Vintage Duck Hunting Decoys – Hot Tips For Collectors
A duck decoy has been used for thousands of years all over the world to draw duck into the area, giving the hunter a chance at a trophy or two. In recent years though, antique duck decoys have become a valuable collector’s item. While there are many replicas on the market, it’s important to be able to tell the difference between an authentic one, and a replication.
The Smithsonian Institution houses the greatest number of North American duck decoys, with the most being found in a cave in Arizona. The traditional, hand carved, wooden decoy was made primarily from the 10th century through to the mid twentieth. The vintage duck decoy is both a desirable collector’s item for the duck hunter, and are considered beautiful works of art and used for decorative purposes in many country homes. Many are found at antique shops and collectibles stores. Some vintage duck decoys sought by collectors are:
• 1900 vintage duck hunting decoy by Charles Birch of a mallard duck.
• Circa 1890 goldeneye Harry Shourds vintage duck hunting decoy from the Tuckerton, New Jersey area.
• Circa 1875 Dodge mallard drake vintage duck hunting decoy by J. N. Dodge.
• Walter Avis circa 1925 Vintage redhead duck decoy from Toronto, Canada.
• Circa 1920 – 1930 Benjamin Schmidt oversized blackduck decoy.
For those interested in collecting vintage duck decoys, the collector must be weary of clever reproductions; many are so good they are able to fool collectors. Vintage decoys have solid color patters, whereas modern interpretations have real looking feather detailing. Many of the old decoys have eyes made of metal tacks, or ones that were carved and hand painted; glass eyes are often used on later decoys. Because vintage decoys were carved by hand using a rasp, drawknife, and hand ax, be sure to look for tool marks on the decoy. By the mid 1850′s hollow decoys were carved made up of three separate sections. Also used were metal and wood silhouettes known as stick-ups and shadow decoys. Looking for the maker’s name on the keel weight is also a good indication of a vintage decoy. Also, after the Civil War, the decoy’s tail and beak were carved and the body made of cork. With these few tips in mind a collector can be on the lookout for quality vintage duck decoys to start a collection.
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