A. Elmer Crowell

Male, Deceased Person

1862 – 1951


Who was A. Elmer Crowell?

A. Elmer Crowell was a master decoy carver from East Harwich, Massachusetts. Crowell specialized in shorebirds, waterfowl, and miniatures. Crowell's decoys are consistently regarded as the finest and most desirable decoys ever made.

Crowell's father, Anthony S. Crowell, was a mariner and cranberry grower who may not have even cared much for hunting. Despite this, he bought Elmer his first gun in 1874, when the boy was 12. The land around their East Harwich, MA home was rich in game and waterfowl, the numerous ponds and bays were a haven for sportsmen and market gunners from all over. Anthony Crowell owned property on Pleasant Lake near where the Crowells lived and Elmer built a gunning stand there in 1876. The stand stayed for many years while Elmer shot ducks, geese, and on occasion, shorebirds. Despite this early interest in hunting, Crowell long favored live decoys to the block variety, perhaps proving that his career in carving block decoys didn't start until later on. In 1947, Crowell related in his article, "Cape Cod Memories," that, "The shooting was great. But we could not sell them in the markets, as the law cut it out. Soon the law cut out the live decoys, and that was the end of good shooting there." Crowell certainly didn't begin making decoys to support himself until later in life. By the late 1920s, Crowell's decoys were being churned out at a prodigious rate, and the quality suffered. For this reason, decoys of his from this period are slightly less desirable than those made earlier.

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East Harwich
  • United States of America
Lived in
  • Massachusetts

on July 23, 2013


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