Greater Yellowlegs Shorebird - George Boyd
Seabrook, NH, C. 1910
George Boyd (1873 - 1941), like many residents of Seabrook, NH, was active in market hunting to supplement his income to provide food and funds for the family. The saltwater marshes along the New Hampshire coastline provided a natural environment for commercial clamming, fishing and hunting.
Though a shoemaker by trade as listed in the census of 1900, Boyd also earned money as a market gunner, harvesting birds to sell to the markets in major cities like Portsmouth, Portland and Boston. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act that was passed in 1918 outlawed Market Gunning of all species except Yellowlegs and Black-bellied Plover which could be hunted for sport only and only in season until 1923. George replaced the money he lost because of gunning restrictions and turned to carving decoys to sell to Iver Johnson Sporting Goods Company in Boston. In his 60's he turned to carving miniatures which he sold for 50 cents apiece!
He is considered one of the premier carvers of our time and until recently not much was known about him. Mackey included two Boyd Shorebirds in his book with the caption "Shorebirds by a prolific but unknown maker". That is no longer the case since the book Finely Carved and Nicely Painted . . . The Life, Art and Decoys of George H. Boyd was written by Jim Cullen.
Because Boyd's decoys are uniform in appearance and easily identifiable they are readily distinguishable from other makers. They are very pleasing to the eye and have stood the test of time. They are avidly collected and remain superb examples of Folk Art . . . proudly displayed in numerous museum and private collections. They elicit an emotional response . . . they "speak" to us over 100 years of a time that was long ago, a much simpler time, and man's reverence for nature. The bird is "Classic" Boyd. The surface is now old; over all condition is fine, great paint; attitude is typical Boyd masterpiece. (Height on stand: 14.5"; length: 11"; width: 3")
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