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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 Perdew (1874-1963) Henry, IL

By the mid-1930's, Charlie Perdew had turned over his gun repair business to his son Haddon and started carving miniatures, half sizes and full sizes of all kinds of birds. Pine was his primary carving medium, unless the buyer supplied the wood. If necessary, Perdew utilized timbers from old bridges, beams from empty buildings or leftover wood from sash and door factories to his advantage. From these sources, he carved semi-hollow three¬piece decoys. These early decoys were V-shaped and had large heads with full cheeks. Later decoys were still carved from pine, but these were two-pieced with more of a rounded bottom and fuller chests. For the sake of practicality, Perdew's gunning decoys, both regular- and over-sized, were hollow, while his half-sizes and miniatures were solid. All Perdew decoys received detailed head carving and some had raised wings and slightly turned heads whittled with a pocket knife. Perdew did the majority of the carving with a drawknife, wood gouge and whittling knife. Because of the belt sander Perdew used, the back of the neck on some of his decoys is somewhat ridged, and the end of the body under the tail is pointed instead of rounded.

Perdew reproduced just about every species common to the Midwest. Both he and his wife Edna painted the decoys. She created a look with combing that was feathery, while he used a stiff brush and did bold outlining. To identify the lures he and his wife produced, Perdew hand-cast weights reading "Henry ... PERDEW ... Ill." (Dunham, "Detailed" 5).