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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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Early American Carved Sleeping Swan Decoy
Dec 03, 10:00 AM EST
Early American Carved Sleeping Swan Decoy
by Mebane Antique Auction
Est: $100- $10,000
$3,10020 Bids
Oscar Peterson Trout
Dec 03, 12:00 PM EST
Oscar Peterson Trout
by South Bay Auctions Inc
Est: $800- $1,200
$8009 Bids
Antique Large Carved Goose Flying Decoy
Dec 03, 10:00 AM EST
Antique Large Carved Goose Flying Decoy
by Mebane Antique Auction
Est: $100- $10,000
$603 Bids
Seaford style black bellied plover
Dec 03, 12:00 PM EST
Seaford style black bellied plover
by South Bay Auctions Inc
Est: $400- $600
$5502 Bids
WATERFIELD FAMILY DECOY
Nov 27, 10:00 AM EST
WATERFIELD FAMILY DECOY
by Ledbetter Auctions
Est: $200- $400
$201 Bid
WATERFIELD FAMILY DECOY
Nov 27, 10:00 AM EST
WATERFIELD FAMILY DECOY
by Ledbetter Auctions
Est: $200- $400
$201 Bid
DECORATIVE CANADIAN GOOSE DECOY
Nov 28, 6:00 PM PST
DECORATIVE CANADIAN GOOSE DECOY
by O'Gallerie
Est: $200- $300
$1001 Bid
NORMAN SCOTT GOOSE DECOY
Nov 27, 10:00 AM EST
NORMAN SCOTT GOOSE DECOY
by Ledbetter Auctions
Est: $100- $200
$201 Bid
WATERFIELD FAMILY DECOY
Nov 27, 10:00 AM EST
WATERFIELD FAMILY DECOY
by Ledbetter Auctions
Est: $200- $400
$201 Bid
Antique Shore Bird Decoy
Dec 03, 10:00 AM EST
Antique Shore Bird Decoy
by Mebane Antique Auction
Est: $100- $10,000
$500 Bids
WATERFIELD FAMILY DECOY
Nov 27, 10:00 AM EST
WATERFIELD FAMILY DECOY
by Ledbetter Auctions
Est: $200- $400
$200 Bids
WATERFIELD FAMILY DECOY
Nov 27, 10:00 AM EST
WATERFIELD FAMILY DECOY
by Ledbetter Auctions
Est: $200- $400
$200 Bids
WATERFIELD FAMILY DECOY
Nov 27, 10:00 AM EST
WATERFIELD FAMILY DECOY
by Ledbetter Auctions
Est: $200- $400
$200 Bids
WATERFIELD FAMILY DECOY
Nov 27, 10:00 AM EST
WATERFIELD FAMILY DECOY
by Ledbetter Auctions
Est: $200- $400
$200 Bids
WATERFIELD FAMILY DECOY
Nov 27, 10:00 AM EST
WATERFIELD FAMILY DECOY
by Ledbetter Auctions
Est: $200- $400
$200 Bids
WATERFIELD FAMILY DECOY
Nov 27, 10:00 AM EST
WATERFIELD FAMILY DECOY
by Ledbetter Auctions
Est: $200- $400
$200 Bids
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HARVEY BECKMAN SHOREBIRD DECOY 20th Century Length 13”.
Dec 09, 9:30 AM EST
HARVEY BECKMAN SHOREBIRD DECOY 20th Century Length 13”.
by Eldred's
Est: $200- $300
$1000 Bids
Vintage Bufflehead Decoy
Dec 03, 9:30 AM EST
Vintage Bufflehead Decoy
by Rafael Osona Auctions
Est: $150- $250
$1000 Bids
signed vintage carved wooden bird decoy sculpture
Dec 05, 10:00 AM EST
signed vintage carved wooden bird decoy sculpture
by Yardley Antiques
Est: $75- $100
$250 Bids
vintage carved wooden bird decoy sculpture
Dec 05, 10:00 AM EST
vintage carved wooden bird decoy sculpture
by Yardley Antiques
Est: $50- $65
$250 Bids
American Folk Art Sheet Tin Goose
Nov 29, 12:00 PM EST
American Folk Art Sheet Tin Goose
by Old Kinderhook Auction Company
Est: $50- $100
$250 Bids
CURTIS WATERFIELD VIRGINIA SHORE BIRD
Nov 27, 10:00 AM EST
CURTIS WATERFIELD VIRGINIA SHORE BIRD
by Ledbetter Auctions
Est: $100- $200
$200 Bids
WATERFIELD FAMILY DECOY
Nov 27, 10:00 AM EST
WATERFIELD FAMILY DECOY
by Ledbetter Auctions
Est: $200- $400
$200 Bids
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MARTY COLLINS PLOVER DECOY Massachusetts, Late 20th Century Length 10”.
Dec 09, 9:30 AM EST
MARTY COLLINS PLOVER DECOY Massachusetts, Late 20th Century Length 10”.
by Eldred's
Est: $200- $300
$1000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Decoys


Mebane Antique Auction

Mebane Antique Auction

South Bay Auctions Inc

South Bay Auctions Inc

Medusa Auctioneers

Medusa Auctioneers