Obediah Verity

(1850 - 1910) Seaford, Long Island

With so many Verity families on Long Island and at least six Obediahs, identifying decoys is a difficult task. Until Grubie Verity saved the day, Obediah’s decoys were attributed to Henry F. Osborn or Captain Ben Verity. Obediah was a bayman all his life, but harbored a great talent for decoy carving. Along with William Bowman and Torn Gelston, Obediah formed a trio of Long Island’s most prominent carvers. There are many examples of Verity shorebirds with similar shapes and paint patterns, but Obediah’s work has a distinct impressionistic bent to it.

Obediah’s pudgy shorebirds and round-bodied ducks have a well-fed appearance. He carved terns to lure birds shot for feathers and carved feeding birds to entice hungry birds that might otherwise fly out of range. Details like carved eyes, bills and nostrils grace each bird Obediah produced. To insure sturdiness, the base of the neck flares and comprises the top part of the decoy’s chest. Wings are outlined with an S-shape carved at the shoulders, and the two wingtips meet near the tail. From the wingtips to the end of the long high-set tail runs a definite ridge. Plumage patterns consist of solid blocks of color with hard-edged outlines. Because hunters held Obediah Verity’s decoys in high esteem, many of them have survived in excellent condition.