Harald Thengs (1893-1974) Babylon, Long Island
Between the mid 1930's and early 1940's, Harald Thengs produced his highly stylized decoys (Kangas, "Viking" 13). His long sleek decoys with distinctive heads ride low on the water and bear a striking resemblance to Viking dragonships or longships. Quality is consistent throughout Thengs' rig of one herring gull, two scaup, five goldeneyes, six old squaws, eight black ducks, twelve mergansers and a dozen scoters (Kangas, "Viking" 11). Thengs glued cracks and touched up nicks when they occurred and freshened the paint from time to time to insure the longevity of each decoy's life. Each decoy is unique, yet displays variations in texture and style of tail and wingtip carving. Some decoys have nostril carving and pronounced body contours, but others do not. Some decoys have inletted bills, combs and tails, while others do not. With each decoy, neck and keel lengths vary, though each keel is uniformly long and sturdy. These bold keels are attached with brass eye screws and designed to cut through water. Thengs crafted each decoy with a symmetrical body supporting a neck that thrusts upwards. Every bird has a pointed bill with a carved nail. The permanently crested heads look straight ahead with eyes custom made from mixtures of multi-colored pigments and glue. To create areas of thick texture, primarily for the heads and necks of black duck and merganser decoys, Thengs mixed powdered pigments with paint. Thengs designed his carvings strictly for hunting rigs, but did enter the U.S. Nationals.