The Long Island Decoy Collectors Association was formed to provide a venue in which people with a shared interest in the rich Long Island decoy tradition can come together to share their knowledge and enthusiasm, as well as to share the artistry, creativity and collections of its members. The association also provides an opportunity for members to exchange and purchase artifacts and materials by both new and established artists and craftsmen.
President: George Munkert
Vice President: Ben Sohm
Treasurer: Bob Liehr
Secretary: Kate Sohm
Newsletter Editor: Kate Sohm
Show Chairman: Tim Sieger
Picnic Chairman: George Rigby
Historian: Mel Phaff
Web Operations: Ryan Yannelli
Back in the late 1960’s when “good ole duck and snipe stool” sold for less than $100.00 each, there were a number of long time decoy collectors on Long Island who generally only saw each other at an antique gun show or a water fowlers carving show. When we did get together there was much excitement and much pleasure, buying selling or swapping decoys. We were a small group, and the collecting field was wide open. Very little history was written and verbal historical information was traded between the collectors. At that time most of the collectors were duck shoots and collecting duck stool fitted in with their life style.
The first real attempt to organize them as a unit was in 1968 at the bay house of Capt. G.W.Combs, Sr., during the annual shoot out and clam bake held each fall on the marsh of Seaford. Among the collectors who were there that expressed a desire to have a decoy collectors society were G.W. Combs, Sr., G.W. Combs, Jr., Jack Combs, Ron Bauer, Ron McGrath, Frank Murphy and Bud Ward. During the next year they would meet at one another’s house for a swap session.
On September 21, 1970 the first organized meeting took place in West Islip. Called the “L.I. Antique Decoy Collectors Society”, it was headed by George Combs, Jr. and Bill Joeckel. At that meeting there were 27 collectors. The temporary Chairman was Malcolm Flemming, temporary Secretary and Treasurer was George W. Combs, Jr.
The L.I. Decoy Collectors Association was formed in Jan. 1971.
Officers for that year:
President George W. Combs, Jr.
V. President Bill Joeckel
Secretary Debbie Libaire
Treasurer Frank Murphy
Historical Society Ron McGrath
Board of Governors Malcolm Fleming, Frank Scrace, Bud Ward, Gilbert Herzy
The first Long Island Decoy Collectors Association display was held March 1971 at the National Decoy Show in Babylon. Our first Long Island Decoy Collectors Association show was held on Sept 25-26, 1971 and thus began a tradition of decoy collectors meets and shows that have inspired numerous future collectors and decoy collectors’ societies over the past years.
Our efforts back in 1968 made a passage for the country’s first, and one of the finest organizations of its kind. The Long Island Decoy Collectors Association and its members’ efforts in cooperation with numerous museums, writers, historians and other collectors through the past years have led to many great contributions in the field of decoy collecting.
Today decoy collectors come from all walks of life. Many books and decoy shows provide a wealth of information on the historical importance and identification of decoys from any region.
The Long Island Decoy Collectors Association meets once a month with a calendar of events, guest speakers, bird of the month (specie, maker, or region), decoys for sale or trade.
Additional History of Long Island Decoy Collectors Association
by Ron McGrath
The continuing success of our decoy club today is due in part to the efforts of numerous members throughout several decades. As a founding member and the first Club Historian, I offer this history of our club’s formation. The segment that follows is taken from my book on Long Island Decoys that will be published in the near future.
The decoy history of Long Island, NY, would not be complete without the story of the Long Island Decoy Collectors Association. Founded in 1970, the LIDCA is the second oldest decoy club in the U.S. (The Midwest Decoy Collectors Association is the oldest club, founded in 1966.) Over the years, LIDCA members have contributed information that led to the identification of many Long Island decoys and their makers.
The following is a brief history of events that led to the founding of the club.
Beginning in 1959, Malcolm Fleming and I occasionally visited Robert “Rab” Staniford, Jr., Chuck Watson, and John Bielick to discuss and trade decoys. These trading sessions often took place at Rab’s Wildfowler Decoy Company located in Quogue, Long Island. At this time no one, to my knowledge, purchased decoys. Joel Barber’s book, Wild Fowl Decoys, led to many lively exchanges over early decoy identification. During one of our “meetings” that year (1959), Malcolm Fleming suggested that we contact other collectors and duck hunters for the purpose of forming a decoy club. Although several attempts were made to organize, time passed and it was more than a decade before Fleming’s idea was finally acted upon.
It was at the 1970 annual, late summer/early fall gathering of a group of Long Island duck hunters, fisherman, and decoy collectors that Fleming’s intention to form a club was finally acted upon. These annual events (gatherings, meetings), some years starting in August, were held at both the Combs and Ward-Bauer bay houses on Long Island’s South Shore. And so it happened in August of 1970 that the group which included Ron Bauer, the Combses (George Sr., Jack, and George, Jr.), Ron McGrath, Frank Murphy, and Bud Ward, agreed that within one week a meeting would be held in Bud Ward’s mainland home for the purpose of drafting an announcement of the club’s formation.
It turned out that Malcolm was unable to attend that mainland meeting; but I conveyed his suggestions to the group that assembled at Bud Ward’s home. The results of that meeting were mailed to potential members, inviting them to help form the Long Island Antique Decoy Collectors Society on September 21, 1970. Twenty-seven people attended the first formative meeting chaired by George Combs, Jr. and Bill Joeckel held at the Pine Lake Improvement Club in West Islip. During that September meeting a committee was formed for the purpose of drafting the club rules. This committee referred many times to the existing by-laws of the Pattersquash Gunner’s Association of Bellport, Long Island.
At that time Malcolm Fleming agreed to be Temporary Chairman, and he held that position until the Nov. 1970 club elections. By October, the club name had been revised to read, “Long Island Decoy Collectors Association.” By Jan. 1971, the Club By-Laws had been approved, officers elected, and the club had been successfully launched.
The initial slate of officers elected was: President: George Combs, Jr., Vice President: Bill Joeckel, Secretary: Debbie Libaire, Treasurer: Frank Murphy, Club Historian: Ron McGrath. Board of Governors: Malcolm Fleming, Gil Herzy, Frank Surace and Bud Ward.
Future monthly meetings were held for years in the Old Heildberg Inn located in the town of Brightwaters. Bill Joeckel and George Combs, Jr. procured both meeting sites.