Classic Delware River black duck decoy by Jess Heisler (1891 - 1943), Burlington City, NJ, circa 1935. Heisler was known as a quality boat builder as well as a first class professional decoy maker whose work approached that of John and Dan English. This decoy has a hollow three-piece body; raised, grooved and deeply notched primaries and a head in a tucked or contented position. It measures just over 15" in length, sits 6-1/2" high at the head and is 5-1/2" wide. The detailed scalloped feather paint shows very little wear other than a scrape on the left cheek and several small dings near the neck seat below that cheek. The decoy is rigged with a leather tie and Heisler's beveled lead pad weight secured by ten brads. It is branded "R. A. Stockon" on the bottom, indicating that it came from the rig of Russell Augustus Stockton of Burlington. His rig is known to have included quality decoys by the Englishes as well as by Heisler. I purchased this bird directly from Stockton's granddaughter. SOLD
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
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
Wood pigeon decoy by Harry Earnest Boddy, Chatham, 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
Very rare hollow English wood pigeon decoy made for the gunsmith firm of H. Trulock & Harriss, London, U.K., circa 1912. Made from a cast and chased aluminum alloy, it was patterned after wooden examples made for the famous gunmaker around the turn of the 20th century. The wooden versions are felt by many collectors to be the best examples of English wood pigeon extant. This decoy is in excellent original paint, portraying the bird's breeding plumage. It was made in three pieces; an upper body, a lower body and a spring-mounted head. The interiors of the upper and lower body halves of this decoy are each marked in pencil with Roman numeral ones (I), presumably to match up the proper halves so the painted plumage patterns would match. It is possible that the number one indicates this particular example was in fact the first decoy bird made in this pattern by the company. An integral wire stake is attached, designed along with the "bobble-head"to add motion to a set of birds. Cast true to the form of the wooden examples, these decoys have strongly emphasized shoulders and detailed primary and tail feathers. This particular decoy appears to be an early example of what was called the Tru-Iss decoy. It has impressed metal eyes and the wording "PATENT APPLIED". Later Tru-Iss examples had glass eyes, were marked "HARRISS'S PATENT No. 21550". The later version also showed an address of "PICKERING PLACE, ST. JAMES STREET, LONDON". While i cannot make out the address on this earlier example, it was not Pickering Place. The paint on later examples was an overall charcoal grey with a light rose tone to the breast. This pigeon measures 13 1/2" in length, 5" across at the shoulders and roughly 4" in depth, exclusive of the head. SOLD
Feeding wood pigeon decoy by Harry Earnest Boddy, Chatham, Kent, United Kingdom, circa 1935. The bird, painted in fall plumage, is in worn original paint with a very fine patina. It has screw eyes set in separate grommets to simulate eye rings, a cast metal beak and relief carved shoulders. It has been lightly hit with shot. The pigeon is hollowed from below with an inset metal plate marked "Pat. 431190" (Issued to Boddy in 1935) to hold a spike (missing} for setting the decoy in the ground. There is a clasp at back of tail to secure the folded spike. According to the patent documents, "...under the action of wind, it (the designed means of attachment) simulates the action of a feeding bird". The hollowed portion of the body in these decoys is made from a second piece of wood, nailed to the of the upper body. This second piece is curved on top to fit a corresponding concave curve in the upper piece. The decoy measures 14" in length and 4" in width. 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
Very nice matched rigmate pair of bluebills by John Roth (1885-1948), Oshkosh, Wisconsin, circa 1920s. Both decoys have high "cheeky" heads with glass eyes, painted nostrils, deeply carved mandibles and a bold, stylized paint pattern. Both are in original paint with stippled feathering on the backs. The drake has a few shot scars and an age split running down the back from the breast while the hen has an age split on the right side. They are otherwise in excellent structural condition with the heads firmly seated. Neither decoy has any repairs. Roth is recognized as one of Wisconsin's better early carvers and is featured in Ron Koch's book, "Decoys of the Winnebago Lakes".
Very nice hollow-bodied Canada goose with painted tack eyes and inlet lead weight by Mark Kears, Linwood, NJ, circa 1920s. The decoy is in excellent dry original paint showing minor wear, a nice patina and light crazing. It is protected by an old, possibly original, coat of varnish. Other than a slight separation at the body seam, the bird is in excellent structural condition with no cracks or repairs. It measures 24" in length, 8" in width and stands 11-1/2" high at the head. He was a mentor and neighbor of Gene Hendrickson, but Kear's decoys are earlier and much more difficult to find in original paint. SOLD