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 D. K. Nichol  (1859 - 1949)

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Lived/Active: Ontario / Canada      Known for: Duck decoy carving

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Ad Code: 4
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
Hollow carved bluebill drake
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
David K. "Davey" Nichol (1859 – 1949)

A prominent early Canadian decoy* carver, David K. "Davey" Nichol appears to have lived and worked his whole life in Smith Falls, Ontario. He and his brother Adam (1864 – 1928) were important influences to a decoy carving dynasty in Smith Falls. The Canadian Museum of Civilization has 44 of the family’s carvings in its collection. (1)

Attached below is a brief biography courtesy of The Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art:

Davey Nichol lived as a bachelor with his brother Adam or "Addy" [or Addie]. The two hunted together and started carving together after they became so disgusted with their mail-order decoys that they burnt the birds in a bonfire. The decoys they carved for themselves provided the basis for the family business they eventually established.

Davey Nichol was a boat builder and incorporated the same high-quality craftsmanship he used in building boats for carving decoys. He spent winter nights in front of the stove with his brother, holding the block on his lap and carving with knives and chisels. He concentrated on scaup, but also did some whistlers and about twenty black ducks (Fleming 88). Each duck has a smooth body, raised wings and a careful paint job.

For the flat bottom board, Nichol used chestnut or butternut wood because it is supposed to be more resistant to rotting than cedar. Nichol carved birds in a variety of positions and textured the surfaces with a tool that made tiny perforations to create feathery lines. Nichol never became a commercial carver, but he did sell off his old rigs once he had made new ones. When his brother died, Davey Nichol gave up carving and waterfowl hunting, but not before he influenced his nephew, Davey W.

Source for above: The Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art, Salisbury, MD.
(1) Most of the works in the CMC collection are by D.W. Nichol (see AskART).
Additional sources:
Collecting Antique Bird Decoys and Duck Calls: An Identification and Price Guide (2003), by Carl Luckey and Russell E. Lewis (see AskART book references) [see Nichols]

The Great Book of Wildfowl Decoys (2000), edited by Joe Engers (see AskART book references)

An Illustrated Companion to Canadian Folk Art (1999), by Blake McKendry (see AskART book references)

Decoys (1992), by Gene and Linda Kangas (see AskART book references)

A Dictionary of Folk Artists in Canada from the 17th Century to the Present (1988), by Blake McKendry (see AskART book references)

Traditions in Wood: A History of Wildfowl Decoys in Canada (1987), edited by Patricia Fleming (see AskART book references)

Canadian Museum of Civilization, Gatineau, Quebec

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary

Submitted by M.D. Silverbrooke.

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at
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