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Decoys

From ducks and geese to trout and frogs, vintage decoys have become valuable relics of early American fishing and hunting. Decoys were used not only in the commercial supply of fish and game to restaurants, but also for the personal need of feeding one's family.

The earliest decoys were made by Native Americans over a thousand years ago, with grasses, plants, and bones used as building materials. As settlers came to North America in the 19th century and began to fish and hunt, they generated a great demand for decoys, sparking a new industry of wood carvers and crafters that would cater to them. Of all bird decoys created, duck decoys were the most commonly made, however it wasn’t unusual to produce other species, such as geese, turkeys, swans, grouse, partridge, and pigeons. Winter spearfishing in the northern climates also created a demand for fish decoys, and these were used widely until many jurisdictions banned spearfishing in the 20th century.

Values of decoys today depend largely on several factors: rarity, condition, and form. For example, an unused, handmade decoy from a famed carver will often be worth more than a used, factory-made decoy. Of course, competitive bidding can always change that.


Quick Facts

  • A number of companies produced wooden duck decoys in the late 19th and 20th centuries including Dodge, Reynolds, Peterson, and Mason
  • A rare swan decoy made by Charles Birch sold for $186,500 in a 2011 Guyette & Schmidt, Inc. auction. This was an auction record for the carver’s pieces
  • Until the Migratory Bird Act was passed in 1918, shorebirds were commonly hunted for food and sport. Plovers, snowy egrets, yellowlegs, and flatties are a few of the shorebird types made into decoys

Recommended Items at Auction

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Southern Carved Wood Shore Bird
Mar 09, 10:00 AM EST
Southern Carved Wood Shore Bird
by Mebane Antique Auction
Est: $100- $10,000
$501 Bid
Eleven Carved and Painted Wood Bird Figures
Mar 14, 10:00 AM EDT
Eleven Carved and Painted Wood Bird Figures
by Hindman
Est: $400- $600
$2001 Bid
Painted Carved Wood Goose Decoy, H: 20 in. (50.8 cm.)
Mar 05, 10:00 AM EST
Painted Carved Wood Goose Decoy, H: 20 in. (50.8 cm.)
by Weschler's
Est: $50- $100
$251 Bid
Folk Art Carved Crow Decoy With Glass Eyes
Mar 23, 11:00 AM EDT
Folk Art Carved Crow Decoy With Glass Eyes
by Kavanagh Auctions
Est: $40- $15,000
$401 Bid
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FOUR JOEY JOBES DECOYS Havre de Grace, Maryland, Contemporary Lengths to 16.5".
Mar 07, 9:30 AM EST
FOUR JOEY JOBES DECOYS Havre de Grace, Maryland, Contemporary Lengths to 16.5".
by Eldred's
Est: $200- $400
$1000 Bids
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FOUR JOEY JOBES DECOYS Havre de Grace, Maryland, Contemporary Lengths 16”.
Mar 07, 9:30 AM EST
FOUR JOEY JOBES DECOYS Havre de Grace, Maryland, Contemporary Lengths 16”.
by Eldred's
Est: $200- $400
$1000 Bids
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TWO DECOYS Contemporary
Mar 07, 9:30 AM EST
TWO DECOYS Contemporary
by Eldred's
Est: $150- $300
$700 Bids
Three Carved Wood Decoys
Mar 06, 9:00 AM PST
Three Carved Wood Decoys
by Grant Zahajko Auctions, LLC
Est: $100- $150
$500 Bids
THREE GOOSE SILHOUETTE DECOYS.
Mar 09, 11:00 AM EST
THREE GOOSE SILHOUETTE DECOYS.
by Amelia Jeffers
Est: $100- $200
$500 Bids
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TWO NEW JERSEY DECOYS Early 20th Century Lengths 14" and 16".
Mar 07, 9:30 AM EST
TWO NEW JERSEY DECOYS Early 20th Century Lengths 14" and 16".
by Eldred's
Est: $300- $500
$1500 Bids
Trio of Signed Miniature Canada Goose Decoys
Mar 07, 11:00 AM EST
Trio of Signed Miniature Canada Goose Decoys
by Embassy Auctions International
Est: $120- $180
$1000 Bids
Red-Breasted Merganser Decoy by Ken Kirby
Mar 07, 11:00 AM EST
Red-Breasted Merganser Decoy by Ken Kirby
by Embassy Auctions International
Est: $150- $250
$1200 Bids
Signed T. A. Napier Atlantic Brant Goose Decoy
Mar 07, 11:00 AM EST
Signed T. A. Napier Atlantic Brant Goose Decoy
by Embassy Auctions International
Est: $300- $500
$2000 Bids
L. Lutz Cork and Wood Canada Goose Decoy
Mar 07, 11:00 AM EST
L. Lutz Cork and Wood Canada Goose Decoy
by Embassy Auctions International
Est: $100- $200
$800 Bids
Carved Swan Decoy
Mar 07, 11:00 AM EST
Carved Swan Decoy
by Embassy Auctions International
Est: $80- $160
$600 Bids
Early Canada Goose Decoy by SR White
Mar 07, 11:00 AM EST
Early Canada Goose Decoy by SR White
by Embassy Auctions International
Est: $300- $500
$2000 Bids
LOON LAKE DECOY CO BIRD
Mar 09, 10:00 AM EST
LOON LAKE DECOY CO BIRD
by Casco Bay Auctions
Est: $40- $60
$200 Bids
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THREE MAINE DECOYS Late 19th/Early 20th Century Lengths from 14" to 20".
Mar 07, 9:30 AM EST
THREE MAINE DECOYS Late 19th/Early 20th Century Lengths from 14" to 20".
by Eldred's
Est: $300- $500
$1500 Bids
Group (4) Folk Art hunting decoys
Mar 06, 10:00 AM EST
Group (4) Folk Art hunting decoys
by Millea Bros Ltd
Est: $150- $250
$700 Bids
Collection of Fish Spear Decoys Including Signed
Mar 07, 11:00 AM EST
Collection of Fish Spear Decoys Including Signed
by Embassy Auctions International
Est: $180- $360
$1500 Bids
Canada Goose Decoy
Mar 07, 11:00 AM EST
Canada Goose Decoy
by Embassy Auctions International
Est: $150- $250
$1000 Bids
Canada Goose Cork Decoy
Mar 07, 11:00 AM EST
Canada Goose Cork Decoy
by Embassy Auctions International
Est: $80- $160
$600 Bids
Signed Captain Joey Jobes Swan Decoy
Mar 07, 11:00 AM EST
Signed Captain Joey Jobes Swan Decoy
by Embassy Auctions International
Est: $200- $300
$1500 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Decoys


Embassy Auctions International

Embassy Auctions International

Eldred's

Eldred's

Hindman

Hindman

Amelia Jeffers

Amelia Jeffers