Gordon Fleming said he didn’t bring three decoys to the meeting he brought more of a group to show and talk about. He said that his father started collecting decoys back in the 1930’s when he was living in Amityville and that brings us to his first favorite. They are actually a pair of roothead shorebirds that were carved circa 1830’s. They were found by his parents Malcolm and Marion Fleming under some floorboards in an old boatshed on an Amityville creek in the 1940’s. Gordon told a story that his father had once sold one of the decoys but when his mother found out she reminded him that “they both had found them” so his dad had to get the decoy back. These two decoys are pictured in the Adele Earnest book, The Art of the Decoy. They are a favorite of Gordon because he likes the simplicity of the carving.
His second decoy was a roothead brant by Lemuel Ackerly from Patchogue, NY. The decoy was made around 1900. It has Emory Ackerly initials carved in the bottom and a J.R. Watkins brand on the bottom too. Gordon said that he had been looking for this decoy for quite some time and was finally able to acquire it from another collector.
His third decoy of the night was a cedar sheldrake by carver John Lee Baldwin (1868-1938) of Babylon, NY. Gordon described John Lee Baldwin as quite a character who was well off and a bit eccentric. Baldwin had a bike shop in Babylon he called “The Duck Work Shop” with a sign that read “Never worked and never will”. (Gil Herzy said that when Baldwin didn’t pay his wife support, he went to jail. Gil added that Baldwin built a skiff with a cabin but since he wouldn’t register it with the government it ended up as a storage place for his decoys.) This sheldrake was passed down to Gordon from his father Malcom. Gordon said that unfortunately there are not many of his decoys left as his family took them to the dumps. He likes this decoy because it was carved by a carver with a great story.
Thank you Gordon for bringing in some of your favorite decoys and sharing their entertaining stories with us. Next up is Dick Richardson and his favorite three decoys for the December meeting.