D0879: Superb 19th Century English Wood Pigeon Decoy

This is the first decoy by this maker that I’ve seen. It’s quite old, perhaps the oldest I’ve been able to document. My best guess is circa 1875. Because the style is so different from anything I’ve seen, I’m presently unable to name a probable area of origin, other than the United Kingdom. Measuring 14” in length and 4” across the shoulders, it is quite sculptural with a high head and an upsloped tail spliced (last photo) into a full and well conformed body. The wing tips are raised and deeply incised while the shoulders are softly carved. Other than for touch up at the professionally replaced bill, the decoy is in original paint with a very light but pleasing craquelure texture in some areas. The red-orange eyes are old and unusual taxidermy eyes. Stand not included.

Price: $1725.00

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D0874: Pair of BURBO Wood Pigeon Decoys, Circa 2Q, 20C

Set of two paper mache wood pigeons, circa early 1st quarter, 20th century. While these decoys are unmarked, another example exists that is known to be marked "BURBO", as sold by West and Son, Gunsmiths, Retford, UK. That partnership was dissolved in 1908. There are also unmarked cast metal examples of these decoys known. I suspect that the cast metal examples may have proven to be too expensive to manufacture, resulting in those decoys being used as forms from which the paper mache models were later made. I’ve seen several paper mache examples in the past, but none as nice as these. Rigors of weather and the hunt took there toll on many of these more fragile decoys. In original paint, there is flaking to the primer on the glass-eyed bodies and heads. While the bodies were made entirely of heavy paper, soaked in an adherent and laid over the cast metal forms, the heads appear to consist of small doweled wooden forms, left in place and overlaid with paper mache finishes as well. There is light shot scarring on both birds, attesting to their field use. These are large decoys, measuring 15” in length and 6” in width. Meant to be set directly on the ground, they also measure 6” from the hollow bottoms to the crowns of the heads. As can be seen photos, the heads can be rotated to any position, giving a more realistic appearance to the spread of decoys.

Price: $465.00

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D0861: Unknown Wood Pigeon Decoy, Cheshire, UK, Circa 1920-1930

Very nice wood pigeon decoy by an unknown English carver, circa 1920s - 1930s. Hunted on a farm in Cheshire, UK, it is likely from that area. The decoy is in very good original condition with glass eyes and carved raised wings. A rigmate to D0862, this is a big, broad-backed decoy measuring almost 5 1/4" across the shoulders and 14 3/4" in length. The decoy is in excellent structural condition with no age splits or other damage. Hand-whittled with knife marks visible, variations in size and structure between this decoy and its rigmate lead me to believe that they were carved by a hunter for his personal use rather than by a commercial maker. The last photo shows this decoy along with its rigmate, available separately. The two exhibit an individuality not always seen in their commercially produced counterparts, a sort of “swagger”, if you will! Stand not included.

Price: $550.00

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D0862: Early Unknown Cheshire English Wood Pigeon

Very nice wood pigeon decoy by an unknown English carver, circa 1920s - 1930s. Hunted on a farm in Cheshire, UK, it is likely from that area. The decoy is in very good original condition with glass eyes and carved raised wings. A gouge was used on the underside to partially hollow out the decoy, presumably to make it lighter so it would move in the wind when mounted on a stake. A big, broad-backed decoy, it measures 5 " across the shoulders and 13 1/2" in length. There is a tight age split running from the bird's crown to the back (see third photo). Hand-whittled with knife marks visible, variations in size and structure between this decoy and its rigmate, D0861, lead me to believe that they were carved by a hunter for his personal use rather than by a commercial maker. The last photo shows this decoy along with its rigmate, available separately. The two exhibit an individuality not always seen in their commercially produced counterparts, a sort of “swagger”, if you will! Stand not included.

Price: $550.00

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D0839: Ted Grace Wood Pigeon Decoy, Circa 1951

Excellent solid-bodied English wood pigeon decoy by Edward Arthur "Ted" Grace, Walderslade, Kent, United Kingdom, circa 1951. The bird, painted in fall plumage, is in well-blended and detailed original feather paint with a nice patina and and only minor wear. A very well-formed bird, it has screw eyes set in separate shoe eyelets to simulate eye rings, a cast metal bill and relief carved shoulders. Grace purchased Harry Boddy's decoy business in 1951, worked at it full time until 1957 and continued part time until 1977. He made only minor changes that can make the decoys by the two men difficult to distinguish between. This decoy has a longer neck and more narrow head than did those made by Boddy, but the head and neck are not as long and slender as seen in Grace's later decoys. His decoys were also painted with more finesse and a lighter palette than those by Boddy. The last photo shows a pigeon by Boddy on the left, a later decoy by Grace with the more slender and extended neck and head on the right and this decoy in the center. Grace's more fluid and blended brush work as compared to Boddy's can also be seen in this last photo. It measures 14.5" in length and 4" in width. Please see my other website, www.woodpigeondecoys.com, dedicated to the identification and documentation of these decoys and their carvers as well as my article on the decoys of Harry Boddy and Ted Grace in the Jan/Feb 2107 issue of Hunting and Fishing Collectibles Magazine for additional information. Stand not included.

Price: $495.00

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D0824: Harry Boddy Feeding Wood Pigeon Decoy

Feeding wood pigeon decoy by Harry Boddy, Walderslade, Kent, United Kingdom, circa 1935. The bird, painted in fall plumage, is in original paint with moderate flaking and wear. It has screw eyes set in separate grommets to simulate eye rings, a cast metal beak and relief carved shoulders. The pigeon is hollowed from below with an inset metal plate marked "Pat. 431190" (Issued to Harry Boddy in 1935) to hold the included metal spike for setting the decoy in the ground. There is a clasp at back of tail to secure the spike. The patent number is also ink-stamped on the underside of the tail. The decoy measures 14.5" in length and 4" in width. While many of the feeding decoys by both Boddy and his protegee, Ted Grace, were made from two pieces of wood with a convex lower second piece of wood nailed to the upper concave piece of the body, this decoy is carved from one piece. As the lower piece had the center cut out to form an elongated "horse collar" hollow, I have to believe this method was found to be easier to accomplish than otherwise hand-hollowing the one-piece decoy from below. Under this assumption, the one-piece decoys such as this one have to be considered the earlier examples. In the last photo, the Boddy decoy is in the middle, flanked by a similar yet bulkier unknown decoy on the left and a more slender example by Grace on the right. See my other website, www.woodpigeondecoys.com, dedicated to the identification and documentation of these decoys and their carvers for additional information. Stand included.

Price: $450.00

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D0791: Excellent Wood Pigeon Decoy by Robert Lange, Circa 1900

Excellent English wood pigeon attributed to Robert Lange, Yorkshire, UK, circa 1900. There is a possibility, however, that the decoys attributed to Lange were actually made by an unnamed Scottish carver. Regardless, they were limited in production and some of the finest early decoys the UK has to offer. Stylistically, they are similar to some of the better North American shorebird decoys of the same period, with smoothly carved bodies and a deft brushstroke applied in what has been called a "Spenserian style". This glass-eyed example is in bright breeding plumage with mottled breast, neatly scalloped neck patches and fluid but precisely applied wing markings. The original paint shows light to moderate with some flaking. The decoy measures 13" in length. See my other website, www.woodpigeondecoys.com, dedicated to the identification and documentation of these decoys and their carvers for additional information. Stand included.

Price: $1495.00

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