Samuel Barnes

(1857 - 1926) Havre de Grace, MD

Samuel Barnes was a fisherman, guide and market hunter who produced black duck, Canada goose, redhead and scaup decoys for his own hunting needs. In addition to the aforementioned species, Barnes carved two different sizes of canvasbacks. One was a standard size while the other was made larger to help hide the sinkbox gunners. His best known decoys replicate swans, one of which is on display at Vermont’s Shelburne Museum. Barnes carved what was probably the Chesapeake Bay’s earliest cork decoys and fitted them with pine heads and bottom boards. Early Barnes decoys have an overall squarish appearance with straight sides on long bodies, but later ones have rounded features. All of the decoys Barnes produced exhibit wing and feather patterns. Some of the heads were carved by his brother John and attached to Samuel’s bodies just as heads carved by Samuel are turning up on other carvers’ birds. Decoys carved by Samuel Barnes continue to be discovered.