Object Exercise 2

No: 84.92.2

Subject: Brant Goose Decoys

Address: Bristol, PA

Material: wood

Description: Profile of the Brant Goose Decoys. Dark grey feathers on the top. Black small stubby duck bill, breast and tail. Spotted neck with white feathers. White and grey under feathers extends from the breast to tail. Brown and dark eyes.  The duck places its head back on the body. On the bottom, a leather buckle in the front is attached with one brass screw. The body and the tail are one piece of wood and grooved

Dimensions: 41cm L*16cm W* 17cm H

Prior Marks: on the bottom, curved “RCW”, and the name “John Baker”.

Deduction: There are some questions to think about.

1.Why does the Brant goose decoy look like so restful compared to the bufflehead decoy?

A: In the first place, the restful look seems more vivid to attract a real one. “Lazy, well-fed decoys like this one must have been irresistible to their passing brethren, with carved tail and wing feathers…” (140, America Bird Decoy) So, the style of duck decoys changed a little and became a trademark of them in the Delaware River in the 19th century. Further, with regard to the function of entertainment, the look of it seems to have a higher attractive of animation for audiences to appreciate. Because, in the Decoy Auction, a lively decoy could have a higher price than the one from the same designer in almost the same century.


2.In the time of hunting, how did people come up with the idea to use woodwork as decoys?

A: People, especially famers and hunters have many experience about the law of the nature to gain harvest. For example, famers started to set up a scarecrow in the field to expel wild boar, rats or vultures. Also, they know how to catch animals’ attention. For instance, in the countryside, children often feel interesting to put a paper towel on the setaria to imitate the butterfly and attract them to fly together. We may assume that the imitation is the key point to a decoy. Other people concerns why not put some food at their habitat to attract them. First, it might cost a lot of time to prepare the food and pay much money on it to attract ducks each time. And sometimes, the food would be wasted if there were no ducks. Second, to spread the feed might disturb ducks which might eat the food fast and escape away. Therefore, it is a very convenient way to use duck decoys to attract preys’ attention.

NO: 84.92.12

Subject: Bufflehead

Address: Unknown

Material: Wood

Description: Profile of the Bufflehead Decoys. Drake bufflehead. Its feather strikes black and white, with a large white patch behind the goldeneyes. White duck bill is attached to the black neck. The body and the tail are one piece of wood and grooved.


Prior Marks: stamped “RLW” and penciled: “Tom Gaskill. A price tag: $250, and another one is “B45C2?”


1.Why did the decoys have such a high pice?

2.Did people depend on the making decoys for a living because of the high price?


NO: 89.21.4a, b, c.

Subject: Decoy (black duck, oversize) with birch stake


Address: Pitman, NJ

Material: Birch, Cork

Description: Profile of the Decoy with birch stake. Dark duck bill is attached with a black line on the top of its head. Some wavy lines are on its neck with brown eyes. Grey or dark body is made from low-density cork. Some crack in the cork showing corroded trace. The tail is dark and grooved. On the bottom, a leather buckle in the front is attached to a yellow line which connects to a birch stake. And a heavy weight iron is attached to the line.

Prior Marks: on the bottom, curved the name “Jos Liener”.


1.Why did Jos Liener use cork to make the duck decoy?

The material of this decoy is very different from others’. As we all know, cork block is light weight and buoyant with slightly larger grains than the high-density blocks. It is easy to carve though due to its low density, does not allow for the same high degree of detail achieved with the high-density cork blocks. Hence, this one is highly assumed for the practical use. Also, there is an assumption that the cork might come from the nature, and the row material was picked up by Jos Liener who found it was perfect for the body of the decoy. This could give a good interpretation for the oversized body.

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