Delaware River Style Black Duck Decoy – Clarence Fennimore
Delaware River style Black Duck. Hand carved, hollow cedar, painted with oils, signed and stamped by the artist.
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Born and raised in Bordentown, New Jersey, Clarence Fennimore grew up hunting on the Delaware River and Barnegat Bay. Inspired and influenced by his uncle, decoy maker Harry Fennimore (1886-1970), among others, he grew to love the trappings and traditions of duck hunting. As a result, he began collecting old decoys while still a teenager. He began making decoys in the 1980s and has carved in both the Barnegat Bay and Delaware River school styles. His work is exceptional and incredibly popular with a dedicated legion of collectors. Honors and recognition are nothing new to Clarence.
He was the 2001 contemporary carver featured at the Tuckerton Seaport Museum, the New Jersey Decoy Collectors Association’s Carver of the Year in 2002, and his pintail was the featured decoy on the 2003 New Jersey Duck Stamp. In 2007, he was selected for inclusion in the book Sixty Living and Outstanding North American Carvers, and in 2012 he was elected to the New Jersey Decoy Collectors Association’s Carvers Hall of Fame. He was one of only two carvers to represent New Jersey at the 2004 Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C., and one of six Garden State carvers to compete in the 2004 Mid-Atlantic Decoy Competition. Through his regular volunteer carving demonstrations, Clarence has shared the traditions of decoy making with literally thousands of visitors to the Tuckerton Seaport. He has loaned dozens of decoys from his collection for displays and exhibits, worked to recruit and mentor future decoy makers and decoy collectors, and generously sponsored categories in contemporary decoy competitions.
He is an active member of the New Jersey Decoy Collectors Association and served as chairman of the club’s annual decoy shows. He has been a champion of the East Coast Decoy Collectors Association since its inception and for years, has helped lead and coordinate its annual gatherings in St. Michael’s, Maryland. And, while living in New Jersey meant he couldn’t actively participate in PDCA meetings, Clarence has been a longstanding member of the club and a strong supporter of its efforts, exhibitions, and scholarship. Having received multiple nominations from numerous PDCA members over many years, Clarence was the unanimous choice as this year’s honoree. And “Fenn,” as he is affectionately known to friends and fellow collectors, has a well-earned reputation as one of the nicest guys in the decoy world. In that respect, and in so many others, he shares the qualities that made Ralph Campbell such a wonderful part of the decoy community and such an important part of our club: a passion for decoys, willingness to share all he knows, a great sense of humor, humility and kindness.
In 2020 the Potomac Decoy Collectors Association Honored Fennimore with the Annual Ralph Campbell Memorial Award for Goodwill and Ambassadorship. Named for one of the PDCA’s co-founders, the honor salutes those within the decoy collecting community who work to share, celebrate, and preserve the art and history of waterfowl decoys. In so many ways and for so many decades, Fennimore has been doing just that. Through preserving and interpreting decoys and waterfowling history, public exhibitions and education, and countless carving demonstrations, he has worked to keep the history and traditions of the decoy alive for future generations.