Published: February 20, 2018
GREENWOOD, DEL. — Davison B. Hawthorne was born in 1924 in Amityville, N.Y., and died January 18 in Greenwood. Hawthorne was a long-established figure within the decoy collecting community and will be sorely missed.
By the 1930s he was firmly entrenched in the pursuit of hunting black ducks and broadbill that populated Long Island Sound in good numbers. He began carving in the late 1930s and continued to hone his craft over the next seven decades. He began collecting in earnest in the 1950s, making him one of the true “old guards” in the field.
In 1959, Hawthorne and the love of his life, Kay, moved to Salisbury, Md., and in 1962 they opened the doors of their antiques shop, The Sandpiper. Hawthorne built a studio in the back where he painted and carved decoys and decoratives. He brought a highly trained eye to his carving, collecting and trading. By the mid-1960s he was firmly entrenched in competitive carving, entering the Nationals in Babylon, N.Y., and the Internationals in Davenport, Iowa.
During this period Hawthorne befriended fellow carver and dealer Lloyd Tyler of Crisfield, Md., who supplied Hawthorne with a good number of Hudson and Ward decoys. Additionally, Hawthorne became good friends with the Ward brothers themselves, acquiring and selling many of the famous makers’ best works. Important early collectors beat a path to the Hawthornes door, and Kay and Davison’s list of friends and clients reads like a “who’s who” from the early days of decoy collecting, including Joe French, Adele Earnest, Bill Mackey and George Starr.
A crack shot, Hawthorne was an avid upland hunter who raised and trained Brittany spaniels. He hunted wild quail, grouse and woodcock, and took numerous trips to Europe in pursuit of woodcock and pheasant. Davison remained sharp as a tack throughout his life, though at 93 he quipped with some finality that he was “retired from grouse hunting!”
—Stephen B. O’Brien Jr, Copley Fine Art Auctions
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm