D0725: Harry Pember Black Duck Decoy With Mussel in Bill

Outstanding black duck decoy with a mussel clasped in its bill by Harry Pember of Milford, Connecticut, circa early 3rd quarter of the 20th century. Harry hunted with old friends, including Tom Marshall, the Disbrow brothers and Keith Mueller, using decoys he carved for his own use, including this fine working bird. Made from 3 layers of dense cork with an inset wooden tail, the decoy remains in near-mint condition. In addition to the mussel, it has very detailed bill and mouth carving, glass eyes and scratch-feather paint on the head, which is turned about 20 degrees to the right. The bird measures roughly 17" in length, 9" in height, including the keel, and is 8" wide.

Price: $675.00

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D0212: Warren Dettman Mallard Drake Decoy

Hollow-carved mallard drake decoy with raised split wingtips, detailed bill carving, an applied bottom board, glass eyes and near-mint original paint. It measures 16" in length, 7" in width and is almost 8" high at the head. The decoy is attributed to Warren Dettman of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, circa 1935, by most auction catalogs, but that attribution is questioned by some. "Whistling Wings, Whittled Ducks and Wetlands", a publication of the Milwaukee Public Museum (MPM), states, "Judging from an apparently early pair of mallards still in the family, Dettman first tried making bodies by hollowing a large block of wood from underneath, then covering the opening with a board. Perhaps dissatisfied with the technique, or unable to get large blocks of wood, Dettman turned to producing bodies from laminated pine boards, cutting out the centers of the middle ones before gluing all together", as detailed in the publication referenced above. This decoy is constructed in the earlier style. It is definitely from the Milwaukee Public Museum (MPM) "school". Dettman was a taxidermist at MPM and taught others, particularly WPA workers hired by the museum, to carve decoys. There is a possibility that these decoys were carved by one of those students. Deltacraft Plan No. 4642, Duck Decoys, shows a plan to make this decoy, including a photo of a near identical example on its cover. Deltacraft was part of Delta Manufacturing Co., Milwaukee. The plan shows that it was drawn by "E.H." and designed by Ed Hamilton. No Milwaukee collector I've spoken to seems to know the name. Whoever developed the design in that plan, not a later carver using the plan, made this decoy. See Items M053 and D0720 in the “Sold" section of this website for a Deltacraft pattern that was developed from these decoys as well as mallard hen by the same carver. This drake and the Deltacraft plan are pictured on page 137 of "Collecting Antique Bird Decoys and Duck Calls" by Luckey and Lewis.

Price: $3250.00

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D0721: Fred Allen Bluebill Drake Decoy

A well-proportioned and rare hollow-bodied bluebill drake attributed to Fred Allen (1838 - 1912), Monmouth, Illinois, circa 4th quarter of the 19th century. The decoy is in original paint with good patina and combed paint on the back, showing moderate flaking and wear. These decoys are fitted with a gasket to prevent leakage at the body seam. Measuring approximately 12" in length, 6" in width and 6.5" in height, it is structurally excellent with no cracks or breaks and a tight body seam. The left eye is cracked but intact. The decoy's lead weight has notches, perhaps purposeful, on each end, two on one and five on the other, designating the number "25" perhaps. The bird was formerly in the collection of Joe French, with his collection number (152) on the bottom. Information from Joe French's written records, as provided by Joe Tonelli, show that French purchased this decoy on 6/24/55 from Frank Eckard of Putnam, IL. Eckard was caretaker for the big Sanachine Gun Club. Controversy surrounds the identification of the carver of these fine birds. A solid majority of them were originally found in southwest Minnesota, leading many to speculate that they are the work of either John Tax or john Tax, Sr. Where the identification of Allen as the carver originated is unknown; however, no mention of him having made or sold decoys can be found in any of the printed ads for his products. Allen, a frequent advertiser in sporting publications in the late 1800s, was perhaps best known for his patented bow-facing oars and duck calls. His work, some of the earliest documented from the Illinois River region, is chronicled in numerous decoy books and publications, including Decoys and Decoy Carvers of Illinois by Parmalee and Loomis.

Price: $2995.00

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D0639: Herter's Black Duck Decoy

Model #963CM Perfect hollow-carved black duck decoy by Herter's, Waseca, MN, circa 1939. Made of cedar, this decoy was one of the earliest in the line. It was made for Herter's by Artistic Woodcarving of Chicago. Only 20 dozen (these decoys are quite rare) black ducks and mallard pairs were made, as the bottom boards tended to separate from the body and leak. The decoy, measuring nearly 14" in length, is heavily carved and in original paint showing moderate wear. A black sealant was applied in-use at the seam between the body and bottom board and on the bottom of the decoy to prevent leakage.

Price: $395.00

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