Charles B. Walker (1876-1954) Princeton, IL
Charles Walker was a house painter and decorator by trade and picked up decoy carving as a sideline. Though he was not a member, he carved exclusively for the prestigious Princeton Fish and Game Club established by the social elites of Bureau County. The two-piece hollow decoys feature sleek bodies and high heads to represent puddle ducks swimming through marsh grasses. Over a prime coat of white lead, Walker painted most of the decoy surface with a graining comb. Walker did all the painting himself using commercial painting kits and on occasion, painted decoys for other carvers. With a drawknife, jack knife, spokeshave and wood gouges made by his grandfather, Walker turned well-proportioned birds that have few equals as far as quality of workmanship is concerned. Each rig of about two or three dozen mallards possessed some variations like delineated wings or flat or rounded bottoms to make it unique from the previous rig (Engers 241). At the outset, Walker charged only $30 per dozen for his decoys, but later commanded $100 per dozen (Loomis 254). Price hikes did not seem to deter his customers; Walker sold all the decoys he could make, though he only produced between 1,000 and 1,500 decoys (Loomis 252). Mallard drakes and hens and pintail drakes comprised the majority of his rigs, but he did carve a few canvasbacks and green-wing teal. Walker carved gunning decoys for the most part, but he did make a few miniatures for his family as gifts.