New York

There are two distinct schools of carvers from New York -- Western or Upstate New York and Long Island.

The western or upstate area runs from where the St. Lawrence river flows into Lake Ontario at Alexandria Bay and the St. Lawrence islands, commonly known as the "Thousand Islands," up the river to Ogdensburg and down the western coast to Buffalo. Decoys from this school featured flat-bottoms, solid bodies with gently low carved backs ending in a long tail that was sometimes pointed, glass eyes set in horizontal v-grooves, and heads normally inlaid into the body.

The focal point of carving in this area was the small town of Alexandria Bay, which is said to have had at one time fifty carvers, many living on Holland Street who became known as "The Holland Street Whittlers."

The dean of this school was Chauncey Wheeler. Other notables from the western school included Chancy Patterson, Frank Coombs, Roy Conklin, Frank Lewis and Samuel Denny. While the most common decoys from this school were of broadbills, redheads, and whistlers, some excellent canvasbacks, goldeneyes, and mergansers were also made.

Long Island decoys are characterized by solid wood construction with a carved shelf for the mounting of the head and no detailed carving on the face or bill. Eyes were normally carved representations, but occasionally tacks were used. In addition to solid wood construction, many of the carvers of this school used cork for body construction.

Most decoys were simply constructed with no wing or feather carving. They were well sanded and finished with simple paint patterns. Root heads were often used on mergansers, brants and black ducks. Long Island is also known for its snipe decoys or stick-ups.

Carvers from this school include Thomas Gelston, Frank Kellum, Obediah Verity, Al Ketchum, and William Bowman.