Nature, History, and Art

Robert Shaw

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[Bird Decoys of North America] is a compelling read ... [and] a visual and educational treat for the collector, historian, or birder. In a novel approach, Shaw has seen light to combine natural history, art, and cultural history in one gloriously illustrated book. I compliment him on the difficult task of presenting the art of the decoy with a new and refreshing approach.

This is a very well written and illustrated book. The photographs, some of which cover two pages, are of the best quality and of the best decoys. All the great carvers are here, along the best of the anonymous work. This belongs on the shelf of every of enthusiast of decoys, folk art, or ornithology. Kudos to the author for another fine publication."

—Brian Cullity, New England Antiques Journal

"This hardcover, 296-page, serious, coffee table book features 300 illustrations that include beautiful color photos of hundreds of great decoys from private and public collections around the United States and Canada, as well as Audubon bird prints and numerous historic photographs and illustrations that place the featured decoys into a meaningful context. It is a must-have book for all decoy enthusiasts but will also be of great value and interest to sportsmen, birders, American history buffs, and folk art enthusiasts.

In this definitive book, folk art expert Robert Shaw, the former curator of the Shelburne Museum, chronicles the now-vanished era in which the great decoy makers pursued their craft. He also traces the natural history of North American bird species—more than sixty of which are represented by antique decoys—and pairs American bird prints by John James Audubon with outstanding decoys of the same species.

Significantly and thoroughly, Shaw relates the history of wildfowl hunting on this continent, detailing the excesses of l9th century market hunting and the rise of the conservation movement which ensured the long-term survival of many game bird species. The author has the storyteller’s gift for the entertaining anecdote and puts the reader in touch with the lives and circumstances of the decoy makers who worked in a bygone era."

—Stan Van Etten, Editor & Publisher, Hunting & Fishing Collectibles Magazine

"An excellently written and thoughtfully presented introduction to waterfowl decoys, an overview of their use by both common people for market hunting and table fare and wealthy city sportsmen for recreational usage, and their subsequent aesthetic appeal as a collectible art form now removed from their storied past.

A book we highly recommend for both longtime collectors and newly interested parties, and honestly we couldn’t think of a better way to organize and present the topic."

Decoy Magazine

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