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Ward Brothers

 (20th Century)
Ward Brothers was active/lived in Maryland.  Ward Brothers is known for collaborative sculpture-decoys.

Ward Brothers

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Biography from the Archives of askART

Biography photo for Ward Brothers
The Ward Brothers - Steven (b. 1895 / d.1976) Lemuel (b.1897 / d.1984)

Along with their father, the brothers began working as barbers. The two started working as wooden wildfowl carvings, commonly know as decoy making, c.1920.  They started making the decoys at their barber shop but gradually moved their workshop to their home.  In the Depression years of the 1930s their was an increase for demand of their decoys as more people began to hunt to feed their families. At the end of the Depression there was demand for the Ward Brother's decoys with the growing interest in sport hunting and gunning clubs from hunters who could afford the best.

In the 1945 to 1950, the brothers replaced their classic style of cedar decoys to simpler decoys with a balsa body and pine or cedar head. By the 1950s good carving wood was scarce and factory-made decoys supplied the needs of most hunters, and customers. Steve started to carved a "collector grade" of full-sized decoys which Lem painted.

The two brothers appeared in National Geographic in September 1964 and were awarded honorary doctorates by Salisbury State College in 1972. In 1983, Lem Ward won the National Endowment for Arts' National Heritage Fellowship.
In the late 1960s, Steve's eyesight was beginning to fail.  Lem had a stroke and other medical problems c.1970 which forced Lem to retire ending five decades of carving that produced an estimated 25,000 pieces.
Steven Ward died in 1976, followed by his brother Lemuel Ward in 1984.

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