M361: Miniature North Carolina Preening Decoy, Circa 2Q, 20C

Rare miniature preening or sleeping duck decoy carving by Charles Caswell "Charlie Mac" McWilliams (1892-1972) of Ocracoke, NC, circa 2nd Q, 20th C. He was a guide at the legendary Green Island Hunting Club before it burned to the ground in 1933. in 1921, the schooner Carroll A. Deering ran aground off Cape Hatteras with all crew members apparently lost. "Charlie Mac" was rumored to have used wood from the shipwreck in making his decoys. Because this cedar example was left unpainted, it is difficult to tell what species it represents; however, as the hunt club was noted for its redheads, Canada geese and brant, I am guessing this miniature may be a redhead. Roughly half scale, it measures 9 1/2" from tail tip to breast and has carved wing outlines. It is signed "C. C. McWilliams, Ocracoke, N. C." on the bottom. McWilliams later was a well known local figure, serving as the mailman in Ocracoke for many years. SOLD

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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

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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. SALE PENDING

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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" length and 6" width. Meant to be set directly on the ground, they also measure 6" m 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.

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D0873: Francis Rolph Wood Pigeon Decoy, Circa Early 1Q, 20C

Excellent English wood pigeon decoy attributed to Francis Rolph of Lakenheath, Suffolk, United Kingdom, circa 1900 - 1910. He was the area's largest dealer in all manner of birds and game. After inquiries from customers, he began making decoys as early as 1880, concentrating on pigeon decoys. The body is somewhat rectangular in cross section, reflecting the exclusive use of hand tools in the making of his decoys. Perhaps the nicest example I've seen by this carver, it is lightly used with a pleasing patina. A stylish carving with a separately carved head and glass eyes, it measures 12.75" in length, 3" in width and is almost 4" in depth at the breast. The decoy is somewhat shorter in length than most of Rolph's birds and has a smoothly carved body, lacking the carved wing edges and shoulders normally found on his work, yet it has a noticeably fuller breast. Except for touch-up to and around the bill, which is an excellent and accurate professional replacement, the decoy is in strong original paint depicting the species' fall plumage. Francis was the father of James Rolph, himself a decoy maker, and father-in-law of William Jaggard, another carver, who joined the family business in the early 1930s. James Rolph's decoys are quite similar to those of his father except that the heads are carved as part of the body rather than separately. Stand included. SOLD

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D0871: George Harvey Jersey Coast Scaup Drake Decoy, Circa 1900

Rare early (circa 1900) Jersey Coast hollow-bodied glass-eyed scaup drake in a mixture of original paint, working overpaint and a protective clear coat by George Harvey of Rumson, New Jersey. "Geo. Harvey, Rumson, N.J., 1900" is inscribed on the bottom in black ink along with a museum's inventory number and rubber stamp (a large capital "C", encircling the "M" of "Museum" and an illegible word). The decoy measures 14" in length and 6" in height, There is a 4" x 2" oblong lead pad weight nailed to the bottom. The bill has a tight crack but is stable. SOLD

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D0869: Rare Split-Tail John Dilley Golden Plover, Circa 4Q, 19C

Outstanding glass-eyed golden plover by John Dilley, Quogue, Long Island, New York, circa 4th quarter 19th century. A rare split-tailed model in winter plumage by this maker who is universally acclaimed as one of the top shorebird makers of all time. The decoy has slight wear and has been lightly hit by shot but is in original condition with strong detailed feather paint. It measures 10.5" from tip of tail to tip of bill. Signed "Dilley" on the underside of the tail. "Capt. Jess Birdsall, Barnegat, 1890, Golden Plover" is inscribed in black ink on the bottom. This was the identification first made of these decoys in the early 1940s as documented by Mackey on page 124 of American Bird Decoys.

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D0868: Early Gene Hendrickson Broadbill Drake, Circa 1930

Early-style, circa 1930, hollow-bodied tack-eyed broadbill drake in original paint by Joseph Eugene "Gene" Hendrickson (1896-1971), Northfield, New Jersey. This decoy was Guyette & Schmidt's lot #128 in their July 2000 auction. According to the catalogue it was purchased by D.R. Gascoyne from Smith's Tavern in 1938. Written on bottom: "From Smith's Tavern, Rt. 9, Absecon, N.J., Dec. 7, 1938. Probably Tuckerton group of decoy makers. Barnegat Bay, N. J., hollow cedar hen (sic), greater scaup-broadbill". Measuring 14" in length and 7.5" in height, it is in strong original paint, protected by a thin coat of varnish. The decoy is flat-backed with a deep, smooth dip to a low tail and has carved nostrils and mandible separations. There is poured inletted weight in the bottom. SOLD

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