Published: February 20, 2017
CHARLESTON, S.C. — On February 18, St Michaels, Md.-based Guyette & Deeter conducted its North American decoys auction in Charleston. The sale was topped by a rare yellowlegs by Quoque, N.Y., carver John Dilley, the only known Dilley shorebird decoy with a turned head. It handily trounced its $12/15,000 presale estimate to bring $40,250, including premium. Carved in the last quarter of the Nineteenth Century, the bird featured fine feather paint detail and glass eyes. “His head is turned about 50-60 degrees to the side,” said Gary Guyette, “so while it was perhaps not the most spectacular Dilley shorebird, it’s the only one we’ve ever seen with a turned head. It came out of a cottage in Prouts Neck, Maine.”
Another strong performer in the sale was an Elmer Crowell (1864-1954) widgeon, which landed at $37,375, near the top of its presale estimate. Carved by the East Harwich, Mass., artist in the last quarter of the Nineteenth Century, the rare example featured carved, crossed wingtips and fluted tail, with a slightly turned head. It was branded on the underside “CWW” for Charles W. Whittier, a member of the Swan Island Club in North Carolina in the last quarter of the Nineteenth Century.
Overall, it was a good sale, according to Guyette, who was making his way back St Michaels, Md., after the event-packed weekend surrounding the Southeastern Wildlife Expo, a destination must for decoy and sporting art collectors, some 50,000 of which were expected to descend among various venues. “Only five items in our auction did not sell, making for a little over 98 percent sell-through rate,” said Guyette, who estimated a gross of about $620,000 on about 285 lots offered.
A complete report will appear in a later issue.
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