59 School Street, Box 1310, Edgartown MA 02539 - 508.627.4441
Martha's Vineyard Museum MV Museum


c. 1930

Henry Keyes Chadwick (1865–1958)

Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts

Wood, paint, lead

Purchase, Allan M. and Shelley L. Holt gift

Hunting ducks and geese was more than sport on Martha's Vineyard during the 1800s and early 1900s when a successful hunt meant a good dinner.

Decoys were part of that successful hunt.

Made to fool birds, decoys were important tools in the hunter's kit. When properly placed by the hunter, decoys attract waterfowl looking for a safe location with ample food and the possibility of finding a mate.

Keyes Chadwick was the Vineyard's only professional decoy carver of his generation. He supplied hunters with expertly carved decoys for seventy years. Stanley Murphy, artist and author of the standard reference on Martha's Vineyard decoys, called Chadwick's ducks "smoothly finished, graceful, and sometimes even stately birds." This redhead drake decoy is a fine example of his work.

As inexpensive, mass-produced wooden and plastic decoys became available, the hand-carved and painted examples were relegated to mantels and eventually museums. There are dozens of decoys in the Museum's collection, most of them made by Vineyard carvers.

With thanks to the following individuals who have adopted this object for one year: Julianna Flanders.