Outstanding hollow-bodied mallard pair with glass eyes and detailed bill carving by Walter J. Lowry, Sr., of La Crosse, Wisconsin, circa 1930s. Lowry was a well known and respected banker in La Crosse and across the Midwest. Along with Michael Suhrada of Prairie du Chien, he was one of the most prolific carvers of the Mississippi River Basin, carving over 200 of Wisconsin's finest decoys from the 1920s through the 1940s. This pair, in near-mint original paint showing some yellowing from age, possesses incredibly intricate paint patterns, especially on the hen. The painting on Lowry’s mallard hens is among the best in the country. They are structurally excellent with no splitting , cracking or seam separation. Each decoy measures 16" in length, stands 6" high at the head and is 5-1/2" wide. SOLD
Very nice solid-bodied pintail drake by an unknown Michigan carver, circa 2nd quarter, 20th century. Carved with a flat bottom and straight sides, the decoy has a well formed and distinctive head with glass eyes and a nicely tapered tail. The neck seat is partially routed into the body so that the back of the neck is inset 1/2" - 3/4" while the front of the neck is flush with the top of the body. The decoy is in original paint and structurally sound except for some flaking of the neck filler. The head remains firmly attached, however. There is part of a sticker on the bottom of the decoy that I assume identified a possible carver. The first three letters of the name are "Rue". It looks like the fourth letter might have been a "P" or a "T". Based on the size of the tag that remains, I'm guessing the rest of the name had 3 to 5 more letters. I haven't been able to find any published information on a carver whose last name starts "Rue", so it could be a misspelling of a name such as "Rupert" or "Reuters". The decoy measures 17-1/2" in length, 6-1/2" in width and is 7-1/2" tall. SOLD
Decorative spotted sandpiper by Leo H. McIntosh, Jr. (1953 - 2007), Stony Creek Decoys, Woodville, New York, dated 1986. Recognized as one of the best contemporary decoy carvers before his untimely death, Leo apprenticed with Ken Harris for five years before founding Stony Creek Decoys. The carving is in excellent original feather paint with very slight wear on the wing tips and some extremely tiny flecks of primer showing through on some high points of the body. It has incised and raised primaries and deeply carved shoulders and wing edges. The sandpiper measures 7" in length. The included base reads, "Leo McIntosh, '86". SOLD
Decorative red knot by Leo H. McIntosh, Jr. (1953 - 2007), Stony Creek Decoys, Woodville, New York, dated 1987. Recognized as one of the best contemporary decoy carvers before his untimely death, Leo apprenticed with Ken Harris for five years before founding Stony Creek Decoys. The shorebird is carved in a sleeping pose that you don't often see from Leo. It measures just over 5-1/2" from breast to tail and is in near-mint feather paint. It has "sleepy eyes" and incised and slightly raised primaries with deeply carved shoulders and wing edges. The included base reads, "Stony Creek Decoy Co., carvings by Leo H. McIntosh, Jr., Woodville, N.Y., '87". Stand included. SOLD
Excellent pair of miniature bobwhite quail by George Wilmer Reinbold (1885-1946), Lansdowne, Pennsylvania, circa 1940. Both the carvings and the original paint are expertly detailed and beautifully accomplished with the latter exhibiting a nice patina. Both quail have detailed wing carving including raised wing tips. The male is unusual in that it has an open beak as if calling. The burl upon which the male is mounted is signed "W. Reinbold". Each quail measures just over 2" bill to tail. The beveled walnut base is 4" in diameter, 1/4" thick and covered with red felt on the underside. Wilmer’s work was represented in the most popular outdoor outfitters, wildlife-themed gift shops and galleries of the day, notably Richard Stockton’s Shop in Bryn Mawr, PA, Caldwell's in Philadelphia and Crossroads of Sport and Abercrombie & Fitch in New York City. His work is highly regarded and much sought after today. Wilmer was the father of noted carver Bill Reinbold of Chestertown, Maryland.
Rare solid-bodied decoy with marble eyes by Frank Buchner (1871 - 1947), Erie, Pennsylvania, circa 1890s. Buchner is the "father" of the Erie school and is recognized as the most prolific and talented carver from the area. It is estimated that he carved between 300 and 500 decoys in a career that spanned nearly 50 years from the 1890s to 1940. Buchner was Chief Engineer of the Erie Sand and Gravel Sand Sucker, a barge-mounted dredging machine that cleared channels for navigation into the bay. His use of artistically inscribed patterns to delineate anatomical areas such as wings, speculums and tails attests to his German-American heritage. One such pattern identifies this decoy as being one of Buchner's oldest carvings from what was called his "heart rig". Jon Deeter and Gene Kangas wrote in Decoy Magazine in Nov/Dec 2008, pages 24 - 29, "It seems logical that the dynamic simplicity of this heart design originated close to the beginning of his carving career, and it's assumed they were made in the 1890s". As that rig was reportedly made up only of bluebills, this decoy in old working paint was repainted by the hunter as a redhead drake. Remnants of the original paint, probably that of a bluebill drake, can be seen where the ballast weight was removed. While the body is sound structurally, there is a crack through the neck. Buchner's decoys earned their reputation among hunters because they worked. Their strong folk art appeal assures their standing among collectors.
Life-size hollow swimming mallard drake decoy by Rick Brown, Brick Township, New Jersey, circa late 1980s. Rick was the founder and owner of Barnegat Bay Decoys which he started on the old Wildfowler Decoy Company site in the 1970s. Though the company closed its doors more than two decades ago, Rick continues to hand carve the competition quality decoys that have earned him hundreds of ribbons for more than a quarter of a century. His decoys are highly collectible and very much sought after. This decoy, done in the "Head of the Bay" style of Taylor Johnson and John Dorsett, is hand carved from air-dried Jersey white cedar with an outstretched head and neck, hollow body, high quality glass eyes and lead pad weight with leather line tie. In mint original condition, the detailed feather paint is in a word, "superb". The decoy is signed "Frederick C. Brown, Jr." on the bottom. It measures approximately 17.25" in length, 5" in width and 6.25" in height. SOLD
Classic wood pigeon decoy from the famous gunsmith firm of Trulock & Harriss, Suffolk, England, circa 1880s. Their decoys are considered to be the premier examples of English wood pigeons known. This example is finely crafted with detailed shoulder, wing and tail carving, glass eyes and its original molded lead bill. The softly-blended paint is strong and original with an excellent patina. The decoy exhibits overall feather carving with the breast and throat feathers carved in a fine scallop pattern, deeply carved edging on the wing coverts and a rasped or linearly carved texture to the primaries and fluted tail. The head is carved in an unusually animated and down-peering position as if the bird were examining something on the ground below. Even the eyes of the decoy are set in appropriate positions for this posture. The underside of the tail retains a portion of an original woven textile covering that is seen on a number of, but not all of, the Trulock and Harriss decoys. It is believed that this covering was meant to add strength to the rather fragile tail. There are small slivers missing from the outer edges of the tail feathers on both side and a chip missing from the body of the bird around one of the stick holes. Otherwise the structural condition of the carving is exceptional. Although who carved these decoys for Trulock and Harriss is not known, a strong argument can be made that the birds were made by the same craftsmen tasked with making the gunstocks for the gunsmith's primary product, perhaps on a seasonal basis or as a filler during slack periods. See my other website, www.woodpigeondecoys.com, dedicated to the identification and documentation of these decoys and their carvers for additional information.