Contact Information:

Chad Tragakis, President

      Potomac Decoy Collectors Association

Our History

 PDCA: A brief history

On the evening of May 7, 1997, a group of local decoy collectors and carvers gathered together at the Centreville, Virginia Regional Library and formed the Northern Virginia Decoy Collectors Club. Present were founder Tom East, co-founders Tuck Brant, Ralph Campbell and Sam Huffer, and founding members Chad Tragakis, Dave Fannon, Barry Serafin, Larry Myers, Adrian Edwards, Jim McMurrer and Bill Miles. Some of those present were just getting started in the hobby while others had already been collecting for several decades. At the first meeting the name of the club was discussed and quickly changed to its current name, the Potomac Decoy Collectors Association. This name more aptly described the geographic area that constitutes the base of our membership (Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.) as well as pays homage to our beloved Potomac River and its rich heritage. Also at the first meeting, Tom East, who had organized the gathering and recruited most of the initial participants, was unanimously elected as the first president of the association.

During the monthly meetings that soon followed, the membership adopted a meeting format that we continue to this day. PDCA meets on the third Tuesday of every month except for July, August and December. Our second meeting was held at the Elks Club lodge in Fairfax, Virginia, followed by a meeting at the Main Street USA restaurant in Annandale, Virginia. The club met in the back room of this establishment for many years until it closed. We then moved to the Red River Roadhouse in Springfield, Virginia for about a year, and then just down the road to our present meeting location, Paradiso Restaurant on Franconia Road near Alexandria. 

It was further decided that the club would foster discussion and advance decoy scholarship at our meetings by displaying decoys from members’ collections in the form of a monthly competition. Before each meeting, a different theme would be selected (e.g., mallard decoys, branded decoys, high-head decoys, etc.) and members would bring, compare and discuss decoys that met the thematic criteria. Additionally, a separate category for any old decoy made before 1950 was also established. A third category for “contemporary decoys” was added later as the association grew in membership and interests. As a meeting standard, the owner of each decoy is given an opportunity to “show and tell” about the decoy’s construction, origins, and provenance to the extent known, after which the members present vote on each decoy in the three categories. The winners are recorded and each assigned a numerical value based on placement in the competition.  At the end of each year, the points are tallied and the first place winners in each category receive a plaque.

Membership of the Potomac Decoy Collectors Association was and is open to anyone with an interest in decoys.  The friendly show and tell at our meetings has been a valuable tool for the new or less experienced collector to learn from many longtime collectors. 

From our earliest days, we have published a newsletter, The Potomac Flyer, which keeps our members informed of happenings in the decoy world to include future events and news from around the nation. This newsletter has been received by members in Alaska and Afghanistan; from Florida to Oregon and from Maine to California. Its articles have been requested by non-members and members of other decoy related associations and has helped us gain a congenial relationship with other like-minded groups such as the East Coast Decoy Collectors Association and the New Jersey Decoy Collectors Association.

We have established close ties with several museums including the Havre de Grace Decoy Museum, the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art in Salisbury, Maryland, and the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum at St. Michaels, Maryland. We actively support these and other institutions with monetary donations and our members often lend them decoys to be displayed to the public.

Each member of our association is dedicated to preserving the decoys of past carvers, to accurately record their history and to honor their creators. We also appreciate and collect the beautiful works that carvers and artists produce today. In this regard, we are guardians of the traditions of waterfowl carving of days now long ago and a catalyst for their continuation. 

As we have grown to well over 100 members, our membership rolls contain the names of several nationally respected writers, renowned authors, publishers of national magazines, wildlife artists, owners of decoy related businesses, auction companies, outstanding carvers and collectors and perhaps most importantly, the many people who have become great friends to one another, but decoy enthusiasts all.

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