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Prominent Duck Decoy Carving Regions

By Collector | July 6, 2008

Carvers who created duck decoys worked in various regions throughout the United States, including New England, the South Atlantic, and into the Gulf Coast Region. These craftsman worked in areas where duck hunting was a booming business in the late 1800’s and into the early 1900’s. Hunters often killed hundreds of ducks per day and then sold them to area restaurants for a profit. Legislation was passed, however, in 1918 that prohibited commercial duck hunting and limited the number of ducks that could be taken at any one time. As a result, the demand for decoys decreased with the passing of this legislation.

New England

New England, boasting lakes, rivers, and freshwater marshes, was a perfect area for decoy carvers to set up shop. Southern New England was well known for quality, hand carved, and hand painted decoys. Carvers such as Elmer Cromwell, Joe Lincoln, and George Boyd all hailed from this region, producing distinctive carvings with unique traits.

The South Atlantic

The Eastern Shore of Virginia and the Outer Banks of the Carolinas was another excellent region for carvers to practice their art. The region was home to many types of waterfowl, including geese, ducks, and shorebirds, as well as multiple private hunting clubs and resorts. Throughout the late 1800’s, carvers and hunters worked together to keep commercial hunting alive and well. Famous carvers from this region included Ira Hudson, the Cobb family, and Hicks Caines.

The Gulf Region

Southern Louisiana was another popular area for decoy carvers. The backwaters of the Mississippi attracted migratory birds on their way south. Carvers from this region brought elements of their native cultures into their decoys, creating individualized hand carved masterpieces with amazing details. Nicole Vidocavitch worked in this area, and is considered to be the greatest carver of the Gulf Coast region.

Topics: Regional Decoy Carvers | 8 Comments »

8 Responses to “Prominent Duck Decoy Carving Regions”

  1. Susan Levin Says:
    August 31st, 2008 at 11:06 pm

    I have just lost my husband and among his decoys is a Charlie Joiner mallard .Where would you recomend I sell this ? I also have 6 pairs of Canvas Back wooden working decoys from the upper Chesapeake Bay they have been repainted . Thanks for your help. Susan Levin

  2. Collector Says:
    September 6th, 2008 at 11:09 am

    Hi Susan,

    First, my condolences on the loss of your husband. As far as where to sell the decoys, it’s very difficult to give you advice on that. A lot of factors come into play and I don’t want to lead you astray.

    The Charlie Joiner mallard could be rather valuable depending on its condition and the year it was carved as well as conclusive authentication. The repainted birds may have lost some value due to the fact that the paint is not original.

    If you can wait, it might be best to keep the decoys for safe keeping and think about selling them at a later time.

    Good luck to you and please take care.

  3. lorraine hart Says:
    September 19th, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    I have a cancoy canvas covered decoy. with certificate of authenticity. signed by Don Palumbo., Meadowlands decoys, Rutherford, New Jersey…. I have been unable to research anything about this decoy. are you able to help me out on this… thank you, Lorraine

  4. jason Says:
    November 23rd, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    best place to sell any decoy:
    1. guyette and schmidt
    2. Copley fine arts
    3. Frank and Frank
    4. Decoys Unlimited
    5. Sotherby’s

    All auction houses who have large decoy clients

  5. don palumbo Says:
    April 5th, 2011 at 10:40 am

    Hello Lorraine,You can contact me at dpalumbo11@verizon.net. In all I did about 24 different “Cancoys” These are all designed by me and painted in the Old Saybrook Decoy Co. style as taught to me by Harry Ross Sr. (deseased) and his son harry Jr. I hav’nt done any for a number of years after I had a serious heart attack. I am now getting back to carving many items to include shore birds, song birds, ice fishing decoys etc: I will also produce some Cancoys. The name Cancoy is of my own invent as they are canvas decoys. Let me know where you got your bird. Thanks for your interest, Don Palumbo

  6. Judith Says:
    April 12th, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    I have a Mitchell LaFrance (Louisiana) Pintail Hen, that was given to me by Mitchell himself. It might be one of the last ones he carved. I am interested in finding it’s value, and in selling it. I have a few others, including a Charles Hutch Hutchison, (also given to me by Hutch himself) and an Albert Johnson miniature. Any advice or direction?

  7. Margaux Says:
    December 26th, 2012 at 12:03 am

    @Judith, I was wondering if you still have the two pieces you spoke about. I am Charles Hutchisons granddaughter.

  8. Ted Harmon Says:
    October 21st, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    Hello, We own Decoys Unlimited Inc. Best to send photos to get an idea of value. We have been active with decoys since the 1950’s. Ted Harmon, President 508-362-2766