Published: April 1, 2003
Cobb Black Duck Flies to $9,900 at Harmon Auction
By David S. Smith
WESTLAKE, OHIO — More than 120 collector grade decoys were offered during a Decoys Unlimited auction that ran in conjunction with the Ohio Decoy Collectors and Carvers Association (ODCCA) event on March 14. The auction went well, according to auctioneer Ted Harmon, grossing $113,817.
The sale was attended by a large and enthusiastic crowd, a large portion of which were taking part in the popular ODCCA weekend.
Leading the sale was a rare and early black duck attributed to Nathan Cobb, Jr, Cobb Island, Va. The hollow carved decoy was marked with an “N” and featured an undercut tail and deeply inletted head. The old in-use paint exhibited wear and cracking, but was still regarded as being in very good condition and was quite attractive. The decoy carried a presale estimate of $7,5/9,000 and sold at $9,900.
A folky George Boyd red-breasted merganser with turned head, thought to be one of Boyd’s finest designs, sold just below the low estimate at $8,275. The decoy was in fine original paint, although a crack had been restored in the side of the body.
A rare and early merganser hen by the Burns family, Duxbury Mass., circa 1880, also attracted quite a bit of attention. The decoy, cataloged as the “only known example by [the] maker in original paint,” was one of approximately 25 birds made for the family hunting rig with less than a dozen of those being mergansers. Bidding on this lot was brisk with it selling for $4,675.
A pair of original condition cypress root Louisiana pintails by George Frederick, circa 1970, did well at $5,500. The pair was offered along with more than 20 other Louisiana decoys all consigned from a private Southern collection. Other lots from the collection included a pair of Frederick blue-wing teal at $5,225, and a Cavern Oliver cypress root mallard drake from Plaquemines Parrish that went for $1,650.
A rare miniature puffin by George Boyd, approximately three inches tall, attracted quite a bit of attention with it selling at $4,400, a hollow carved goose in original paint by Ben Schmidt sold at $4,125, and a Mason challenge grade black duck in a near mint crisp dry paint was hammered down at $3,100.
A pair of lesser scaup decoys by Edward “One Arm” Kelly sold at $2,310, a mason premier grade black duck in original paint $2,200 and a pair of redhead decoys by Ben Schmidt realized $2,200.
Also sold was an early redhead drake by Keyes Chadwick, Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., which retained the original paint on the body and had a second working coat of paint applied to the head by Chadwick. Despite some overall body wear and a tight check, the decoy sold above estimates at $2,695.
A small cork peep shorebird attributed to Long Island maker Thomas Hewlett did well at $2,200, while a running plover decoy from Virginia brought $962.
Prices include the ten percent buyer’s premium.
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