Resources for Collectors
by Robert Shaw
of Deception: A History of American Bird Decoys
Barber: The Lost Birds
The McCleery Collection
American Bird Decoys, William J. Mackey,
New York: Dutton, 1965
Classic surrey by the most influential collector of his time.
The sale of Mackey's immense collection in the early 1970s was
a seminal event.
The Art of the Decoy:American Bird Carving, Adele Earnest, New York:
Random House, 1965.
Insightful study by one of the great early folk art dealer/collectors.
Decoys: A North American Survey, Gene and Linda Kangas,
Salt Lake City: Hillcrest Publications, 1983,
Still the most comprehensive and useful survey, encompassing
all of North America.
The Decoy as Folk Sculpture: An
Exhibition of Waterfowl and Fish Decoys from the Collections
of Ronald Swanson and Julie and Michael Hall, Michael Hall and Ronald Swanson, Bloomfield Hills,
MI: Cranbrook Academy of Art Museum, 1986.
Hard to find catalog of exhibition combining two great collections.
Hall's essay "Marsh Trek: The Dilemma of Decoys" is
worth the price of admission alone.
Wild Fowl Decoys, Joel Barber, New York: Derrydale Press,
The first book on decoys by the pioneer collector and
artist. The best written and most charming decoy book ever, with
many important insights into what Barber called "floating
sculpture." Barber's collection was acquired by The Shelburne Museum after his death in 1952 and much of it is exhibited
in the Museum's Dorset House.
Books by (or with
contributions by) Robert Shaw
Bird Decoys of North America: Nature, History, and Art
The definitive book on antique bird decoys, a gorgeous hardcover volume illustrated with hundreds of stunning color photographs of classic decoys from all over the United States and Canada, plus Audubon prints, historic black and white photos, nineteenth-century prints, and more.
Hardcover, 304 pages, with stunning color photographs of more than 300 classic decoys, plus dozens of Audubon bird prints, historic photographs, and illustrations. Sterling Publishing, 2010.
Click here for more information.
to the Sky: The Decoy Collection of James M. McCleery, M.D.
Catalog of 1992 Houston Museum of Natural
Science exhibition of the greatest decoy collection of all time.
Dr. McCleery's collection was sold at Sotheby's in New York in
2000, where it brought more than $11,000,000.
Hard and soft cover editions, 7.5 x 10.25 in., 120 pp., 60
full page color photos. Gulf Publishing Company, 1992.
The McCleery Auction
Includes remembrances of Jim McCleery, symposium presentations, stories from The New York Times and other major publications, and a personal note by Kitty Mackey, daughter of legendary collector William Mackey.
"While the final word regarding the James McCleery auction/collection may never be in, the definitive words on the subject have recently been published. Shaw and Gard have not only paid tribute to one of world's greatest collectors, they have also paralleled his ideals with their effort."
-Antiques & the Arts Weekly
Hardcover, 10.25 x 10.25 in., 214 pp., over 100 color photos. Lake Emma Press, 2001. ISBN: 0-9705508-1-2
The Great Book of
A large format survey with hundreds of full-color photographs.
Presents decoys by region, from Canada down the Atlantic Coast,
inland along streams and rivers to Louisiana, up the Mississippi
to the Great Lakes, and across to California and Oregon. Each chapter is written by a regional expert. Introduction and chapter on collecting decoys by Robert Shaw.
Hardcover, 14.7 x 10.8 in., 320 pages, The
Lyons Press; ISBN: 1585741205.
MUSEUMS WITH DECOY COLLECTIONS
Only a handful of museums have decoys on permanent exhibition, so be sure to check ahead. If the museum’s birds are in storage, you may be able to make an appointment with a curator who can show them to you.
The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia
One of the outstanding collections of American folk art, including decoys and ornamental carvings by Shang Wheeler, Gus Wilson, and others.
The American Folk Art Museum, New York
One of the outstanding collections of American folk art, including decoys by Cobb, Crowell, Lothrop Holmes, Osgood, Wilson and many other masters.
The Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts
Small collection including works by Elmer Crowell and Albert Laing. Some decoys on exhibit in their folk art gallery.
The Canadian Museum of Civilization, Ottawa, Ontario
More than 500 Canadian decoys.
The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, St. Michaels, Maryland
The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Cleveland, Ohio
Small varied collection.
Fenimore Art Museum/New York State Historical Association, Cooperstown, New York
Small collection includes a remarkable group of shorebirds by John Dilley.
The Havre de Grace Decoy Museum, Havre de Grace, Maryland
Decoys by Susquehanna Flats carvers.
Heritage Museums & Gardens, Sandwich, Massachusetts
Large collection of decoys and bird carvings by Elmer and Cleon Crowell, as well as hundreds of their patterns and a recreation of their workshop.
The Illinois State Museum, Springfield, Illinois
Illinois decoys by many of the region's masters.
The Lakeview Museum of Art and Sciences, Peoria, Illinois
Illinois decoys, including works by Elliston, Graves, Perdew and Schoenheider.
The Long Island Museum of Art, History & Carriages, Stony Brook, New York
Permanent exhibit of primarily Long Island decoys, including masterpieces by Bownan, Gelston, and Verity.
The Milwaukee Art Museum
The Michael and Julie Hall Collection includes outstanding examples by Bowman, Cobb, Crowell, Elliston, Lothrop Holmes, Schweikardt, the Ward brothers, and Shang Wheeler as well as a variety of other superb folk art sculpture.
The Milwaukee Public Museum
Small collection of decoys purchased from William Mackey Jr., including several birds pictured in his book, American Bird Decoys.
The Noyes Museum of Art, Oceanville, New Jersey
More than 350 historic New Jersey decoys and contemporary decorative bird carvings, many from New Jersey.
The Peabody/Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts
Outstanding collection of Massachusetts decoys by Crowell, Lincoln, Nichols, and other masters.
The Charles Perdew Museum Association, Henry, Illinois
Preserves the home Perdew built in Henry.
The Shelburne Museum, Shelburne, Vermont
The finest and most comprehensive decoy collection on public exhibition, including the Joel Barber Collection. Masterworks from all regions, as well as a large selection of decorative and miniature carvings by Crowell. Lincoln, A.J. King, and others. Dorset House open mid-May through the end of October.
Tuckerton Seaport, Tuckerton, New Jersey
A maritime village that encompasses seventeen historic and recreated buildings including a gallery of New Jersey coast decoys.
The Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art, Salisbury, Maryland
Historic decoys and contemporary decorative bird carvings.
Canadian Decoy and Outdoor Collectibles Association
Holds an annual show and publishes a quarterly newsletter.
Long Island Decoy Collector’s Association
Midwest Decoy Collector’s Association
National, 1100 member group. Hosts annual North American Antique Decoy and Sporting Collectible Convention Week at Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, Illinois, which includes a Guyette & Schmidt auction and the Midwest Decoy
Minnesota Decoy Collectors Association
Holds annual antique decoy and collectibles show at the Thunderbird in Bloomington the first weekend of February.
Ohio Decoy Collectors and Carvers Association
Annual show held the third weekend in March at the Holiday Inn West, Westlake, Ohio.
WHERE TO BUY DECOYS: AUCTION HOUSES AND DEALERS
Author of Decoys of Southwest Ontario. Specialist in Canadian decoys.
Specialist in West Coast decoys.
Decoys Unlimited, Inc.
Ted and Judy Harmon. Dealer, broker and auctioneer, decoys from all regions. Holds large annual summer auction.
Russ Goldberger, RJG Antiques
Co-author of Mason Decoys: A Complete Pictorial Guide. Decoys from all regions, with emphasis on Mason’s Decoy
Guyette & Schmidt, Inc.
The leading decoy auction firm, with four auctions each year.
Dick McIntyre, Collectable Old Decoys
Broker/dealer specializing in Southern decoys.
Outstanding Americana and sporting art sales that often include decoys.
Stephen O’Brien Jr. Fine Art LLC
Dealer and broker specializing in decoys and sporting art. Holds large annual summer auction, auction info at
Decoys included in auctions of American folk and decorative art. Nancy Druckman heads American folk art department;
Ron Gard is the decoy specialist.
Specialist in Illinois River and mid-West decoys.