D0878: Exceptional Early Wood Pigeon Decoy, Yorkshire, UK

Exceptional and rare wood pigeon decoy by an unknown maker, Yorkshire, UK, circa 1900. Solid-bodied decoy with glass eyes and a cast metal bill. The paint is artfully accomplished and has achieved a superb patina. There are several tight cracks around the neck, but thet are quite stable and do not detract from the overall appearance of the decoy (See 5th and 6th photos below). There is also an excellent professional repair to the left edge of the tail (see 7th photo below). The decoy measures 13" in length. The Yorkshire area produced some of the finest early wood pigeon decoys extant with this being a superb example. Known makers include Robert Lange, Mr. Wilson and Robert Sainz. The works of two unidentified makers can also be recognized, including the maker of this decoy. I’ve seen fewer than a half dozen examples by this maker and believe his work to be among the rarest of the Yorkshire school. Stand not included. SALE PENDING

Price: $1395.00

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D0876: Mechanical English Wood Pigeon Decoy, Circa 1930s

Rare flying mechanical English wood pigeon decoy by an unknown maker, circa 1930s. I am aware of only one other early mechanical decoy, called a Bendecoy, that was somewhat similar but battery-powered. It was patented in 1932, roughly around the same time this one was made. This decoy consists of a wooden frame body (top and bottom plates) with extendable wooden wings and a rather ingenious operating mechanism sandwiched between the body halves. The shaped top plate of the decoy was covered with canvas and painted to reduce the glare sometimes seen with only a painted wood surface. A roughly carved wooden head with painted eyes was attached separately. The decoy was operated in the field by means of a spring-loaded lever extending from then rear of the decoy to which a string would be attached. By pulling on the string, the hunter could make the wings extend and retract, adding a realistic motion to his decoy rig. As the force applied to the string necessary to achieve the flapping action would necessarily be relatively firm, I suspect the rather substantial steel post attached to the bottom of the decoy was meant to be set into a hole drilled into the top of a fence post or other firmly affixed supporting base. The decoy is larger than most, measuring 17” in length and 5 1/2” across the back. It is in original paint with some soiling and wear to the canvas, particularly at the end of the tail and at the lower edges of the top plate.

Price: $745.00

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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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