English Wood Pigeon Decoys

In researching an article on English wood pigeon decoys for the March/April 2015 issue of Hunting and Fishing Collectibles Magazine, I was amazed by the paucity of information available in print as well as on the internet.  Since, in corresponding with other collectors that I've met through the article, it has become abundantly clear that my first impression was, unfortunately, quite accurate.  There is almost no documentation of the makers or examples available.  Being used to the numerous publications available on North American waterfowl and shorebird decoys, I expected to find a number of works to draw from in identifying and cataloging these appealing early carvings. No such luck!  Did I say "early"?  In Europe, "early" might mean the twelfth century, but almost certainly not the nineteenth.  As the "new kid on the block", wood pigeon decoys are still looked upon in large degree by the Continent's antique collectors as utilitarian tools, interesting but too new to have drawn appreciable attention.  Even where interest exists, and certainly it does, the collector is often fortunate just to learn the area from which the decoy came.  Only a few sources seem to exist. Old and often forgotten newspaper articles can be a help in identifying some decoys as the success of a local carver was documented as a point of human interest.  Another source is the British Patent Office where the ingenuity of some carvers led to the use of the patent process and the documentation that entailed.  Surely there are people still living that are knowledgeable to varying degrees, but finding them has proven difficult.  I have no doubt that there is more information available on these fine pieces of folk art; it just needs to be assembled and disseminated.  To that end, I offer this website.  I welcome your input and critiques.  In whatever form, by word of mouth, by pen or by photo, please share your thoughts and knowledge.   I will follow up on all input and update these pages with examples and data as received.   You may reach me through the "Contact" section of this website.

Hank Norman