John H. Baker

(1916 - 2004) Clifton, NJ

John Baker is believed to have been born in Clifton, New Jersey. In 1933, he and his family moved to Edgely, Pennsylvania.  He worked for the Paterson Parchment and Paper Company in Bristol and retired in 1975.

In 1936, Baker made a rig of eighteen black ducks, which he hunted over along the Delaware River. He carved no more decoys (as far as anyone knows) until 1975 when he sold the remaining ducks and resumed carving. He is credited with about 75 black duck, mallard, teal and pintail decoys. His birds tend to be larger than life and may reflect the influence of Joe King (1905 – 1992), an Edgely carver known for his fully rounded, well painted black duck decoys. This carver is not the same Joe King (1835 – 1913) who carved in Parkertown, New Jersey.

Baker’s early decoys are hollow, made in two pieces, nicely rounded, and well formed. The primaries join over the tail in typical Delaware style. Tail feathers are grooved. He is known to have constructed his own hunting boats, or skulls.

For additional information

Decoy Magazine, Nov.-Dec. 1989

Decoys of the Mid-Atlantic Region, 1979, Henry A. Fleckenstein

New Jersey Decoys, 1983, Henry A. Fleckenstein

Working Decoys of the Jersey Coast and Delaware Valley, 1985, Kenneth L. Gosner