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Wood Duck Drake Decoy

Roy Conklin (1909-1967)

Alexandria Bay, NY c.1940



Exceptionally rare unrigged gunning wood duck decoy directly out of the collection of author Larry Lunman.  Larry is an astute researcher having published numerous books and articles on decoys from Ontario and the diverse Thousand Islands region which separates Canada and the United States at the outflow of Lake Ontario.  Larry's efforts, in combination with his co-author, Jim Stewart, led to the ground breaking book 'Decoys of The Thousand Islands', perhaps his most famous work.  The section on Roy Conklin features few published decoys including the important Merganser drake, which we privately sold, and the racy Wood Duck drake, that we brought to market and sold for $5,700 (world record price for any single Roy Conklin decoy).


Unlike the decorative decoy published and mentioned above, this decoy is important for it's rarity as a gunning model decoy.  Most of Roy's gunning decoys were created between 1935-1945 where he made teal, black, mallard, wood duck, canvasback, redhead, broadbill, whistler, merganser, geese, and brant.  The tail is regular, not long and thin like his later decorative decoys.  The bottom is also thickly painted white to seal the wood from water.  Though it is a gunning decoy, Roy still managed to impart his vibrant paint and sculptural form to the decoy providing motion on the still object.


In Roy's early years living by the river he developed an attraction to local wildfowl, doodling birds in the margins of his school books.  Later in life he would study art in the evenings at Columbia University while he worked for the New York Sun. Being a true riverman at heart, Roy eventually moved back to the Alex Bay area just before the onset of the Great Depression.  He became a boat captain, fishing guide, and carpenter in the Alex Bay area.  Due to the seasonal nature of his work, he found himself carving whimsical miniatures in the Winter of 1932 to 'amuse himself and earn a little extra money'.  Fast forward a few years and Roy had developed quite a local and regional following for his miniatures and decorative carvings fulfilling orders for the likes of Abercrombie & Fitch in New York, NY.  During WWII Roy transitioned to defense work to assist his nation, but the business didn't shutter. According to the Watertown Daily Times in 1953, Roy was selling through many outlets accross the nation and world including Abercrombie & Fitch New York, NY, Castle & Cooke, Honolulu, HI, Marshall-Field, Chicaco, IL, and Harrods, Ltd., London, UK.  The Sportsmen's Club of Chicago named him and honorary member and Lynn Bogue Hunt even complimented Roy on the authentic expressions he managed to capture on his birds.


Condition: Entirely original with minor surface rubs and some small drip spots of varnish near the front of the decoy from creation.



Collection of Larry Lunman


Jim Stewart and Larry Lunman, "Decoys of the Thousand Islands," Erin, Ontario, 1992, p. 200, related decoy illustrated.


Information credit:

Decoys of The Thousand Islands: Jim Stewart & Larry Lunman

Roy A. Conklin: Thousand Islands MusuemThe Watertown Daily Times 3/6/1934

The Watertown Daily Times 11/28/1953


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Wood Duck Drake - Roy Conklin


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