Guyette & Schmidt, Inc conducted its annual fall decoy auction on November 12 and 13 at the Talbot County Community Center. The sale grossed $1.9 million, with 34 lots selling for more than $10,000 and two topping $100,000. As was the case in the April and July 2008 auctions, prices were strong and auction records were broken. Top lot in the sale was a pintail hen found in Kankakee, Ill. It sold for $142,500, which was around four times its presale estimate.
An Elmer Crowell (East Harwich, Mass.) blue-wing teal decoy sold over its high estimate, bringing $109,250, as did a John Dilley (Long Island, N.Y.) dowitcher at $66,125, setting a world auction record for the maker. A Charles Birch (Willis Wharf, Va.) swan consigned by the Maryland Historical Society sold at $92,000, also setting an auction record for the carver.
Frank Schmidt and Gary Guyette assembled more than 850 decoys and related items from collections and directly out of houses all over the United States and Canada. Prices for shorebird decoys and decoys from New England and New Jersey continued their rise.
The sale featured decoys from the collections of Richard Coale, Ralph Campbell, Knute Bartrug, the Miles Hancock estate and the Maryland Historical Society. Many items sold for two or three times their estimates as new buyers competed with decoy auction regulars for the better decoys.
Another auction record was set when a goldeneye drake by Harvey Stevens went for $52,325.
Other highlights of the sale included a Ward Brothers decoy that went for $31,625 and a Canada goose and a pair of widgeons brought that amount, while a pair of pintails by the Ward Brothers sold for $17,250.
Another example by Elmer Crowell, a wood duck, sold for $46,000, as did a sanderling on a stand by Obediah Verity.
It was not just decoys that did well: a masthead figure from the Maryland schooner Mattie Dean realized $22,435.
The auction was accompanied by a 55-table decoy show with decoy dealers from all over the United States exhibiting; there was a decoy buy, sell and swap set up in the parking lot as well.
All prices given include the buyer’s premium. For more information, www.guyetteandschmidt.com or 410-745-0485.