The birth of American decoys lies along the New England shoreline particularly in the Connecticut marsh and river systems. The town of Stratford lays claim to most of the noteworthy carvers who became legends, if not in their own time, and who are currently recognized as the “founding fathers” of the art form. Albert Laing (1811 - 1886), Benjamin Holmes (1843 - 1912) and Charles “Shang” Wheeler (1872 - 1949) to name a few.
The lessons provided by these men reached far and wide and became the model from which new innovations and styles developed. The decoys they made were for hunting over but are now fetching the highest prices at auctions to be placed on mansion mantels and in the offices of Presidents and CEO’s.
One of the most notable students of this backdrop was John Scheeler (1925 - 1987) from Mays Landing, NJ. He has become one of the most revered decorative wildfowl artist of the 20th century, winning the World Championship seven times, and over 200 other first place and Best of Show awards. He did not begin carving until 1969 but was another recipient of a Wildlife World sponsorship which allowed him to devote full time to his work as he developed the best decoratives that were being produced in his era.