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The cover story about book covers...

I published my softcover book in 2004 as "Volume I" because I expected to follow up with a hardcover edition and pictorial guide. The decoy on the cover of the softcover is my favorite teal made by Harvey. The decoy is near mint - complete with the original shipping canvas bag from Harvey's shop - it's a real shelf beauty.

By 2008, and still without a comprehensive book on the market, I decided to go forward with the "Collector's Edition". I added a pictorial guide and part of my decoy log records. I printed it as a hardcover book with a heavy dust jacket. Each book is numbered and signed (limited to 500 copies).

For this, I tried something different for the cover of a decoy book. I placed the earliest known decoy made by Harvey A. Stevens, circa 1865. Although this early period is ignored by some collectors, Harvey's earliest decoys reveal extraordinary talent in construction and paint; the weaving comb technique on the mallard looks like Harvey's giant fingerprint. This decoy isn't a shelf prize - it is a sporting soldier. To me, it is the perfect symbol of decoy collecting; combining art and utility; beauty and the beast. Unfortunately, the photo was muted in production and the blue coloring didn't work very well with the decoy. I received lots of negative feedback about the cover.

That feedback would last for 6 years.

Then, in 2014, I decided to create a new dust jacket for my remaining copies, making it my "Tenth Anniversary Dust Jacket" with a new design featuring a classic paddletail matched pair of Stevens Decoys on the wrap around cover (keeping some consistency, at least in theme). I also designed the inside panels with photos of decoys in "paired sets" illustrating the evolution of the Stevens Decoy - from the early tackeye period to a transitional tackeye period, then the traditional tackeye period and finally, the classic glasseye decoys. The evolution is easy to see in these photos. I placed a mallard in each set to demonstrate the evolving paint pattern of one species in a colorful drake. The complaints have stopped and I promise: no more book covers.


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