Waterfowling on the Chesapeake, 1819-1936

Overview

Part documentary, part nostalgic history, and part informational catalogue, Waterfowling on the Chesapeake, 1819–1936 explores a century of hunting on the Chesapeake Bay and its major tributaries—from the heyday of gun clubs and market shooting to the rise of conservation law. Drawing on oral histories and period documents and artifacts, C. John Sullivan, a longtime collector of decoys and hunting paraphernalia and a frequent guest curator of exhibits, looks at the effects of technological change, the ...

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Overview

Part documentary, part nostalgic history, and part informational catalogue, Waterfowling on the Chesapeake, 1819–1936 explores a century of hunting on the Chesapeake Bay and its major tributaries—from the heyday of gun clubs and market shooting to the rise of conservation law. Drawing on oral histories and period documents and artifacts, C. John Sullivan, a longtime collector of decoys and hunting paraphernalia and a frequent guest curator of exhibits, looks at the effects of technological change, the relationship between hunter and dog, the recognition of decoys as folk art, and the history of hunting. He also introduces us to famous and lesser-known carvers and others who share an enthusiasm for this feature of Chesapeake cultural history and life.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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What People Are Saying

Pete Lesher

It is hard to imagine the extent of waterfowling in its heyday on the Chesapeake—the sheer abundance of migrating birds, the proliferation of gunning clubs and the number of sport and market gunners on these waters, the untold wooden decoys carved and used there. John Sullivan provides insight into this era and shares his deep appreciation for the material culture it has left behind. Waterfowling on the Chesapeake brings previously unexamined aspects of this heritage to light and reassesses some of the region's most prominent decoy carvers.

Pete Lesher, Curator, Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum

Henry H. Stansbury

The definitive book on Chesapeake wildfowl hunting has finally been written. John Sullivan has taken his forty plus years of carefully collecting gunning club records, decoy carving biographies, and hunting artifacts and turned it all into the published record and reference we will all use for years to come. Gun laws, duck police, Chesapeake retrievers, guns used, and brands burned into decoys, gun stocks, and the oars used on the sneak boats? It's all here and combined into a logical, readable, and entertaining presentation beyond our expectations.

Henry H. Stansbury, Maryland Historical Society

Samuel H. Dyke

The antique hunting decoy has become an icon of the Chesapeake Bay. If you have ever admired these old Chesapeake Bay decoys and wondered about the men who made and used them, Waterfowling on the Chesapeake is a must to read. John Sullivan, a lifelong student of Bay decoys and waterfowl hunting history, takes us to the elaborate gunning clubs of the nineteenth-century sportsmen and the less glamorous habitations of the hunters who supplied the Baltimore and Philadelphia markets with choice canvasback ducks. The evolution of waterfowling guns, the use of the deadly sinkbox for hunting offshore, and the origins of the famous retrieving and tolling dogs are woven into the fabric of this comprehensive account. The author shares with us his visits with old-time decoy carvers and waterfowl hunters, bringing to life the rich history of this unique area of Maryland.

Samuel H. Dyke, Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art

J. Fife Symington

Since the age of twelve, I have been exposed to shooting on the Chesapeake and its tributary rivers. John Sullivan has created an epic, in depth, study of all phases of this great wildfowling paradise. His readers will be treated to an exceptional visit to this historical sport that has given wholesome employment and tremendous pleasure to thousands.

J. Fife Symington, former chairman, Maryland Historical Society

Samuel H. Dyke
The antique hunting decoy has become an icon of the Chesapeake Bay. If you have ever admired these old Chesapeake Bay decoys and wondered about the men who made and used them, Waterfowling on the Chesapeake is a must to read. John Sullivan, a lifelong student of Bay decoys and waterfowl hunting history, takes us to the elaborate gunning clubs of the nineteenth-century sportsmen and the less glamorous habitations of the hunters who supplied the Baltimore and Philadelphia markets with choice canvasback ducks. The evolution of waterfowling guns, the use of the deadly sinkbox for hunting offshore, and the origins of the famous retrieving and tolling dogs are woven into the fabric of this comprehensive account. The author shares with us his visits with old-time decoy carvers and waterfowl hunters, bringing to life the rich history of this unique area of Maryland.
J. Fife Symington
Since the age of twelve, I have been exposed to shooting on the Chesapeake and its tributary rivers. John Sullivan has created an epic, in depth, study of all phases of this great wildfowling paradise. His readers will be treated to an exceptional visit to this historical sport that has given wholesome employment and tremendous pleasure to thousands.
Henry H. Stansbury
The definitive book on Chesapeake wildfowl hunting has finally been written. John Sullivan has taken his forty plus years of carefully collecting gunning club records, decoy carving biographies, and hunting artifacts and turned it all into the published record and reference we will all use for years to come. Gun laws, duck police, Chesapeake retrievers, guns used, and brands burned into decoys, gun stocks, and the oars used on the sneak boats? It's all here and combined into a logical, readable, and entertaining presentation beyond our expectations.
Pete Lesher
It is hard to imagine the extent of waterfowling in its heyday on the Chesapeake—the sheer abundance of migrating birds, the proliferation of gunning clubs and the number of sport and market gunners on these waters, the untold wooden decoys carved and used there. John Sullivan provides insight into this era and shares his deep appreciation for the material culture it has left behind. Waterfowling on the Chesapeake brings previously unexamined aspects of this heritage to light and reassesses some of the region's most prominent decoy carvers.
Samuel H. Dyke
The antique hunting decoy has become an icon of the Chesapeake Bay. If you have ever admired these old Chesapeake Bay decoys and wondered about the men who made and used them, Waterfowling on the Chesapeake is a must to read. John Sullivan, a lifelong student of Bay decoys and waterfowl hunting history, takes us to the elaborate gunning clubs of the nineteenth-century sportsmen and the less glamorous habitations of the hunters who supplied the Baltimore and Philadelphia markets with choice canvasback ducks. The evolution of waterfowling guns, the use of the deadly sinkbox for hunting offshore, and the origins of the famous retrieving and tolling dogs are woven into the fabric of this comprehensive account. The author shares with us his visits with old-time decoy carvers and waterfowl hunters, bringing to life the rich history of this unique area of Maryland.
J. Fife Symington
Since the age of twelve, I have been exposed to shooting on the Chesapeake and its tributary rivers. John Sullivan has created an epic, in depth, study of all phases of this great wildfowling paradise. His readers will be treated to an exceptional visit to this historical sport that has given wholesome employment and tremendous pleasure to thousands.
Henry H. Stansbury
The definitive book on Chesapeake wildfowl hunting has finally been written. John Sullivan has taken his forty plus years of carefully collecting gunning club records, decoy carving biographies, and hunting artifacts and turned it all into the published record and reference we will all use for years to come. Gun laws, duck police, Chesapeake retrievers, guns used, and brands burned into decoys, gun stocks, and the oars used on the sneak boats? It's all here and combined into a logical, readable, and entertaining presentation beyond our expectations.
Pete Lesher
It is hard to imagine the extent of waterfowling in its heyday on the Chesapeake the sheer abundance of migrating birds, the proliferation of gunning clubs and the number of sport and market gunners on these waters, the untold wooden decoys carved and used there. John Sullivan provides insight into this era and shares his deep appreciation for the material culture it has left behind. Waterfowling on the Chesapeake brings previously unexamined aspects of this heritage to light and reassesses some of the region's most prominent decoy carvers.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801871559
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 4/30/2003
  • Edition description: 20
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.86 (d)

Meet the Author

C. John Sullivan is director of the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation and a nationally recognized expert, appraiser, and collector of American waterfowl decoys. He is the author of Decoys: North American Carving Masterpieces Calendar for 2010 and 2011; Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, Decoys & Long Guns: Tales of Carroll’s Island Ducking Club; and Old Ocean City, the latter published by the Johns Hopkins University Press. He has contributed to Decoy Magazine and the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum Quarterly and writes a quarterly column, "Collector’s Corner," for the magazine The Canvasback. Decoys in his personal collection have been exhibited at the Havre de Grace Decoy Museum, Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art, and Maryland Historical Society. He is a lifelong resident of Fallston in Harford County, Maryland.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

Contents:Acknowledgments

Prologue On Entering the Becks' GarageTales From the Days of Plenty

The Gunning Clubs

Shooting Methods

The Era of the Sinkbox

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers

Waterfowling Firearms

Protecting a Maryland Tradition

Legislative Time LineFolk Art

Duck Decoys

In the Shop of Paul Gibson

Collecting Decoys in Harford County

Branded Decoys

Teal of the Upper Chesapeake

A Whiteness of SwansPortraits of Carvers

Charles Nelson Barnard

Robert F. McGaw, Jr.

Samuel Treadway Barnes

The Hollys of Havre de Grace

The Grahams of Charleston

The Crisfield Carvers

The Unknown CarverEpilogue Advice to a CollectorAppendix Maryland Decoy Carvers

Sources

Index

Johns Hopkins University Press

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