Shang Wheeler was a man of diverse interests and talents who served as a Connecticut state senator, managed the Connecticut Oyster Farms in Milford, and was an avid outdoorsman. His decoys drew upon older traditions established by Stratford carvers Albert Davids Laing and Benjamin Holmes, such as hollow two-piece bodies with prominent chests. Wheeler made both working decoys and show birds in wood and cork. This canvasback, one of a pair made as working decoys rather than for competition, is also fashioned from cork, which provided a buoyant, lightweight body.
Stacy C. Hollander, "Canvasback Drake," in American Anthem: Masterworks from the American Folk Art Museum (New York: Harry N. Abrams in association with American Folk Art Museum, 2001), 366.