Commentary

This part of our website features articles and observations on decoys, antiques, collecting, and other topics that we hope will be of interest.

Passenger PigeonNEW The Migratory Bird Treaty Act Centennial, Written by Rebecca Stephenson and Reprinted from the Desert Rivers Audubon Society Summer 2015 Newsletter.

In this golden age of bird conservation, it is hard to imagine that it was not always this way. Few realize that many of our beloved birds were nearly driven to extinction in a particularly gruesome chapter of American history, and bringing them back from the brink was a war fraught with casualties. Read more ...


Detroit DynastNEW Detroit's Factory Decoys, On Display at DU's Waterfowling Heritage Center, Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid, Memphis, TN. Ducks Unlimited. Ongoing.

This exciting exhibit celebrates Detroit's original "Big Three" — decoy makers George Petersen, Jasper N. Dodge, and William J. Mason. This pioneering trio of early decoy manufacturers produced thousands of working waterfowl decoys from the late 1800s to the mid-1920s. Read more ...


Ohio DecoysOhio Decoys, Seminar by Jeff and Joyce Hay presented by the Midwest Decoy Collectors Association, April 2015

A comprehensive look at the decoys from the northern edge of the state that have folk art appeal and historical significance. Ohio hunt clubs and their members have preserved remnants of a by-gone era: buildings, punt boats, decoys, photographs, personal correspondence and daily ledgers. Read more ...


Shelburne MuseumBirds Of A Feather, Antiques and the Arts Weekly, February 12, 2016

SHELBURNE, VT. — The Shelburne Museum has a collection of more than 1,400 decoys. About half of them have never been on public display. When renovations to Dorset House, their longtime home, are complete, they will all be on view. Meanwhile, 85 choice examples may be seen in the Pizzagalli Center for Art and Education in "Birds of a Feather." Up through May 1, the well-designed presentation includes equipment used by market gunners and, in an innovative and perhaps unprecedented approach, x-ray photos of the construction details of three decoys in the show. Read more ...


CrowellCradles of American Decoy Carving, Ducks Unlimited, November/December 2015

Today's hand-carved wooden decoy treasures were once no more than simple tools crafted by men from all walks of life for the purpose of enticing waterfowl within gunning range. The earliest examples, some of which date to the 1700s, were undoubtedly primitive in both design and construction. But times changed, and so did the world of the decoy carver. Read more ...


CrowellDecoys, Written by: John S. duMont • Editor: Alan G. Haid

An article from a 1987 issue of Sporting Classics, guest writer John S. duMont, who once worked as a gunning stand manager for Elmer Crowell's family, recalls his moments with the celebrated carver. He shares his insight into Crowell's carving and painting techniques which should prove helpful to today's collectors even though written 30 years ago. Read more ...


CoC MagazineCarving a Legacy, Written by Jason Ryan • Photography by Gately Williams

The McNairs are an exceptionally talented family of decoy carvers. Most collectors are familiar with Mark (Papa), but another generation follows in Mark's footsteps, sons Ian and Colin: "So few of us today actually make anything with our hands... But not so for Ian and Colin McNair, whose craftsmanship renders practical works of art." Read more ...


Decoys of SubstanceDecoys of Substance and Desire, by Bernie Gates & William Reeve

Decoy historian and author Bernie Gates and essayist William Reeve give their perspective on the essence of decoys, their history, their creation, and their collectability. While written from a Canadian vantage point, their observations are fully applicable to the United States. Read more ...


Decoys of SubstanceA Timeline Tale of Factory Blue-Winged Teal Decoys, by John Ockerbloom

This article offers an analysis of the different types and styles of factory blue-winged teal decoys over time. Read more ...


AudubonThe Fisherman: Homage to a Fallen Warrior, by Vincent Pagliaroli

"June in January is rare in northwestern Pennsylvania. Anxious to shake the winter doldrums, fishermen often enthusiastically embrace any thaw, even if it only remotely approaches a bearable outside temperature." Read more ...


Decoy Wood CarvingWhen Does a Decoy Wood Carving Rise to the Level of Folk Art?, by James David Brodell, M.D.

"Exactly how many antique wood decoy carvings are being actively used as hunting lures, or are sitting on fireplace mantels as part of expanding collections, or are lying in attics collecting dust, would be anyone's guess." Read more ...