Knott’s Island Canvasback
This Canvasback, replicated from an original in the collection of my old buddy Dick McIntyre was made by Lee Dudley (1860-1942) and is one of my personal favorites. (Dick and I were actually in a bidding war over a Dudley back in the early 80’s, which I was lucky enough to end up with!) I have owned several great Dudley decoys. One (a Redhead) was actually GIVEN to me in the early 1970’s by an old gunner who had a box of Currituck battery decoys (almost all re-headed clunkers) in his attic. It had almost no paint on it, had a lot of dings and shot holes, but it had the characteristic “LD” branded deep into the bottom and the original weight. I did not know what it was at the time.
The Canvasback that Dick loaned me has one of the more interesting decoy stories attached to it, but I was there, so I know it to be true. One Sunday in the early 1980’s in Virginia Beach, an elderly gent had been cleaning his garage and placing his junk on the curb for a morning pick-up by the city sanitation folks. On the top of the pile were 3 battered old decoys and a ratty canvas gym bag. The gent’s neighbor suggested that they bring the 3 decoys to the Mid-Atlantic Waterfowl Art & Decoy Show at the old dome near the beach. I was standing among a group of decoy collectors when the old gent, who thought he might get $20 or so, pulled THREE of the rarest decoys in the world (Lee Dudley’s) from that ratty old bag and handed one to me. I almost had a heart attack. I had just sold a small painting for $500 and was about to offer the old man $500 for the decoy I had in my hand, when my friend, author and decoy expert, Henry Fleckenstein, said “I’ll give you $4500 for the 3 of them.” The old man nearly fainted, but went home with $4500 in his pocket.
The miniature here is a pretty close replica of one of those decoys, which is one of the all-time CLASSICS and one of the most sought-after decoys in the decoy collecting world, the “Dudley” Canvasback.