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Charles Perdew Duck Decoys

A true craftsman of nature’s beauty, wood carver Charles Perdew built his legacy along the banks and bluffs of the Illinois River. With the help of his wife Edna, he produced thousands of world-famous duck decoys in his lifetime, selling both privately and through catalogs.

Perdew first began wood carving at age 14, learning from master carvers Henry Ruggles and Robert Elliston. His marriage to Edna in 1902 solidified an artistic partnership that continued for their lifetimes. Once he carved the ducks, she would complete his work by hand painting the pieces with brushes and combs. Their traditional finished ducks typically had feathery, polished appearances varying in size and build.

Originally, Perdew’s duck decoys sold for up to $10 each. Today, the decoys are considered American folk classics in the collecting realm, and purchasing one in excellent condition could easily run into the thousands.

Quick Facts

  • The Perdews’ original home and workshop in Henry, Illinois were donated to the Charles Perdew Museum Association by the Perdew family. In exchange for the donation, the family requested the property be opened as a museum. The workshop is now restored and open for tours
  • A sleeping mallard hen decoy made by Perdew sold for a record $181,000 on a Guyette, Schmidt & Deeter auction in April 2012
  • Charles Perdew also made bird calls which were considered well crafted with a good sound. A growing collector’s market exists for these as well

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