In October, 1874, Herman Strater Jr. and William Sohier of Boston patented their idea for folding tin shore bird decoys. Each tin decoy was made in two halves, hinged together along the back. When not in use, the hollow decoys could be opened up, like empty clam shells, and nested together in a compact stack. After Strater and Sohier`s patent rights expired, other companies marketed thousands of the metal mock-ups. In a 1911 advertisement for Wm. Read & Son, tin plover decoys sold for $4 a dozen and yellowlegs for $4.50 a dozen.
Once at the shore, it was an easy task to assemble the birds. The hunter slipped a ring around each bird`s thigh to hold the tin body closed. Then the decoy was propped up on a stake, which imitated the real bird`s stiltlike legs and provided a way to anchor the bird firmly in the ground.
Most shore birds lay only a few eggs each breeding season; so they were particularly susceptible to the pressures of market and sport hunting. By 1875, shore bird numbers along the New Jersey coast had been cut to a tenth of what they had been 20 years before.
With the ratification of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act July 3, 1918, American bird lovers won a decisive victory in their bitterly fought war. Dozens of birds, including most shore birds, were removed from the country`s game lists, ending a memorable era of American hunting. At the exact moment that shore birds came under the protection of the government, shore bird decoys, including tinnies, became relics.
Tinnies in unmarred original paint and bearing Strater and Sohier`s 1874 patent stamp are particularly favored by collectors. More so are are sets of these decoys in their original wooden boxes.
There are NO 15-20% buyer's premium or shipping charges.
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