Charles H. Hart (1862-1960) Gloucester, MA
Charlie Hart was a stone contractor and mason who hunted every now and then and made decoys for his brother, Nat and his friends. Hart concentrated on a handful of species including black ducks, Canada geese, goldeneyes and mallards. Some of the decoys were left solid, others were hollowed. Of the hollow decoys, some were given bottoms and some were not; Hart did not seem to settle on one particular style. Careful wing carving and detailed painting characterize Hart's work. The "flapper," a stick-up black duck, seems to best epitomize this attention to detail. This hollow decoy was carved around 1900 and has a head that can be turned and detached wings that flap when the hunter pulls a string under the tail. Though the flapper looks more like a toy than a working decoy, it was a functioning piece that Hart took to France's Sporting Goods Store in Boston as a sample of his work. Hart also carved decoratives later in his career and made species like penguins that stood anywhere between shelf size and four feet tall (Engers 56).
Hart may not have carved in mass quantity, but his carving style was worthy of emulation as is evident through the work of Captain Henry Oakes (1900-1973) from Gloucester, MA. Oakes' copies have been so carefully carved in Hart's manner that it lS difficult for experts to tell them apart. Some of the black duck decoys that Oakes produced are even better than Hart's originals.