Rare sicklebill curlew soars to $111,550 at Decoys Unlimited, Inc. A spectacular and rare sicklebill curlew decoy made in Duxbury, Mass., soared to $111,550 at an auction held July 24-25 by Decoys Unlimited, Inc., at the Cape Codder Resort & Hotel in Hyannis, Mass.
crafted circa 1920s by the Ward Brothers of Crisfield, Md., with original paint on body and bill, hit $24,180.
Artwork was also featured in the auction. A framed oil on board of two mermaids and King Neptune by the noted Cape Cod artist Ralph Cahoon (1910-1982), a relative of C.D. Cahoon, who is said to have painted decoys for Elmer Crowell when he was behind on orders, brought $24,150. A second Ralph Cahoon work, depicting mermaids at auction, made $23,000.
A rare and early example of a sanderling (or “wind bird”), executed circa 1860-1890 and attributed to a member of the Chipman family of Sandwich (on Cape Cod), commanded $23,000; while a circa 1900 greater yellowlegs by A.E. Crowell featuring fine early period brushed soft original paint with very light wear and only a few very small scuffs knocked down at $18,400.
A pair of outstanding lots each fetched $17,200. The first was a circa-1909 eider drake by Augustus Aaron “Gus” Wilson, Maine’s most celebrated decoy maker. Wilson carved animated decoys of all types, including this early sculpture, in a career that spanned about five decades. The second was an early mallard drake by A.E. Crowell (circa 1915-1918) with original paint.
Another early example by A.E. Crowell – this one a circa-1915 golden plover with the original paint and in all-original condition with no repairs -- crossed the block at $16,100; and a pair of Evans Factory (active 1921-1937) blue-winged teal (circa early 1900s), with early paint and the rare double blue speculum, plus the ‘Evans Decoy’ stamp on the bottom, rose to $14,950.
Rounding out the day’s top lots, a rare and oversize red-breasted merganser drake by Doug Jester of Chincoteaque, Va., having the original paint with some crazing, breezed to $13,800; and an early gunning model of an immature (or winter plumage) black-bellied plover by A.E. Crowell (circa 1905-1910), with extremely fine original paint, also gaveled for $13,800.
Ted Harmon has been in the decoy collecting business since 1966 and has been in the same Barnstable, Mass., location since 1970. He and his wife Judy started the auction aspect of the business in 1986. Today, Decoys Unlimited, Inc., is a full-service company for collectors of American bird decoys, folk art and related items. The firm also offers personalized collection advice, auction and private purchase representation, brokering for sales and appraisal services.
Decoys Unlimited, Inc., is always accepting quality consignments for future sales. To consign a single item or an entire collection, you may call them at (508) 362-2766 or (508) 737-2193; or, you can e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org. The firm’s next big auction will be a mixed antiques and decoys sale slated for late October or early November on Cape Cod.
To learn more about Decoys Unlimited, Inc., and for more information on the fall auction as times and dates are determined, please log on to www.decoysunlimitedinc.net.