Verne Chessman (1897-1956) Macomb, Illinois
A well known regional carver, Verne Chessman spent the greater part of his life in and around Macomb. He was a productive carver, who over a span of nearly 40 years, produced hundreds of mallard, pintail, teal, geese, canvasback, bluebill and ring-necked decoys. The work he produced is rugged and practical.
An acquaintance of Chessman was Charles Perdew (1874 - 1963), perhaps "the most important, prolific and versatile carver from the region". Chessman reportedly used some of Perdew's patterns and, on occasion employed the artistic talent of Charles' wife Edna to paint his decoys. At times, it can require a knowledgeable eye to distinguish a Chessman decoy from that of a Perdew.
Chessman worked as a guide for the members of the Sanganois Duck Club (1902) near Browning. He did his own hunting at the Millman Lake Duck Club in Henderson County on the Mississippi River. An occasional hunting companion was Ross Murphy (1882 - 1955). Murphy produced a small number of decoys for his own use after the style of Chessman. Although it is not unusual for carvers to adopt the patterns of other carvers for their own use, the veteran collector is usually able to distinguish the style and character unique to the individual carver.
For additional information
Decoys and Decoy Carvers of Illinois, 1979 by Paul W. Parma lee & Forest D. Loomis The Great Book of Wildfowl Decoys, 1990 by Joe Engers, Ed.
Masterworks of the Illinois River: decoys from the collection of Thomas K. Figge, 2005 by Stephen B. O'Brien Jr. and Julie Carlson Perdew: An Illinois River Tradition, 1993 by Ann Tandy Lacy.
The Wooden Bird: Heritage Carvers of the Upper Illinois River, 1989 by Ann Tandy Lacy.