Published: August 24, 2010
Decoys Unlimited Inc held its 25th annual summer decoy auction on July 26 and 27 at the Cape Codder Resort and Hotel, with almost $1.5 million grossed with all the sales realized. This translates into a more than 91 percent sell-through of the lots offered, and Ted and Judy Harmon had assembled more than 1,000 decoys for its third consecutive summer sale on Cape Cod.
The sale included something for everyone from dealers to entry-level collectors. The Harmons started the sale by offering several lots, including a handsome life-size great blue heron that brought $1,265. It was made by the talented Connecticut native David B. Ward, grandson of the Wildfowler Decoy Company’s co-founder, Ted Mulliken.
The sale was attended by hundreds of enthusiastic collectors from across the Americas and featured decoys from the collections of Win and Scotty Carter, Joseph Bard French and actress Lee Remick, among others. Prices were strong, and a record $109,250 was bid for the hissing George Boyd goose featured on the cover of the new book by Jim Cullen on Boyd titled Finely Carved and Nicely Painted . According to the auctioneer, it was the highest price attained this summer at auction for an American bird decoy.
The second highest price of the summer was a record $97,500 paid for an outstanding “Bishop’s Head Club,” a Ward brothers black duck decoy.
Boyd decoys from the Carter collection were very strong. A pair of red-breasted mergansers soared to $44,850. A Boyd blue-winged teal drake garnered a winning bid of $16,100, and a pair of Boyd goldeneyes climbed quickly to $16,100.
Other highlights from other collections included a Crowell miniature swan from the Joseph French collection, which swam gracefully to $11,500. A superb and very early decorative carved wing black-bellied plover by Elmer Crowell flew to $43,125, which was the highest price paid for an Elmer Crowell decorative bird carving of the summer season, according to Decoys Unlimited’s Ted Harmon.
A miniature Crowell black and white warbler sold for $6,900; a Crowell plover in spring plumage brought $12,075, and its rig mate in winter plumage sold for $13,787. An exquisite sculpture of a “trophy hanging quail” by Crowell, circa 1910, from the Governor Foss (Massachusetts) collection was bagged for $17,250, while Crowell’s lively animated quail ran to $8,625.
Other highlights were a Dudley canvasback sans paint that brought $16,100, and a magnum black duck by Joe Lincoln that sold for a record $17,250.
Factory decoys did well, with a Stevens widgeon the top performer at $25,300. A pair of Stevens redheads followed immediately and sold to the same buyer for $12,225. A set of well used charming yellowlegs decoys, circa 1910, by George Boyd flew away at $21,275.
In all, more than 20 lots sold for $10,000 or more, making for a fine showing. Crowell bird carvings have a very strong following on his native soil, and Decoys Unlimited Inc is just 15 miles from the Crowell homestead. Its next sale of decoys and Americana will be held on Cape Cod in November.
For a free appraisal of decoys and sporting art, contact Decoys Unlimited Inc at PO Box 206, West Barnstable, MA 02668.
For information, 508-362-2766 or www.decoysunlimitedinc.net .
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
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