Illinois River Pintail
Decoys from the Illinois River region are among the most sought after examples of the decoy makers’ art. Entire books have been dedicated exclusively to Illinois River decoy makers and their decoys. The decoy pictured here is from a marvelous working drake Pintail by Charles Walker (1876-1954) of Princeton, Illinois.
Walker was a housepainter by trade and did not produce as many decoys as some of his contemporaries along the river (His output was somewhere around 1500 decoys.), but his decoys are among the most graceful and artistic birds ever produced. This Pintail, which has been pictured in several books, and graces the cover of DECOYS OF THE MISSISSIPPI FLYWAY by my friend, Alan Haid, is a prime example; it’s hollow, with an alert high head, a bit of a bump on each cheek, and his signature “graining” which was done with a comb while the paint was still wet to approximate feather patterns. A nearly identical rig mate to this bird sold at auction in 2000 for nearly $65,000. That’s not bad, considering that Walker sold his decoys for $100 a dozen in the late 1940’s and early 50’s!