A. Elmer Crowell
Elmer Crowell was born in 1862 in East Harwich, Massachusetts which is near Cape Cod. He started making a rig of black ducks for his own use when he was 14. He recalled the days when he worked at hunting camps, handling the live decoys. When the live decoys were outlawed he gave up hunting and started making serious decoys out of wood.
He was a master carver of solid, flat-bottomed decoys and decorative. Most of his decoys are made with cedar with a pine head. He also made oversize slat goose decoys. He was considered a better painter then a carver even though he was extraordinary in both.
His earliest shorebird decoys were breathtaking. His decoys were so breathtaking that when shorebird shooting was outlawed in 1918 he took his decoys and put legs on them, or put them on a stand for decorative display without altering the actual carving.
He identified his works by branding a large oval on the bottom that read “A. Elmer Crowell/ Decoys/ East Harwich, Mass.”
He also made very realistic miniatures. He made them in singles and in pairs, usually standing on the distinctive round mound with webbed feet painted on the mound, and in various positions of the live bird. He made miniatures in sets of 25.
He routinely worked with his son, Cleon. Cleon adapted his father’s sense of carving and painting. Cleon continued carving after his father’s death in 1952.