This is a 20th century wooden hooded merganser hen decoy, hand painted by Armand J. Carney. The decoy has a glass eye, detailed carved head, and exquisitely painted feathers. The hen is painted with have a gray-brown head and neck. A reddish-brown crest continues into a similarly a similarly painted neck, chest, sides and flanks. Brownish-black feathers dominate its back, rump and tail. The upper bill is black-edged with orange and the lower bill is yellow. The decoy is signed, titled, and dated 1978 on the bottom by Carney.
Prior to English settlement in the 1600s, Native Americans crafted bird and animal decoys for hunting out of natural materials like mud, straw, reeds, animal feathers and fur. Archeologists excavating in the Humboldt Range of western Nevada found 11 ancient hunting decoys that were 1,000 years old, in 1924. European colonists emulated and built upon this hunting tactic.
From the mid-19th century through the early-20th century, the use of painted, wooden, hollow or solid shorebird, goose, and duck decoys came into fashion among bird hunters. While no longer used today due to advances in decoy materials and technology, these wooden duck decoys are now considered highly collectible as both relics of American-born hunting tradition as well as beautiful examples of folk art.
A talented artist, Armand J. Carney (d. 2008) crafted decorative duck decoys, shorebirds, and songbirds. He exhibited his work in festivals and folk art gallery shows, most notably the renowned Easton Maryland Waterfowl Festival where his art was featured in the Gold Room for over 25 years. His carving and painting techniques have been featured in many articles and books.
CONDITION: H: 5.5in x L: 13in x D: 5in
Original wooden hen decoy. Paint is in good condition and original to decoy. Decoy is structurally sound. Glass eye firmly attached. Signature at bottom of decoy is intact and fully legible. Sticker residue on the bottom of decoy, from past label.