|"Wildfowl Week" started off with lots of
wheeling and dealing in the parking lot where Guyette & Schmidt held their
decoy auction. The weather held up on Wednesday, and many decoy
transactions were transpired by both pre-arrangement and happenstance. The
auction began at eleven o'clock, and by all indications from conversations
with Frank Schmidt and Gary Guyette, it was a tremendous success. By
Thursday at 4 o'clock, the mad scramble was underway to set up dealer booths at
Easton High School. As usual, the Friday transactions were numerous as the
serious collectors came early and bought the best. Most of the dealers
that I spoke with said that they did well over half of their business in the
first couple of hours on Friday, while Saturday sales were modestly
successful. The normal slow down occurred on Sunday.
|Our success was measured more by our purchases than our
sales, as seems to be the course of things at decoy shows and auctions. We came away with
a beautiful pair of Sterling widgeons from Crisfield, MD, and a rare pair of Richard Tilghman's
goldeneyes that were hunted over in the Miles and Wye River areas of Talbot
County, Maryland. They are historically significant and extremely well
made. For more information on Dick Tilghman, see The Outlaw Hunter
by Walsh. Another interesting purchase was an Ira Hudson merganser with a
poor bill repair that has already been sent off to the Duck Doctor. It
represents an era between the so-called "Gargatha" Virginia mergansers of the early 1900's and the
more traditional Ira Hudson mergansers in the 1920's and 30's. Leaving my collection
were more than a dozen good decoys which will be sorely missed, but if you want
to buy, you have to sell! We also sold several Lloyd
J. Tyler: Folk Artist, Decoy Maker books and a plethora of Chesapeake
Wildfowl Hunting, Maryland's Finest Decoys catalogs. For detailed
descriptions of these publications, click on the links.
|Equally important to the sales and purchases I made
over the course of the festival was seeing all my decoy friends and old
customers from around the country. What a fun-filled weekend!
of the Chesapeake
Exhibit Opens at Government House
|First Lady of Maryland, Frances Hughes
hosted a reception for the Objects of the Chesapeake exhibit at
Government House in Annapolis on Tuesday, October 10, 2000. Over 150
guests, all sharing a common respect for the Chesapeake Bay and the folk
traditions that grew from its shores, attended the event.
display included boat models, paintings and many assorted decoys from
the Chesapeake Bay area, kindly loaned to Government from several
private and museum collections. Curator Henry Stansbury emphasized the vital role common
watermen from the Bay's shores played in sustaining the economic importance of
Maryland, especially in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Mrs.
Glendening spoke on the need to preserve Maryland history for our children, as
it still plays an important role in the lives of Marylanders today. Objects
of the Chesapeake will be on display through November 2000.
and Henry Stansbury with First Lady of Maryland, Frances Hughes Glendening,
examine decoys ca. late 19th and early 20th centuries.
|The Chesapeake Bay, with its three dozen river
tributaries, has long been the source of Maryland's contribution to food and
fancy, as well as the focus of our pleasures, economic strength and importance.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, Maryland had a worldwide reputation for superior
shipbuilding prowess, producing the most excellent oysters, and the best
wildfowl hunting grounds. This exhibit features selective Bay-related artifacts
from the collections of the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore, MD, the
Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art in Salisbury, MD, and several private collections.
|In the 19th century, the only reliable means of
transportation for coastal Marylanders and their trade articles was the Bay. The
boat models in this exhibit are examples of vessels that plied the Chesapeake
Bay, such as the world renowned Baltimore clippers that were offshoots of the
far more numerous shallow draft schooners, bugeyes and skipjacks that zipped up
and down the Bay in the 1800's. Many of these boats were used to gather oysters,
one of Maryland's most important exports at the time. For a time, the Chesapeake
Bay provided the richest harvest of oysters in the world. In the late 1800's
there were over one hundred packing houses in Baltimore, and over twenty
thousand Marylanders in the oyster trade.
|For most of the 1800's and early 1900's, people in the
major cities of the East Coast had an insatiable appetite for wildfowl of the
Chesapeake. Exhibited working decoys were used by amateur and professional
watermen as they shot as many as 100 ducks a day for their own meals, as well as
the culinary enjoyment of prominent clubs and hotels from Baltimore to New York.
Sport hunting on the Chesapeake was enjoyed by the rich and famous, including
Presidents Ulysses S. Grant and Grover Cleveland and many Maryland
|The Ward Brothers, Lem (1896-1984) and Steve
(1895-1976), were Crisfield, MD, barbers who became world famous decoy makers.
Beginning about 1915, they made working decoys with wide flat bottoms for
hunting in the Lower Bay, several of which are featured in this exhibit. The
Ward Brothers are credited with turning decoy making into the decorative art
form it is today. Their work graces many museums and private collections and
inspired the creation of the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art in Salisbury, Maryland,
where much of their work resides.
|Special thanks should be given to Nancy Davis and David
Beard of the Maryland Historical Society, and Sam Dyke and Vance Strausburg of
the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art, for their assistance in preparing this exhibit.
Maryland Historical Society
Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art
|A Message from Frances Hughes
Glendening, First Lady of
|"...Objects of the Chesapeake [is] a unique
exhibition of art and artifacts organized to reveal the extraordinary impact of
the Chesapeake Bay on the cultural traditions, economy and history of our
state. I am pleased to present this special exhibit at Government House as
part of the Celebration of the Arts in Maryland initiative.
|The beauty of the Chesapeake Bay draws so many of us to
its shores today for rest and relaxation as well as sporting pleasure.
Yet, for Maryland's earliest settlers, the water and surrounding environs
provided essential sustenance through an incredible bounty of sea life and
wildlife. The fishermen of times past who plied the ships and small boats
helped to build the state's economy through the sale and export of fishing
products. The villages and town of the Chesapeake area were established as
communities for watermen and farmers while Baltimore's harbor developed as an
industrial center to process and ship goods. In this way, the Bay played a
central role in casting the lives and traditions for generations of Marylanders
- and continues to do so today.
|One of the best-known and beloved folk traditions of
the Chesapeake region is the carving of wildfowl decoys. These fine
renderings by local artisans suggest a profound appreciation for the beauty and
splendid variety of waterfowl with which Maryland is blessed.
|My special thanks go to Henry
Stansbury, whose passion
for the heritage of the Chesapeake inspired him to organize this study.
Additional thanks go to the Maryland Historical
Society, the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art,
Judy Stansbury, Lloyd and Part Cargile, and Vance and Nancy Strausburg for
lending objects from their collections for this exhibition.
Just as water is capable of carving rock over time, the
Chesapeake Bay has shaped and influenced the cultural heritage of Maryland and
its people. If a lasting impression can be taken from Objects of the
Chesapeake, it is the vital importance of celebrating our cultural
traditions and protecting our natural resources."