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909 South Schumaker Drive
Salisbury, MD 21804
410.742.4988

Museum Hours

Mon - Sat: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Sun: 12 p.m. - 5 p.m.

Charles Bergman (1856-1946) Astoria, OR  

Charles Bergman was born in Finland, but left the country to sail around the world as a young man. George and Baker Company boat yards employed Bergman as a boatbuilder. When he was not building boats, Bergman hunted wildfowl and sent any excess to the market in Portland. Bergman was in his seventies when he retired and started to concentrate on making decoys. Area hunters ordered great quantities of his lures, so for about ten years, Bergman was producing approximately a dozen decoys per week. His total output comes out to more than four thousand decoys during the late 1920's and early 1930's (Engers 264).

Bergman's decoys display an unmistakable Mason influence, but bear characteristics that are his alone. Bergman hollowed each decoy from western red cedar and carved gently curving profiles. Forward facing heads with flattened crests perch on short necks, and long thick tails sweep upwards. Bold brushstrokes accented with scratch painting and matchstick dots cover smooth surfaces. These sturdy lures functioned well and are pleasing to the eye. Bergman carved canvasbacks, green-winged teal, mallards, pintails, wigeon, a special order rig of scaup and a dozen whistling swans. These five-piece swans were made the same year swan shooting became illegal, so they were relegated to storage until Bergman's grandson, Chuck, was old enough to play with them. After tripping over the swans one too many times, Grandma Bergman hacked apart all but two of the swans and used the rest for kindling.