Articles

Mr. Decoy
Mr Decoy

Decoy duck expert Steven Lloyd has fielded questions from around the world and his reputation led to his being invited to participate in this year’s Canadian National Sportsman’s Show in Toronto later this month. Photo: Richard Turtle

By Richard Turtle

Stirling- Steven Lloyd knows an awful lot about decoy ducks. In fact, he probably knows more than anyone.
And he is certain to be fielding his share of questions at the upcoming Canadian National Sportsman’s Show in Toronto March 12-16 when more than 100,000 visitors are expected to flock to the Direct Energy Centre at Exhibition Place. Lloyd says after 30 years of studying decoys, their makers and their history he has been invited to numerous shows and exhibitions to share his expertise. This is the first time, however, that he has been invited to attend the huge Sportsman’s show.
He’s been called The Duck Man, The Decoy Guy and, yes, even a quack. But he calls himself Mr. Decoy of Canada and his National Decoy Information Centre has helped hundreds of people identify and evaluate thousands of wooden ducks. And while his knowledge has been tapped by organizations and collectors around the world, there is something he almost never asks for. Money.
How odd is that?
It’s virtually unheard of, says Lloyd. Other world-renowned experts can request thousands of dollars for public appearances and almost always charge for their advice but, he says, that’s simply not his style. “I like to cover my gas money,” he says. “But I honestly just do it because I’m passionate about it.”
He has been approached by countless groups and has provided his services for the likes of the Antiques Road Show, the Museum of Civilization and the top decoy auctioneers in the world. And there’s a lot of money in ducks. Some decoys have been sold at auction for more than a million dollars, he says, but those are considered to be the best of the best. But even in local terms, turn of the century ducks crafted by Bill Chrysler or William Hart both of Belleville are known around the world and have fetched more than $200,000 on today’s market.
There are a lot of them around, he says, and often people believe them to be of little value. But in his decades of appraising he has often rendered decoy owners speechless. More often, though, others have heard exactly what they expected. “But there’s always that one question,” he says. “What’s it worth?”
Depending on the condition, the maker, the age and the desirability, Lloyd says it’s not unusual to find decoys worth several thousand dollars. “I got an e-mail from a woman in California,” he says, “and she sent me pictures of about 20 decoys. Every one of them was worth at least a couple thousand dollars.” He wound up on the phone with her several times in the ensuing week as she had 10 times that many in her collection. “She invited me down to California to look at them all but I really didn’t need to do that. All I needed was the pictures. But,” he says with a laugh, “maybe I should have taken her up in it.”
Lloyd says in the business of decoy duck collecting there are some “experts” who seem to know very little about the birds themselves. Often he has heard appraisals that were quite simply way off the mark. But often, he says, those experts have a different agenda and the truth may be something they have little interest in telling.
Not the case for Steven Lloyd. He has no intention of misleading anyone, he says, and certainly no intention of making a buck off someone else’s ignorance. Besides, he already has more decoys than he knows what to do with.
In his home just south of Stirling the walls are lined with shelves that hold nothing but birds. Some are primitive, some are exquisitely crafted and some are even shot full of holes. But each one, he says, is a work of art. Much of his collection dates from the 1850s and into the twentieth century but some are older. And, he says, the idea of constructing decoys for the purpose of hunting has been around for thousands of years.
They were used in ancient civilizations, Lloyd notes, and even in North America some found in caves in Arizona are thought to be as much as two thousand years old. Those, he says, would have been made when the continent looked entirely different, “when there were large bodies of water there.”
Lloyd is always eager to discuss the subject with anyone willing to listen and can explain their manufacture, their design and exactly how they were used. And he’ll tell you how he first became interested.
It was more thirty years ago when he entered a garage in Trenton to discover the walls lined with decoys. Knowing far less than he does today, he bought several for $2 a piece later selling a couple of them for $10 each. “I felt like a millionaire,” he says but much later realized the entire collection, at today’s prices would fetch somewhere in the order of $500,000.
According to his website at decoyinfo.com, “You can start by sending a picture of your decoys to Steven. As a well seasoned world expert and Canada’s foremost authority on decoys he can often answer many of these questions with a glance.”
Or you can e-mail your questions to decoyinformation@aol.com.
And believe it or not, whether your decoy is worth a dollar or several thousand, he won’t charge you a cent. All Lloyd is really interested in, he says, is feeding his passion and learning more about an art form that was only ever intended to be functional and a craftsmanship and pride that has very nearly disappeared.

Contact Steven

National Decoy Information Centre
www.decoyinfo.com

Steven Lloyd, Canada’s Foremost Authority on Historical Decoys, has established a National Decoy Information Centre, www.decoyinfo.com. The Centre seeks to inform and educate people about the history and value of wooden decoys.

For more information contact the Centre:

 

“The National Decoy Information Centre”

Steven Lloyd
242 Sherry Road
Thomasburg Ontario Canada K0K 3H0

decoyinformation@aol.com
Phone 1-613-922-7000