About the Author

A native Philadelphian, Jim Doherty graduated from Temple University in 1969 with an MBA in marketing. He is the CEO of Weber Display and Packaging, Inc., a full-service corrugated and permanent display manufacturer located in Philadelphia.

Jim first began collecting New Jersey and Delaware River decoys and later expanded his collecting into other hunting regions as his interest and knowledge steadily grew. Over a period of thirty years, he has built one of the most respected and diverse collections of decoys in the United States. As a serious scholar of decoy history, his collection includes not only many classic examples, but a wide variety of species by the most important carvers in all hunting regions.

Jim first looks for great form and then original paint. Other details, such as species, maker, and rarity only become important in his analysis after the first two criteria are met. As a result of this collecting discipline, the number of decoys in original condition makes his collection unique and ideal for study. “Doc”, as he is often referred to by friends, willingly shares his collection with any collectors who want to learn. For many years he has answered collectors’ questions for hours in his room at the East Coast Decoy Collectors Association’s spring meeting held every year in St. Michaels, Maryland. He always brings important decoys to show as well. One of his personal goals is to share his knowledge with collectors at every level so they can avoid making the mistakes that he did.

Though his decoy collection is nationally known for its diversity, collecting Barnegat Bay decoys remains his passion. Motivated by his interest in local history, he always fights hard to bring classic objects made in New Jersey back home. As someone who has been on the other end of the phone as Jim purchased many world-class decoys at auction over the years, I can tell you from personal experience that he is a fierce competitor and a passionate collector.

I remember in the early 80s that I thought he was making a mistake asking me to buy the Shourds heron that was being sold at an early Bourne Auction. I quickly changed my mind and was filled with pride when the crowd gave me a loud ovation when I purchased it. I was to learn later that the man in the wheelchair next to me who shook my hand in congratulations was Dr. Jim McCleary. Of course no one knew that I had acquired the heron for Jim or that it would turn out to be the first “keeper” purchased for his collection. This important heron returned home with me and resides with the thirtyother H.V. Shourds decoys and shorebirds that are in original paint in his collection.

When Jim purchased the two Horner black ducks from the Sandor rig that came to auction, Jackson Parker, not understanding their high prices, interviewed me about them as part of his coverage for that auction. They attracted Jackson’s attention because high prices for Jersey decoys were not common at the time.

His early acquisition of the two Horner widgeon drakes from a private collection also caused quite a stir as those decoys had remained unknown to most collectors. I made a special trip to his house just to see and handle them, and when he put them into my hands, I literally sat speechless for ten minutes in awe, not believing my eyes. The two Horner widgeons were the finest New Jersey decoys I had ever handled. The New Jersey portion of Jim’s decoy collection has evolved to evidence itself as the strength of his collection.

He sometimes questions conventional wisdom regarding attributions used on certain decoys and he enjoys honest debate. Frequent and sometimes long discussions with him have not only influenced my way of looking at decoys but also guided my dealing with issues found in everyday life as well. Our closeness as friends and our mutual passion for decoys has allowed us to have serious discussions covering many controversial subjects unpublished in the literature.

Jim is a supporter of several museums, especially those that include things he collects, and in September of 1995 he was honored as the first person to receive the New Jersey Decoy Collector of the Year Award from the Tuckerton Seaport & Baymen’s Museum. Collectors and historians will no doubt find this book useful and informative, and I am honored to have been asked to write this so collectors get to know Jim on a personal basis like I do.

–  Jimmy Allen