The Ear received a rather intriguing press release from an auction firm. It says:
"On Nov. 11, a very rare pair of duck decoys from Astoria will be auctioned off by the decoy auction firm of GUYETTE & SCHMIDT INC. at their annual fall decoy auction in Easton, Md. This pair of GREENWING TEAL DECOYS, pictured above, top, were carved by CHARLES BERGMAN (1856-1946), pictured above, bottom right, of Astoria. Bergman, who is featured in the book 'Wildfowl Decoys of the Pacific Coast,' by Michael Miller and Fred Hanson, made most of his decoys starting in the late 1920s and sold them for $1.25 each. Bergman also made several other species of decoys including swans, mallards, pintails, widgeon and canvasbacks."
The Finnish American Virtual Museum (www.favm.net) says Bergman, who was born in Ekenäs, Finland, came to the U.S. as a first mate on a clipper ship. He moved to Astoria around 1880, and is "recognized as the founding father of the Astoria school of decoy makers." A boatbuilder, at first he carved for his own use while hunting. It wasn't until he retired in 1929 that he started carving decoys commercially. The FAVM speculates he carved more than 5,000 decoys in his career.
The auction press had another tidbit to add: "A record price for a Bergman decoy was established in January 2000 when Guyette & Schmidt Inc. sold a Bergman swan for $35,650."
Yikes! Especially when the Ear read on the Ward Museum site (www.wardmuseum.org) that Bergman made a rig of 12 five-piece WHISTLING SWAN DECOYS, one of which is pictured above, bottom left, right around the time it became illegal to shoot swans. Off the swan decoys went to storage until a grandson was old enough to play with them. "After tripping over the swans one too many times, Grandma Bergman hacked apart all but two of the swans and used the rest for kindling," the Ward Museum site says. If it's true Grandma bashed the birds (yes, there really are only two left), that's some pretty spendy kindling!