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Fish Decoys
7-1/2" long with tack eyes
6" long, The top color is really mustard, not rust as the picture shows.
5-1/2" long with pinned glass eyes and pierced tin dorsal fin.
5-1/2" long
Carved by Neil Canfield, Wisconsin, 8" long with carved gills.
Seventy years ago, when the ravages of the Great Depression erased jobs, emptied cupboards and made winter even more cruel, the fish decoy suddenly became a vital tool for many upper Midwesterners. They relied on these flashy hookless lures to attract fish so that they could spear them through the ice.
However, the practice of fishing with decoys was invented long before the depressed days of the 1930 s. It is generally believed that Native Americans from nose-numbing climes were the first to lure fish with decoys as early as 1000 AD. The Indians primarily Ojibways (Chippewas) shared their skills with the white man and thus we see the development of winter spearing as we know it today.
Fish Decoys were used during the nineteenth and the first half of the 20th centuries almost exclusively in the Great Lakes area by winter fisherman who built small shanties over large holes in the ice. The interior of the shanty was usually painted black so that a curious fish, investigating the decoy that had been dropped through the hole could easily be seen. Inside the shack or in the case of the Indians, the teepee, the ice hole gives off a frosty luminescence, kind of like a TV screen without the test pattern.
We absolutely guarantee these fish decoys to be the "real deal". While all have nicely oxidized polychrome surfaces that show some expected wear due to age and usage, the colors still remain bright and the paint for the most part, intact. The tails suggest movement through the water as they gently curve . . . this curvature, with the tail splayed outward allowed the decoy to be maneuvered in a circle by jigging from a stick, attracting the fish. All sheet metal fins are intact and original, as are the painted, tack or glasseyes. All retain the original lead weight. All are fine, honest examples of this genre of Folk Art and are guaranteed to be old. I can t help much with species as the only fish I recognize are on a menu or in the market.

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