M375: A. J. Ditman Miniature Widgeon Drake, Circa 1940s

Miniature carving of a widgeon drake by Albert Joseph Ditman (1884-1974), circa late 1940s. The 4 1/2" long carving is in near-mint original condition. It bears Ditman's paper label on the bottom along with the monogram "AJD" over an "M" on the base. The "M" signifies that the carving was done while Ditman lived in Williamsown, Massachusetts. Earlier carvings were done in New York City while he worked for Mobil Oil. Ditman carved his folky miniatures, usually mounted on a chip-carved "rock" base, through sportsmen's stores in New York City such as Abercrombie & Fitch for a period of some 20 years beginning in 1939. SOLD

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M373: A. J. Ditman Miniature Cock Pheasant, Circa 1940s

Excellent miniature carving of a cock ring-necked pheasant by Albert Joseph Ditman (1884-1974), circa early to mid-1940s. The 6 3/4" long carving is in highly detailed original condition other than a professional repair to a clean break in the neck (See last 4 photos for close ups of the repaired area). It also has a flake of paint missing on the right side of the tail. The base bears his early monogrammed capital “D” with the “A” and “J” inside, indicating it was made while Ditman lived in New York City while working for Mobil Oil. Later carvings were made in Williamsown, Massachusetts, after Ditman's retirement from Mobil in 1947. These were monogrammed "AJD" with an "M" (for Massachusetts) below. Ditman carved his folky miniatures, usually mounted on a chip-carved "rock" base, through sportsmen's stores in New York City such as Abercrombie & Fitch for a period of some 20 years beginning in 1939. SOLD

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D0933: Ora Clough Mallard Drake Decoy, Wisconsin, Circa 2Q, 20C

Superb mallard drake decoy by Ora Clough (1895-1979) of Ladysmith, Wisconsin. At an early age, his family moved from Perkinstown where he was born to directly across the street from the Evans decoy factory in Ladysmith. He began working at that factory around 1930 and soon began making his own decoys by hand. Eventually he added a small lathe to his operation. His decoys are easily identified by the 1" cork-filled hole in the breast that helped reduce the weight of his decoys. It is estimated that Clough made 200-300 decoys from about 1935 to 1944 that not surprisingly showed the Evans influence, although he modified the style to his own preference. Included were mallards, black ducks, bluebills, blue-winged teal, canvasbacks and a limited number of Canada geese. Clough continued to make a few decorative decoys until 1975. This glass-eyed decoy, measuring 16" in length, is in detailed original paint with a pleasing patina, including scratch-painted primaries. There is a tight crack in the right side of the neck, but it does not go all the way through. SOLD

Price: $825.00

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D0938: Exceptional Flying Wood Pigeon Decoy, Circa 1Q, 20C

These decoys have been a favorite of mine ever since I saw one on Robert Young Antique’s website about eight years ago. I included a photo of it in my first article on wood pigeons (last 2 photos below). I wrote, “Other hunter-produced examples such as the two pictured in photos #8 & #9 can rival or surpass the best of the commercially produced birds. For the most part, the makers are unknown. Unfortunately, these decoys are quite rare but eagerly sought after by collectors.” With the appearance of this one, I’m leaning away from hunter-produced towards commercially-produced but still very rare. It is now the second one I am aware of. The form of the body reminds me of the decoys of the Rolphs and William Jaggard from the Norfolk area, although I doubt that any of those men made this decoy. The body with its thin, flat tail was rough-cut with a bandsaw, probably circa late 1st Q, 20th C (WW I era). The shoulders were likewise deeply carved and the wing outlines on the back were carved in. The paint pattern also shares many characteristics with the early Norfolk decoys. What take this decoy from the ordinary to the extraordinary is, of course, the attached extended wings along with its stylized paint pattern and wonderful patina. It measures 15” in overall length and is completely original condition. Its only flaw is a tight crack in the left side of the bill. In my opinion, it is one of the very best! Even if commercially produced, we may never see another again. SOLD.

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D0937: Early Yellowlegs Decoy, Circa 1900

Large and impressive greater yellowlegs or willet decoy by an unknown maker, believed to be from New England, possibly Massachusetts, circa late 1800s to early 1900s. The decoy is in original feather paint with stippling, applied over a red lead primer coat that shows through in spots, most noticeably on the top edges of the tail. The wing outlines and wing tips are carved. The bill is original, but was apparently loose and reset as there are traces of epoxy in the joint where the bill meets the face. Measuring 13 1/2" in length, it has painted eyes with "new moon" catchlights under the pupils. Stand included. SOLD

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D0930: Rarest Herter's Decoy, Model Perfect Dove, 1940s

The Holy Grail for collectors of Herter's decoys! Herter's Model Perfect Model #963 mourning dove, circa 1940s. These were made for Herter by the Artistic Wood Carving Company of Chicago. The Model #963 decoys are recognized as being the best of the company’s decoys with the dove decoys being the most sought-after of the entire Herter's line, more rare even than their owl and cedar crow decoys. This glass-eyed example with carved wing outline, detailed wing feather carving and a fluted tail is in near-mint original condition with the exception of a professional bill repair. It measures about 10 1/4” from tip of bill to tip of tail. References include "North American Factory Decoys" by Trayer, "Minnesota Duck Decoys" by Lodermeier and an extensive article by Donna Tonelli in the May/June 1999 issue of Decoy Magazine. SOLD

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D0927: Alfred Chopin Bar-Tailed Godwit Decoy, France, Circa 1950

I recently was involved in a trade in which I acquired a rather exceptional European shorebird decoy that reminds me very much of the work of Bill Bowman. I sent photos of the bird to three French experts in the field and received similar replies. One says the decoy is a bar-tailed godwit (called a “barge” in France) that is definitely by Alfred Chopin (1906 - 1982) of Sete, France, circa 1950. The other two agree as to species and say it is probably by Chopin. Chopin is recognized as France’s premier decoy maker. I’ve searched the internet for comparable sales and found only two, both of the same decoy. It was a curlew by Chopin that sold in the McCleery auction (January 2002, Lot 562) and again in 2016 (Guyette & Deeter, November 2016, Lot 220). In the first instance, it sold for $4600.00 and for $2012.50 in the second. Both prices include the buyer’s premium. This glass-eyed decoy is made in three plies, a center of wood flanked on each side by cork. It has relief wing carving, extended wing tips and a slightly exaggerated crop. The bill is a high quality professional repair, utilizing the broken pieces of the original bill. The bill is a high quality professional repair, utilizing the (broken pieces of?) the original bill. This decoy was owned about 30 years ago by a Boston antique dealer who dropped it and had the bill repaired. The person I got it from cannot remember whether he was told that the bill itself was broken or if it was intact but broken out of the face. When the bill was broken, there was damage done to the cork face immediately surrounding it. That area (approximately 1/2") was repaired as well. There is also some touch up to the tail’s tip. These repairs show up under black light but are very well done and virtually unnoticeable. The godwit is in otherwise original highly detailed blended feather paint showing light to moderate flaking and wear. It’s a large bird, measuring about 17” from tip of bill to tip of tail, but to fully appreciate its size, look at the last photo below, taken with a Shourds robin snipe in the foreground. If you are interested in the godwit, your price would be $875.00 including shipping. SOLD

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D0925: Unknown Wood Pigeon Decoy, Suffolk, UK, Circa Mid 20C

One of a striking rig of decoys by an unknown carver, circa late 2nd to early 3rd quarter of the 20th century. They were found in and are possibly from Suffolk, UK. The carver made these decoys in a number of different poses and sizes, leading me to the conclusion that they were made without pattern. I had originally thought that these decoys were made by a hunter for his own use, but I‘ve now seen enough examples to suggest that they could be a small volume commercial product. While each individual example is exemplary in its own right, a grouping in various poses produces a synergistic effort of great appeal. The bills on these decoys were crafted from nylon or a similar synthetic material rather than wood or cast metal. Unfortunately, the material proved to be rather brittle, resulting in breakage and replacement as is the case with this example. Measuring 15” in length, it is in original paint that has developed a very pleasing patina. SOLD

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