Collector’s Shelf: John W. Austin

July decoy

John W. Austin July 11, 1891 – April 11,1981

Born on Hatteras Island, NC where his father William Riley was the lighthouse keeper. At an early age of 6 months John’s father was transferred to the Corolla lighthouse. 

John grew up in Corolla Village and became a waterman and market hunter. During his market hunting days John sold waterfowl to the owner of a steamboat named “Comet” who would buy ducks and geese for the market. After the war John became a waterfowling guide in the 1920’s and 1930’s. John made his own decoys and became an accomplished decoy carver. His decoys were durable and sturdy and had a very appealing look. John made decoys for various clubs that he guided for near Corolla, NC such as the Lighthouse Club, the Whalehead club and the O’Neal Lodge in Seagull. John Austin made several styles of decoys in his lifetime. This canvasback is one of the larger decoys he made. 

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