D0695: Classic Nathan Cobb, Jr., Black Duck Decoy

Exceptional hollow-carved black duck by Nathan Cobb, Jr., Cobb Island, Virginia, with good serifed "N" carved in bottom. Circa 1890. The decoy has an inlet head with fine bulbous neck, glass eyes and typical Cobb's Island wing carving. An eye groove extends from the bill to the back of the head. The bottom board of this hollow carving is pegged to the upper body from below. The bird is in outstanding structural condition with a few tight age lines in body. The paint on the head of the decoy appears to be original while the body has traces of original that has been strengthened. Formerly in the collection of William L. Butler, Jr., this is a highly collectible classic southern decoy with superb form and an impeccable provenance. It is pictured in Plates 407 and 408 on page 197 of Southern Decoys of Virginia and the Carolinas by Henry Fleckenstein, Jr.

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D0146: Os Bibber Oldsquaw Drake Decoy

Superb winter plumage oldsquaw drake decoy in exceptional original paint in a very stylized pattern with a fine patina, by Orlando S. "Os" Bibber (1882 -1971), South Harpswell, Maine, circa 1st quarter, 20th century. The solid-bodied decoy has painted eyes with the head turned approximately 15 degrees to the right. It has a finely carved bill with "dimples" where the bill meets the face. It is in excellent structural condition with a rectangular plug "in-the-making" centered in the back, behind the head. It isn't known whether the plug was inserted to prevent cracking or simply to repair a flaw in the wood. Regardless, this characteristic shows up in other decoys by Bibber, including a similar decoy from Doc Starr's (and later, Dr. Jim McCleery's) collection. Starr described these as "One of the finest quandies (oldsquaw) I have ever seen". Other collectors agree. Bibber's birds are recognized as being among the best, if not the best, from the Maine coast. An engineer by trade, the influence of his training can be seen in the precision execution of his carvings. Delicately carved, they do not have the inlet heads found so often on decoys from the region. This decoy is the best of no more than a half dozen in this style and paint pattern known to exist. SOLD

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M325, Joe Ahearn Pheasant Lamp, Circa 1950

Fine cock pheasant lamp by James Joseph "Joe" Ahearn, Stamford, CT, circa 1950. An excellent effort, this roughly one-half scale carving is an unusually large example of Ahearn's work. The pheasant measures 15" in length (tip of bill to tip of tail) and 8-1/2" in height including the birch log it is perched on. It is in excellent structural condition except for a small, almost unnoticeable, piece missing on the outside of the right thigh. The carving is in excellent original condition with highly detailed feather paint, glass eyes and wire legs with lead feet and is mounted on a two-piece wooden base with birch log. The original lamp hardware and shade are included. Because of the age of the components, it should be rewired before use. Ahearn became well-known in the mid-1940's as a carver of miniatures. It is unclear when he began carving them although it is presumed that he started in the late 1930's, if not sooner. While Joe lived in the New York City area where he was a salesman for the National Cash Register Company he was known to have carved miniatures while on the road. At the onset of World War II, he and his wife moved to Stamford, Connecticut. The first documentation of his carvings being offered for sale is in the 1945-46 catalog of the Sporting Gallery and Bookstore in New York City. This catalog featured a wide selection of Ahearn's "functional hunter" and "sportsman oriented" items such as lamps, wall thermometers, letter openers, coat racks, tie racks, pipe racks, book ends and ashtrays in a variety of configurations. It was around this time that he also began offering his miniature carvings of waterfowl and upland game birds. One of the first and certainly the most important retailer to carry his carvings was the Crossroads of Sport store in New York City. They were enjoying a huge demand for A. J. King's miniatures and were more than eager to complement his products with another carver's work. Ahearn is featured in "Birds in Wood and Paint" by Joe Ellis. In July 2013, Copley Fine Art Auctions sold a flying grouse lamp (Lot 71) with two smaller (6" long) woodcocks for $2530.00.

Price: $725.00

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D0637: Heavily Carved English Wood Pigeon Decoy, Circa Late 1800s

Heavily-carved English wood pigeon decoy, circa late 1800s. The decoy shares characteristics with the early wooden decoys sold by both R. Ward Co. and Trulock and Harriss, but differs enough to open the possibility that it was crafted by another as yet unidentified maker. It is also possible, however, that it is a later example from Ward or an earlier example from Trulock and Harriss. Almost certainly commercially made, the tail is most similar to the Ward decoys while the wings are more similar to the offerings of Trulock and Harriss, yet the head style differs from both. The breast is laminated in a manner similar to that found on a number of examples by Trulock and Harriss. Overall, it is more accomplished than the Wards, but lacks the sculptural finesse of the Trulock and Harriss birds. Full-bodied and measuring about 16-inches in length with raised wing tips, glass eyes and an inset tail, it is one of the largest pigeon decoys I've seen. Other than a professional tail repair with touch up to that area, it is in original paint. Stand not included. SOLD

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D0764: William Jaggard Wood Pigeon Decoy, Circa 2nd Q, 20th C.

Excellent wood pigeon decoy by William Jaggard of Elveden, Suffolk, United Kingdom, circa late 2nd quarter, 20th century. In original paint with very minor wear, this stylish pigeon has carved shoulders and wings, a cast metal bill, glass eyes and a pleasing patina. Painted in the species' fall plumage, the full-bodied carving measures just under 14" in length, 3.75" in width and 3" in depth at the breast. Jaggard, who carved from the late 1930s through the mid-1950s, continued the carving business of his father-in-law and mentor, James Rolph. Judging from the number of examples found today, he, along with Rolph and Harry Boddy, was one of England's most prolific makers. English wood pigeons have garnered the well-deserved attention of American collectors. Similar in time frame to North American waterfowl and shorebird decoys, they have been used in the United Kingdom since the latter part of the 1800s with examples ranging from the deeply carved examples sold by Trulock and Harriss and R. Ward Co. to the more stylized examples of Jaggard, Boddy and Robert Lange. See my other website, www.woodpigeondecoys.com, dedicated to the identification and documentation of these decoys and their carvers for additional information.

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D0775: James Rolph Wood Pigeon Decoy, Circa 1915 - 1920

English wood pigeon decoy attributed to James Rolph of Elveden, Suffolk, United Kingdom, circa 1915 - 1920. Rolph carved from roughly 1910 until the 1930s. Like all of his early decoys, the body is somewhat rectangular in cross section, reflecting the exclusive use of hand tools in the making of his decoys. Shortly after the end of WWI, Rolph acquired a bandsaw for cutting out the rough decoy, resulting in a more rounded body, sometimes with raised wingtips. Lightly used with a pleasing patina, this fat-bodied bird measures 14.5-inches in length with glass eyes and deeply incised shoulder and wing outlines. The original paint depicting the species' fall plumage is strong, well-patinated and original except at the bill which is an excellent professional replacement. Rolph was the son of Francis Rolph, himself a decoy maker, and father-in-law of William Jaggard who joined the family business in the early 1930s. One of James's decoys, unidentified as to maker, can be found in the Guyette/Sotheby catalog of Dr. Jim McCleery's collection (Lot 559, Jan 2000). See my other website, www.woodpigeondecoys.com, dedicated to the identification and documentation of these decoys and their carvers for additional information. SOLD

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D0776: Gradewell Last Co., Ltd., Wood Pigeon Decoy

Rare and excellent solid-bodied English wood pigeon decoy by The Gradewell Last Co., Ltd., of Leicester, England, circa 1930s. This is one of only two by this maker that I have seen, but I have heard of a pair being given as an award at a pigeon shoot in Leicester where they were made in the mid-1930s. Gradewell, a maker of wooden shoe lasts, was incorporated in 1912 and dissolved around 2004. The duplicating equipment used by the company for making shoe lasts made the manufacture of decoys a natural fit, but it is unknown whether this decoy was part of a special order, a regular product offering or a product made as a filler only during slow periods. Regardless, it is a high quality decoy that is heavier than most pigeon decoys, probably due to the use of the same hardwoods such as maple, hornbeam and beech that the company used in last production. These hardwoods were chosen because they were free of knots, cut cleanly with no fraying and were unlikely to split. This resulting decoy is well formed with crisply incised wings and shoulders and is smoothly finished with no blemishes to the wood. The paint on the 14-inch long bird is skillfully applied in the breeding plumage and has achieved a fine patina. It has white glass eyes and an inset wooden bill, all of which are original to the decoy. The paint at the juncture of the bill and face is cracked around the perimeter of the bill which is nonetheless securely set and undamaged. Embossed on the bottom of the decoy is "Gradewell Last Co. Ltd, Leicester, Eng". See my other website, www.woodpigeondecoys.com, dedicated to the identification and documentation of these decoys and their carvers for additional information. SOLD

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D0773: Harry Boddy Wood Pigeon Decoy

Wood pigeon decoy by Harry Earnest Boddy, Walderslade, Kent, United Kingdom, circa 1935. The bird, painted in fall plumage, is in lightly worn original paint with a very fine patina and has been hit with shot. As with all of Boddy's birds, it has screw eyes set in separate grommets to simulate eye rings, a cast metal beak and relief carved shoulders. The decoy measures 13-1/2" in length and 4" in width. Boddy was probably the most prolific of the English carvers, enjoying a career that probably began in the early 1930s and ran approximately until WWII. Overall, the paint on his decoys was the most artfully accomplished of the commercially produced wood pigeon decoys, with flowing brush strokes, subtle shading and elaborate wet-on-wet blending. The name of W. R. Grace of Kent also comes up in connection with these wood pigeons. One scenario has Kent purchasing Boddy's business in the 1940s, continuing it with only one change; the decoy necks and heads became narrower and more tapered (See last photo). This decoy is of the older and larger style pictured on the right of the photo. Another possibility is that Grace was involved much earlier, perhaps even from the start, either as a partner or as the principal with Boddy being only the patentee of the mounting system. Stand not included. SOLD

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