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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.

Orran Hiltz (1901-1978) Indian Point, Nova Scotia  

Orran Hiltz resided in the small fishing village of Indian Point where decoy carvers produced birds in the Lunenburg County style. Fishermen exchanged and shared patterns and criticism, and it is said that somebody once broke into Hiltz's workshop to steal his patterns. Hiltz carved between four and five hundred merganser, seaduck and whistler decoys that portray his highly stylized technique. His work may seem innovative, but Hiltz simply refined the basic form of the earlier carvers in the area. Nevertheless, Hiltz constantly experimented with the features of his decoys. His mergansers have long curved bodies with rounded backs and protruding chests that give way to thin necks. The crescent-shaped wings are relief-carved, yet flat and point towards upswept tails. Most of the eyes on the decoys are carved or painted or both, and the mergansers have long sharp bills and definite serrated wooden crests. Towards the late 1950's, Hiltz began to simplify his carving style by doing away with the raised wings and lowering the tails (Guyette 22). Simplified or not, Hiltz's decoys remain fine pieces of work.