Vineyard Haven couple winnows decoy collection
Photo by Michelle Gross
On a blissfully warm and breezy August afternoon, the backyard of Meghan and George "Doc" Brown's Vineyard Haven house was scattered with ephemera, a lifetime in the making. "We have always been avid antique collectors," Meghan said as she sipped a freshly made glass of orange juice and club soda.
The couple, who also have a house in the village of Aubas in the Bordeaux region of France, said their love for collecting antiques and vintage pieces grew after their honeymoon in France more than 15 years ago.
"Whenever we travel, especially when we see a sign that say's antiques, we just pull over," Doc said.
Every nook and cranny in the couple's house is chock-full of collectibles and pieces from their past. A testament to their creative style and knack for finding good deals, in addition to a well-curated collection of vintage furniture, majolica plates, and porcelain staffordshire dogs, the Browns' largest (and arguably cutest) collection of 52 duck decoys began more by accident than design, the couple said.
"I saw two of them at an auction about ten years ago, and I just thought they were cute," Doc explained. "After that, my patients would start giving them to me as gifts, and it grew from there."
Before moving to the Vineyard in 2011, Meghan and Doc lived in the mountains of Waynesville, a small town in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains region. Born and raised in Waynesville, Doc, a celebrated general practitioner and former Navy doctor, recalled fond memories of his life in North Carolina.
"Sometimes I miss things. I miss my patients," Doc said.
Doc and Meghan met in 1997 and married a year later. Meghan was working with patients with substance abuse issues when she applied to work in the hospital where Doc was practicing. "I married an overqualified therapist," Doc said.
These days, along with attending to their seven-year-old whippet, Sophie, the couple spends time reading books and visiting with family. Doc said he enjoys reading American history. Meghan said she enjoys spending time with Doc.
Earlier this summer, in an effort to "get things organized" and make room in their eclectically decorated home, the couple sought the help of Cape based antiquarian and self-proclaimed duck decoy expert, Ed Tessier, who assessed all 52 ducks, one by one.
"I grew up around decoys," Mr. Tessier said. "So when Meghan called me and told me about the ducks, I went over and assessed them, and together we put the tags on them. They had quite a collection."
While the value of the ducks isn't anything to write home about — the most valuable one was worth about $300 — Mr. Tessier said he enjoyed getting to know both the Browns and their ducks.
"They are a great couple with an eye for collecting," Mr. Tessier said. "He's a doctor who's spent his whole life saving things, so he probably saw these ducks, some with chips or scrapes, and thought they needed help."
Doc said he couldn't help but hold on to a few of his favorites.
"There were some I couldn't part with. For the others, the ones that have left, we just want them to go to a good home."
The Browns hosted a yard sale in mid-August and sold a few of the ducks. Mr. Tessier took about 30. The Browns kept the rest.