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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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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D0870: Harris Family Golden Plover Decoy, Nantucket

Excellent golden plover in breeding plumage by a member of the Harris family, Nantucket, MA, circa 4th quarter, 19th century. The 9.5" decoy is in strong original paint and retains the original conical bill and tack eyes. As was typical of these decoys, the head and neck were carved as a piece separate from the body. The carving is identified on the bottom in ink as a "Golden plover, Nantucket, Mass, 1880". There is a thin coat of varnish protecting the finish.

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D0866: Exceptional Gadwall Drake Decoy, Circa 3Q, 20C

Outstanding hollow glass-eyed gadwall drake, circa 3rd quarter, 20th century. Expertly made with carved musculature, primaries, secondaries and a fluted tail, it has incredible feather paint with expert vermiculation and detailed bill carving. The decoy measures 15" in length, just under 7" in width and stands 7" tall at the head which is turned slightly to the left. It is in near-mint original condition with only a tiny paint chip on the right edge of the bill and no repairs. While who made this fine decoy is unknown, there is no questioning either his skills or familiarity with the anatomy of waterfowl. It was most likely made as an entry to one of the major decoy carving contests of its era such as the International Decoy Contest, the U. S. National Decoy Contest or the Canadian National Decoy Makers' Contest. Unfortunately, because of possible bias in judging these decoys, the carvers were not allowed to sign or otherwise mark their works in any manner. NEW NOTE: This decoy may well have been made by John Zachman of Detroit, MI, circa 1960 - 1970. SOLD

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