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THE HARMON “DUST JACKET” PLOVER TRIO BY A. ELMER CROWELL

JULY 25, 2019L


One of the only photographs known of Crowell “dust jacket� plover being gunned over. The location is Bassing Beach next to White Head, Cohasset Harbor, 1922. Image from the journals of Harry V. Long. 1


“Crowell’s reputation rests firmly on his shorebirds. They are without peer, as distinguished as the famous Audubon prints— as natural and as lovingly interpreted.” -Adele Earnest, The Art of the Decoy: American Bird Carvings

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THE HARMON “DUST JACKET” PLOVER TRIO BY A. ELMER CROWELL

in association with

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275a


THE SPORTING SALE SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

Auction to be held at Hotel 1620 | 180 Water Street | Plymouth, Massachusetts Wednesday, July 24 Dealer Exhibition Auction Preview

4:00PM - 7:00PM 5:00PM - 7:00PM

Thursday, July 25 Dealer Exhibition Auction Preview Auction

8:30AM - 4:00PM 8:30AM - 10:00AM 10:00AM

DECOY SPECIALISTS Stephen B. O’Brien, Jr. Fine Art & Decoy Specialist steve@copleyart.com

Colin S. McNair Decoy Specialist colin@copleyart.com

ABSENTEE & TELEPHONE BIDS To schedule absentee or telephone bids, please use the forms found in the back of this catalog. All bids must be received at least twenty-four hours before the start of the sale.

Please review the Terms and Conditions of Sale on page 42 and Important Notices on page 8 of this catalog.

COPLEY FINE ART AUCTIONS, LLC info@copleyart.com | 65 Sharp Street | Hingham, MA 02043 | 617.536.0030 5


Catalog by: Stephen B. O’Brien, Jr. Cinnie O’Brien Colin S. McNair Leah Tharpe Chelsie Olney Eileen Steward, photography & design Isabel Berger, intern

Printed in the USA

© 2019 Copley Fine Art Auctions, LLC. All rights reserved. Chauncey Cushing Nash, who hunted over Crowell's "dust jacket" plover with his father-in-law Harry V. Long. Chatham Beach, 1909-1910. 6

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

5

Schedule of Events

8

Important Notices

10

American Bird Decoys | Their Origins as Art

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Ted & Judy Harmon | A Passion for Crowell

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The “Dust Jacket” Moniker

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A. Elmer Crowell Biography

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“Dust Jacket” Plover | In Museums and the Marketplace

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The Harmon “Dust Jacket” Plover Trio | Lots 275a-c

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Crowell Plover | c. 1895-1930

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A Century of Commendations

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Appendix A - B

42

Terms and Conditions of Sale

43

Buyer Pre-Registration Form

44

Absentee/Telephone Bid Form

45

Authorized Shipping Release Form

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THE SPORTING SALE IMPORTANT NOTICES 1

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Please be advised that all persons wishing to bid at this auction should read, and be familiar with the Terms and Conditions of Sale in this catalog prior to bidding. Buyer’s premium A buyer’s premium of 20% (23% for online bidding) of the final bid price up to and including $1,000,000, plus 15% of the final bid price over $1,000,000, will be applied to each lot sold, to be paid by the Buyer to Copley Fine Art Auctions, LLC as part of the purchase price.

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Consign to our next sale Copley Fine Art Auctions, LLC is accepting consignments for our Winter Sale 2020. Please contact us by phone at 617.536.0030, or by email at consignments@copleyart.com.

4 Pre-registration Although you may register at the time of sale, we strongly encourage pre-registration to save you time at check-in. PreRegistration forms are available online, as well as in the back of this catalog. 5

Absentee and telephone bidding If you plan to place absentee bids or to bid by telephone, please make sure that we receive your Absentee/Telephone Bid form at least 24 hours before the start of the sale. It is possible that any bids received after this time may not be accepted. You will receive confirmation of your absentee bid(s) within 24 hours of receipt. If you do not receive confirmation, please call our office at 617.536.0030.

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Sales tax All bidders holding a valid Massachusetts or out-of-state resale number must provide their certificate, or copy thereof while registering. Failure to do so will subject the bidder to a mandatory 6.25% Massachusetts sales tax on purchases.

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Inspection of items offered at this auction All items are sold as is and should be inspected either personally or by agent before a bid is placed. Prospective buyers should satisfy themselves by personal inspection as to the condition of each lot. Although condition reports may be given on request, such reports are statements of opinion only. Regardless of whether or not a condition report is given, all property is sold as is. The absence of a condition report does not imply that the property is in good condition. Copley Fine Art Auctions, LLC reserves the right at its sole discretion to refuse condition requests.

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Flat art dimensions Please be aware that all flat art dimensions are approximate and are rounded to the nearest quarter inch.

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Additional images For lots with multiple items and only one shown, please visit copleyart.com for additional images.

10 Stands Please be aware that stands are not included with items purchased. 11 Condition description of wear or gunning wear Wear or gunning wear may include all types of wear and damage that can be inflicted, and may be expected from hunting, handling, use, or time. This may include, but is not limited to, paint wear, flaking, dings, scratches, checks, cracks, craquelure, age lines, dents, chips, rubs, blunts, broken eyes, shot scars, seam separations, raised grain, rust, filler loss, sap, discoloration, and altered rigging or stick holes, and eyes. The condition of the undersides may not be listed. Clear coats such as varnish, shellac, and oil may not be listed. Repairs and restorations may include new material. Paint listed as “working” or “old” is likely not original. Repairs and construction features that are original to the work, including but not limited to putty, bungs, plugs, patches, and stabilization, may not be mentioned. Replaced and repaired bills may include touch-up near insertion point and extend through back of head, if applicable. Radiographs, or X-Ray images, may be available by request for select lots. Please submit additional condition report requests at least ten days prior to the sale date. 12 Condition description of “As found” The “as found” designation denotes that condition issues are not listed. It is the responsibility of the buyer to determine condition. The item is sold with any faults and imperfections that may exist. 13 Auction results Unofficial auction results will be available online approximately one week after the auction at copleyart.com. 14 Pick up and shipping Buyers wishing to pick up items at the sale must do so on the day of the sale. Buyers wishing to pick up items after the auction at our office may do so only by appointment starting five days after the sale. If you would like your items shipped, please complete and return the Authorized Shipping Release form found in the back of this catalog. 15 Auction day contact On site: 617.536.0030 info@copleyart.coom Auctioneer Peter J. Coccoluto MA License #2428


THE SPORTING SALE July 25 | 10AM Hotel 1620, 180 Water Street, Plymouth, MA

The Harmon “Dust Jacket” Plover on view in American Decoy: The Invention at the Peoria Riverfront Museum, February 9–April 28, 2019. Lots 275a-c.

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AMERICAN BIRD DECOYS THEIR ORIGINS AS ART

Robert Shaw, past curator of Vermont’s Shelburne

upon the mantel as a reminder of a glorious past day’s

Museum, defines decoys as “the only folk art truly

shoot. This practice occurred simultaneously in small

indigenous to North America. Unlike quilts, hooked rugs,

regional pockets and flyways throughout North America.

carved trade signs, carousel figures, weather-vanes, and

Over time, certainly by 1900, the appreciation of these

ship carvings—all of which have European precedents—

utilitarian objects as forms of art had started. Although

the roots of the decoy lie deep in the American land and

by no means a common occurrence, decoy collecting in

in its vast natural resources.”

the modern sense had begun.

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The earliest North American decoys ever discovered

Decoy collectors often point to the groundbreaking

were found in 1924 during an archaeological expedition

publication of Joel Barber’s 1934 Wild Fowl Decoys as

in Lovelock Cave, Nevada. Dating back almost

the start of the modern era of decoy collecting.3 The

2,000 years, the decoys consisted of a rig of painted

importance of this pioneering publication cannot be

canvasbacks fashioned out of reeds found in a grass

overstated. As a New York City architect, Barber’s

carrying basket. The manner by which the waterfowl

contributions were all the more significant, for his

were hunted remains a mystery. It is likely that these

fascination with decoys was rooted in their design, form,

early hunters gathered the birds either by bow and arrow

and history. He writes, “I have collected old decoys

or by means of using a hollow reed as a snorkel, sneaking

with the idea of writing a book about them—a sort of a

up on rafting flocks and grabbing the birds by their feet.

decoy duck omnibus with pictures and stories.”4 Barber’s

Whatever the method used, decoys were apparently

purpose in writing Wild Fowl Decoys was to record, or

employed to lure the birds within close range of the

perhaps more accurately report on, a phenomenon that

hunter.

was well under way.

It is uncertain exactly when decoys were first identified

Some of the earliest documented decoy collectors

as art. It is believed that by the mid-nineteenth century,

gravitated towards the work of A. Elmer Crowell (1862–

market gunners, admiring decoys for their artistry,

1952). They included Harry Vinton Long (1857–1949),

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began retiring their favorite birds to a prominent place

Shorebird hunting over Crowell decoys from Long’s Journal, 1922. 10


An interior shot of White Head, Harry V. Long’s Cohasset estate, including a Pilgrim chest, Windsor chairs, an Audubon print, and two famous Crowell Canada geese, 1920.

Charles Ashley Hardy (1874–1929), Dr. John Charles

Moraine Farms. The vast majority of carvings produced

Phillips (1876–1938), and Dr. John Henry Cunningham

for Phillips were masterworks, a designation under

(1877–1960) among others. Their identification

which this trio certainly falls. Indeed, they are the finest

of Crowell as a national treasure is not surprising,

shorebird decoy offering to ever come to auction,

especially in the case of Harry V. Long, as one of Long’s

along with Nina Fletcher Little’s curlew pair by Charles

core missions in life was the preservation of Americana.

Sumner Bunn (1865-1952).

Long served as director of the museum of the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (now Historic New England) in 1919. Photographs from his journal reveal that by the 1920’s Long was placing decoys as decorative objects inside his home alongside Audubon prints, Windsor chairs, and Pilgrim chests. It is known that Long retired three “dust jacket” shorebirds to the mantel, likely in the late 1920’s as the laws on shorebird hunting went out.

History reveals that the Harmon feeding plover was found by renowned antique dealer and Americana advisor, Sy Rapaport. The turned-head and straighthead decoys were collected by pilgrim furniture specialist and early disciple of the untouched antique surface, Roger Bacon. They were brought together in 1977 by one of Crowell’s greatest collectors and modern day supporters, Ted Harmon, who acquired them from Rapaport and Bacon.

With great patrons like Phillips, Hardy, and Long Crowell’s market ascent was rather swift, by 1932 even Long had to wait in line for Crowell commissioned works. A testament to Long’s foresight, Crowell’s work has virtually never waned in popularity in over one hundred years of collecting.

During their decades in the Harmon Collection, they have been published in numerous top decoy and Americana books and showcased in several prestigious exhibitions. This marks the first ever offering of a Crowell “dust jacket” plover trio, as the Mackey and Delph groupings were broken apart prior to their sales.

It may never be known, neither the exact date, nor the

It is an honor to work in association with Ted and Judy

owner who made the decision to relocate the Harmon

Harmon, and Decoys Unlimited, Inc. in auctioning these

“dust jacket” plovers from marsh to mantel. It may very

pinnacle wooden sculptures for the first time.

well have been Dr. John C. Phillips, as all three birds were discovered north of Boston, not far from Phillips’ 11


Ted & Judy Harmon | A Passion for Crowell

Judy and Ted Harmon

Ted Harmon and his wife, Judy, have been important

“Without Crowell, others might have carved birds in

figures in the decoy and antiques field since 1966. The

decorative ways, but the art form would have taken much

duo own and operate Decoys Unlimited, Inc., based

longer to develop,” states Harmon in a Cape Cod Life

on Cape Cod. In addition to being a long-time dealer,

article. After the owner of Crowell’s East Harwich

Ted has curated one of the most important personal

homestead, Sharon Mabile, expressed a willingness to

collections of New England decoys including some of the

donate the carver’s workshop, Harmon saw an

world’s top Lincolns, Chadwicks, and Crowells.

opportunity and acted, forming the A. E. Crowell American Bird Decoy Foundation in 2005. Serving as

It is no coincidence that the Harmon’s home is next to

both the president and director, Harmon and the

Barnstable’s Great Marsh. Known for its prolific diversity

foundation were able to raise money for the

of birdlife, the marsh is a prime area to encounter live

deconstruction, relocation, and refurbishing of the

black ducks, geese, plover, and sandpipers, which were

deteriorated building. Their efforts, along with a

A. Elmer Crowell’s favorite subjects. The Harmons have

$150,000 Community Preservation Act (CPA) Grant

always harbored a particular admiration for the fellow

received by the Harwich Historical Society in 2013, made

Cape Cod native and over the decades have sought out

the restoration of Crowell’s workshop possible.

the maker’s best works. Indeed, after selling an earlier

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business they were involved with, the Harmons promptly

The restored workshop now resides at 80 Parallel Street

reallocated the assets into major Crowell decoys.

in Harwich, Massachusetts, about four miles down the


The exterior of Crowell’s workshop, 1957. Courtesy of Heritage Museums & Gardens, Sandwich, MA.

Crowell’s restored workshop, 2018.

road from where it originally stood. It functions as a

cherished and loved these decoys for over forty years,

small museum, a lecture and demonstration hall, and a

but now it is time for them to move on to new owners

contemporary carving workspace.

who will become a part of their story.”

The Harmon’s admiration for the carvings of Crowell

Sources

shorebirds spans six decades, during which time they

Cullity, Brian, The Songless Aviary: The World of A. E.

have handled and collected hundreds of the maker’s

Crowell & Son, Hyannis, MA, 1992.

best works, however none more important than the

Driscoll, Sean F. “Duck decoy dealing turns into career

“dust jacket” trio. Known as a particular wary species,

for lifelong collector.” Cape Cod Times, March 12, 2017.

some carvers went to great pains to create animated

White, Chris. “A simple man, an extraordinary talent.”

and intricately painted decoys to lure them to a hunting

Cape Cod Life, April 2016.

stand, though none more so than Crowell. “I have searched high and low across the Cape and the rest of the country looking for the maker’s best plover decoys, aside from perhaps the feeder in the Paul Tudor Jones collection, I have found none better. Judy and I have

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THE “DUST JACKET” MONIKER

The Harmon turned-head “dust jacket” plover, lot 275a.

The Mackey-O’Brien turned-head plover, made famous on the dust jacket of American Bird Decoys.

Of the thousands of decoys that William J. Mackey Jr. owned in his lifetime, he selected just thee birds for the cover of his early and influential volume American Bird Decoys, published in 1965. They were three elaborately carved and painted black-bellied plover by A. Elmer Crowell. It was from collectors referencing this iconic book that the term “dust jacket” plover came into being. John and Shirley Delph’s 1990 book, New England Decoys, also features a trio of related plover on its dust jacket along with an early turned-head wood duck by the same maker. The Delph’s choice further cemented the moniker for this elite shorebird group. All six of the aforementioned plover have been to auction, breaking up both trios. The New England Decoys cover This feeder is featured on the dust jacket cover of John and Shirley Delph’s New England Decoys. Private Collection.

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group has been reunited in a private collection. Today, the Delph and Harmon plover are the only two trios that remain together.


“The trio of black-bellied plovers were made in 1913 by Crowell. They were found washed up on shore after the 1938 hurricane. These must be about the best decoys by any carver known.” -Shirley & John Delph, New England Decoys

Two turned-head plover from the dust jacket of New England Decoys. Private Collection.

“Elmer Crowell at his best. These Black-bellied Plovers combine his detailed carving of wing and tail feathers with the bold, true paint pattern that made him a master.” - William J. Mackey Jr., American Bird Decoys

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1861–1865 American Civil War

1887 Harwich Train Station built

1912 The Commonwealth of Massachusetts bans the sale of migratory birds

1862: born on December 5th in East Harwich, Massachusetts

1898: works for the “Three Bears” at their Pleasant Lake hunting stand

1874: receives his first shotgun, a twelve-gauge, from his father

Late 1890s: rigs electronically operated cage doors for his live decoys

1876: receives twenty-four painting lessons at age fourteen

1900: Dr. Phillips hires Crowell to be the gunning stand manager at his Wenham Lake camp

1876: sets up his own gunning stand on Pleasant Lake and uses live and wooden decoys to shoot nearly one hundred black ducks

1900: the first federal conservation law, the Lacey Act of 1900, targets the commercial plume trade

1890: marries his first wife, Laura 1901: begins carving decoys for hunters he meets through Phillips 1891: Cleon, Elmer’s only child, is born 1890s: sells game to Boston and New York markets via the Cape Cod Railroad

1905: becomes the gunning stand manager at Phillips’ Oldham Lake camp 1910: still identifies himself as a cranberry farmer on the U.S. Census

1895: his only brother, Everett, commits suicide at age twentythree

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A. ELMER CROWELL

1862-1952 | EAST HARWICH, MA

1914–1918

1929

World War I

U.S. Stock Market Crash & the beginning of the Great Depression

1939–1945

1900–1915: creates many of his finest carvings

1925: Elmer’s first wife, Laura, dies

1910: carves and initials the Long open-bill gunning yellowlegs

1927: Elmer marries his second wife, Betty

1912: begins working full-time as a decoy carver

1927: price for a Crowell decoy is approximately $2.00

1913: William Temple Hornaday publishes Our Vanishing Wildlife: Its Extermination and Preservation

1933: price for a Crowell decoy is approximately $6.00

World War II

1940s: rheumatism gradually prevents him from holding a knife 1918: Congress passes the Migratory Bird Treaty Act ending the commercial hunting of migratory bird species 1918: Cleon joins the U.S. Army, but barely survives the Spanish Influenza he contracted during training camp 1920s: the Crowells create business cards and sell decoys in Boston sporting goods stores

1947: writes “Cape Cod Memories,” his only known autobiographical work 1950: Elmer’s second wife, Betty, dies 1952: the carver passes away in his East Harwich home

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A. ELMER CROWELL 1862-1952 | EAST HARWICH, MA

“Seasoned hunters will tell you how block decoys—those zipped out from a bandsaw without a personality—will frighten a flock rather then tempt them to alight. Once a hunter himself, Mr. Crowell has observed this time and time again. As a matter of fact, he really got into this decoy designing business because of the poor showing of the block birds, which forced him to turn out his own.“ – Cape Cod Standard-Times, 1940

Born in East Harwich, Massachusetts, Elmer Crowell

resulting decoys from this early period are some of the

possessed an early fascination with ornithology and

most desirable bird carvings ever made.

hunting. These passions led to a career as a market gunner in the late 1800s. In 1898 Dr. John C. Phillips Jr., a sportsman who was also a prominent member of Boston society and a prolific author, asked Crowell to manage his Wenham Lake hunting camp. Upon seeing Crowell’s masterful carvings, Phillips and the camp’s affluent guests persuaded Crowell to make decoys for them. The

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Widely credited with being the father of American bird carving, Elmer Crowell’s influence on all future carvers cannot be overstated. One of the most famous carvers in the world, Crowell’s meticulous workmanship and exquisite painting have never been surpassed.


The brief period during which he carved these animated working decoys was just prior to the passing of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, which outlawed nearly all shorebird shooting. Fortuitously for patrons and collectors this shorebird gunning period coincided with Crowell’s greatest carving years, which are generally regarded as 1900-1915. Known for their variety of forms, exceptional paint patterns, grand scale, and beautifully carved primaries, Crowell took tremendous care in carving these early “dust jacket” decoys. The efforts that he imparted in carving these birds was simply too timeconsuming and he rather quickly abandoned the model all together. In fact this wing-tip treatment, which virtually disappears from all of his work by 1920, acts as a marker for his stylistic changes.

Crowell is believed to have made approximately three “dust jacket” plover rigs, with each rig consisting of roughly one dozen decoys. Approximately 20 examples from these early Crowell shorebird hunting rigs are thought to exist today. Remarkably, most of the “dust jacket” plovers that survived still retain their original paint; a theory being that even the hunter’s that used them appreciated Crowell’s craftsmanship and took added care with them in the field, during transport, and in storage.

Throughout his life, Crowell held many jobs to make ends meet. Market gunner, live decoy keeper, camp manager, hunting guide, and decoy carver are some of his wellknown titles; however, Elmer was also gainfully employed at different times during his life as a cranberry farmer1, a poultry breeder, a deputy fire warden, and even a browntail moth eradicator2. Although Crowell worked as a

Photograph of Crowell holding a four-gauge shotgun, 1920. Long’s description reads: “Elmer Crowell. Oldham Pond. So [South] Hanover.”

hunting camp manager during many fall seasons and shot birds for market whenever he could, cranberry farming would remain his main source of income until 1912.

Shober & Carqueville Lithograph Co., The Grand Pacific Hotel Twenty-Ninth Annual Game Dinner, 1884. Illinois River market gunners of the late 19th century shot millions of birds and sold them to fancy restaurants, such as the Chicago Grand Pacific Hotel. In 1884 the hotel’s twenty-ninth annual game dinner featured twenty species of game birds, including plover.

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A. ELMER CROWELL 1862-1952 | EAST HARWICH, MA

A stanza from a 1906 poem in Phillips’ Wenham Lake

wooden decoys: “While he was connected with a private

hunting log reads, “And Crowell...is not on deck, Rigged

camp one time, there was trouble with the decoys. They

out in shooting toggs, He had to stay down on Cape Cod,

didn’t seem to decoy. The ducks refused to take them

And nurse his berry bogs.”3

seriously. ‘I can make better decoys than those,’ said Mr. Crowell, and he did.”4

Crowell’s carving, which started out as a hobby, gradually evolved into his full-time occupation. Two major factors

In Cape Cod Ahoy, Arthur W. Tarbell recalls, “...at the

launched his decoy-making career at the turn of the

request of some Harvard students with whom he was

century. The first was his proximity to affluent hunters

gunning at the time he tried his hand at something

through Phillips and others. The second factor was the

better, and was shortly turning out a decoy that deceived

advent of state and federal game laws which prohibited

even an occasional Nimrod who banged away at it for

market gunning and diminished the use of live decoys. These restrictions propelled Crowell to seek out a new source of income and created the need for more convincing wooden decoys.

Since Crowell worked for Phillips for over a decade, it is fitting that his decoy-making career blossomed at the Wenham Lake gunning stand. A 1926 Cape Cod Magazine article documents the maker’s decision to start creating

A Crowell business card displaying a phone number with a combination of letters and digits.

“...to make others more realistic and artistic would be to produce a more expensive article. Nevertheless, he determined to make a few ‘just to see how they would go.’ So, in filling one order from a wealthy customer, he let himself go. He made ducks with their heads turned backward, as ducks do turn their heads, when preening their feathers…He painted them with eyes which were more than round blobs of paint. And when he shipped that order to the wealthy customer, he explained what he had done, why he had done it, and why the amount of his bill was considerably greater than his former bills had been. And the result was that, almost immediately, he received orders for more decoys of that kind from that customer and more and still more from that customer’s friends. His decoy-making business grew from a mere ‘side line’ to a steady occupation, occupying all his working time. He gave up gunning, except as a sport, and kept on cutting and carving and painting.”5 - Joseph C. Lincoln, Cape Cod Yesterdays

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Even patron Harry V. Long was made to wait, as he laments in the photograph’s caption written in his 1932 journal: “Elmer Crowell at work, he promised me that winter [yellowlegs] on the right four years ago—‘just a dream.’”

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A. ELMER CROWELL 1862-1952 | EAST HARWICH, MA

the real thing.”6 As hunting most frequently occurred

these plover, is one area of particular excellence. While

when Phillips brought his friends to the camp on

the final layer of paint was still wet, the maker applied

weekends, Crowell had downtime to carve during the

contrasting-color delineations. Once the contrasting

week in between his daily gunning stand tasks.

paint became tacky, he took a clean, dry brush and gently feathered the two colors together, producing

The decoys Crowell made as a camp manager were promptly employed at the camp. “These were so skillfully executed that the gunners who used the decoys asked to keep them. It was the success of these models that started Mr. Crowell carving not only ducks, but shorebirds and the many variety of songbirds that throng the Cape every spring and summer,” relates a 1941 article.7 In a short time, the

a blended effect. The maker’s natural ability, coupled with his patience and high personal standards, enabled him to create the blended paint which subsequently became known as the ‘Crowell’ style. “Yet Crowell did not overdo the lifelike effect.” notes Adele Earnest, “He sensed that abstraction was necessary in all art, and he did not strain to paint and carve every feather.”8 The incised detail of the primary feathers typically

maker was asked to sell decoys to several hunters. These important, early connections would eventually bring many other customers to Crowell’s workshop.

Virtually all who have written of Crowell have praised his paint. “His [Elmer’s] control was incomparable;” proclaims Robert Shaw, “he seems to have been able to make the brush do whatever he wanted it to— pounce, dab, spot, blend.” The painter’s “wet-on-wet” dry brush feathering technique, which can be seen on

Crowell exhibitor tag from the 1927 New England Sportsmen’s Show. Courtesy of Heritage Museums & Gardens, Sandwich, MA.

“Though the decoys are in fine condition, the scattering of shot holes is proof of their baptism by fire.” -William J. Mackey Jr. discussing his trio in American Bird Decoys

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Arthur Burdett Frost (1851–1928), Bay Snipe Shooting (detail), 1900, watercolor and gouache en grisaille, 16 ¼ x 25 ½ in. (see inside back cover for another Frost rendition of shorebird hunting). Hunting for the vast majority of shorebird species was outlawed in 1918 in the United States. Ten years later, plover and yellowlegs were added to the protected species list. Today, only Wilson’s snipe and woodcock are still legal to hunt.

receives all of the attention at the wing tips, however the

he painted, or that he had handled so many that their

painter did not miss an opportunity here. His application

shapes and feather patterns were etched in his memory.

of pure black on these birds is noteworthy. A stiff bristle brush was used to apply the black paint, leaving strong and deliberate brush strokes that mimic the vanes of a feather. The channels left by some bristles allow traces of the white undercoat to be seen, heightening the subtle effect.

It is quite fitting that one of the greatest decoy collectors of all time, William J. Mackey Jr. of New Jersey, chose New England masterworks for the cover of his book. Mackey, discussing his trio, points out with pride that “though the decoys are in fine condition, the scattering of shot holes is proof of their baptism by fire.”

When viewing his “dust jacket” birds, one has the sense that Crowell was either looking right at the real bird as

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A. ELMER CROWELL 1862-1952 | EAST HARWICH, MA

“The plumage achieved a unique feeling of soft, deep feathers—an effect for which he is justly famous. His birds probably look better now than when he first painted them. Age and weather often enhance the beauty of painted wood surfaces. Fading produces color tones not found in a paintbox. Blacks become soft rusts and blue-grays, and white mellows. In places where the paint was thinly applied, wear begins to reveal the warm tones of the wood underneath.” -Adele Earnest, The Art of the Decoy

NOTES

American Bird Decoys | Their Origins as Art 1. 2. 3. 4.

Robert Shaw, “The Art of Decoys,” The Great Book of Wildfowl Decoys, ed. Joe Engers (San Diego, CA: Thunder Bay Press, 1990), pp. 13-14. Donna Tonelli, “The Lovelock Cave Decoys,” Decoy Magazine, March/April 2007, p. 34; Joe Engers, ed., The Great Book of Wildfowl Decoys (San Diego, CA: Thunder Bay Press, 1990) p. 13. Joel Barber, Wild Fowl Decoys (Garden City, NY: Garden City Publishing, 1937). Ibid.,3.

A. Elmer Crowell Biography 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

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Crowell refers to himself as a cranberry farmer from 1890 until 1910 according to the 1890, 1900, and 1910 United States Federal Censuses. According to the 1911 Harwich Town Report, Crowell was paid a $15.40 bounty by the town of Harwich for catching brown-tail moths because they were destroying trees. John C. Phillips, Wenham Lake Shooting Record and the Farm Bag, 1897 to 1925 (Privately printed, 1926), p. 103. Kay Kingsley, “The Bird-Maker of Harwich,” The Cape Cod Magazine, August 16, 1926, p. 10. Joseph C. Lincoln, Cape Cod Yesterdays (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1935), p. 141. Arthur Wilson Tarbell, Cape Cod Ahoy (Boston: A. T. Ramsay, 1933), p. 283. “Cape’s Greatest Craftsman Has ‘Carved Birds’ 30 Years,” Barnstable Patriot, August 8, 1941, p. 1. Adele Earnest, The Guennol Collection, Vol. 2, 1982


275a

275c

275b

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“DUST JACKET” PLOVER IN MUSEUMS AND THE MARKETPLACE

With its bountiful hunting grounds and highly skilled crafts-

Eight “dust jacket” plovers dominate Decoy Magazine’s

men, New England produced a great number of decoy

“100 All-Time High Prices at Decoy Auctions” list. These

makers. Dozens of talented carvers were known to have

shorebirds hold more of the top 100 positions than any

worked within a 150-mile radius of Boston during Crowell’s

other decoy maker’s entire showing. Additionally, Crowell

lifetime. Top makers, such as William Folger (1820–1895),

holds twenty seven of the top spots with Nathan Cobb Jr.

Augustus Aaron “Gus” Wilson (1864–1950), Joseph

(1825-1905) next on the list with seven. A very closely

Whiting Lincoln (1859–1938), Lothrop Turner Holmes

related “dust jacket” feeding plover from the Collection

(1824–1899), Charles “Shang” Wheeler (1872–1949), and

of Paul Tudor Jones is the top shorebird on the list selling

George H. Boyd (1873–1941), all produced exceptional

for $830,000, the second highest price ever paid for a

decoys during the same time period, yet none of these

decoy at auction.

carvers are as well known as Crowell. Most recently the Harmon trio were a main attraction at As decoy collecting has evolved from primarily a

the exhibition American Decoy: The Invention curated by

regional pursuit, top acquisitors from across the country

Randy Root and Zac Zetterberg at the new Peoria River-

have flocked to Crowell’s work above all others. Due to his

front Museum, in Peoria, Illinois. In its May/June 2019

tremendously varied output of working decoys, decoratives,

publication Decoy Magazine praised the exhibition stating

and miniatures, many in animated poses, the maker’s birds

“it’s doubtful that a decoy exhibit of this magnitude will

can be found in nearly every state in America. While many

ever be repeated.” The publication reported “there were

other decoy makers have historically gone in and out of

roughly 200 decoys in the display, which featured quite a

fashion, the demand for Crowell’s work has virtually never

few Illinois River decoys from the collection of Tom Figge

wavered. For over a hundred years, collectors and curators

as well as some top-notch decoys from the East Coast,

have lauded the carver’s prized works.

including a Lee Dudley ruddy duck from the Shelburne Museum collection, a preening mallard by the Caines

A. E. Crowell’s “dust jacket” plovers have long been viewed

brothers from the Dick McIntyre collection, a choice

by Americana and decoy collectors, not only as the gold

group of Elmer Crowell decoys from the collection of Ted

standard for the maker’s working shorebirds, but some

Harmon and dozens of quality decoys by various makers

of the finest gunning decoys ever produced. Additionally,

from the collection of Joe and Donna Tonelli.” While the

museum curators have considered them amongst the finest

Harmon trio has never appeared at auction, their loan

American sculpture ever made, illustrating this point, a

records at museum exhibitions and illustrations in books

“dust jacket” plover in the collection of the American Folk

are extensive and virtually unrivaled in the field.

Art Museum was recently exhibited in the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

“The Harmon Plover Trio were second to none in one of the finest decoy exhibitions in history, American Decoy: The Invention.” -Zac Zetterberg, Curator Peoria Riverfront Museum

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Feeding “dust jacket� black-bellied plover, c. 1910. This decoy holds the world record for any shorebird ever sold. Collection of Paul Tudor Jones II. 27


“An experienced gunner from North Chatham on the North Beach meadow one day recently, noticed that another gunner not far away was getting all the shooting. After a time the former went across and found the latter, a Boston sportsman, getting ready to leave with a good bag of shore birds and was carefully packing away his decoys in an elaborate case. Being questioned, he replied, ‘These were made by a man named Crowell, who lives somewhere around here on the Cape, and they are not for sale at any price.’” – Boston Globe article, 1914

28

Shorebird shooting, from Long’s journal, 1922.


THE HARMON “DUST JACKET” PLOVER TRIO LOTS 275a-c

275c 275b

275a

29


A. ELMER CROWELL 1862-1952 | EAST HARWICH, MA

“They [The Harmon “Dust Jacket” Trio] are three supreme creations of Elmer Crowell and represent the finest in decoy carving and painting. The deeply carved feathers and boldly sculpted bodies are finished with blended feather patterns, unique to the Crowell hand.” -Brian Cullity, The Songless Aviary: The World of A. E. Crowell & Son

275a The Harmon Turned-Head “Dust Jacket” Plover A. ELMER CROWELL (1862-1952) EAST HARWICH, MA, C. 1910 10 in. long

The Harmon turned-head plover is considered by many to be the finest shorebird of its kind known to exist. The exquisite paint technique laid atop this masterful sculpture creates an illusion of realism unrivaled by any other decoy carver. The animated bird created in wood and pigment, comes to life with its skyward casting glance. Two other turned-head comparables also by Crowell, are featured on the cover of Delph’s New England Decoys. The only other turned-head shorebird in the “top one hundred” decoys at auction list is also a notable cover bird, a curlew by Thomas Gelston (1850-1924) illustrated on the front of Quintina Colio’s, American Decoys. That carving set a world record for the maker when it sold for $467,000 over a decade ago. The form of this decoy is striking, with the head turned ninety degrees and the tail arching gracefully downward, completing an “S” curve along the birds lower profile. It features Crowell’s best incised primaries which measure six inches in length along the lower edges of the wings. The paint on the top half of the decoy displays the artist’s marquee wet-on-wet feather blending to represent a plover’s mottled plumage. Small brushstrokes accurately adorn the crown and gradually increase in size towards the scapulars and back. The maker employed a dynamic freestyle paint application to capture the high-contrast area which begins in a tight formation on the face and opens up as it transverses the throat, breast, belly, and tail. This marbleized feathering is the best seen on any of the Crowell “dust jacket” plover. Outstanding original paint with minimal gunning wear, replaced bill, and minute rub to wing tips.

30

PROVENANCE: Roger Bacon Collection Ted and Judy Harmon Collection, acquired from the above, c. 1977 LITERATURE: Brian Cullity, “The Songless Aviary: The World of A. E. Crowell & Son,” Hyannis, MA, 1992, p. 49, pl. II, and p. 59, exact decoy illustrated. Robert Shaw, Bird Decoys of North America, New York, NY, 2010, p. 160, exact decoy illustrated. John Clayton, Massachusetts Masters: Decoys, Shorebirds, and Decorative Carvings, The Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art, Salisbury University, 2010, p. 86, exact decoy illustrated. Frank Maresca & Roger Ricco, American Vernacular, New York, NY, 2002, p. 33, exact decoy illustrated. William J. Mackey Jr., American Bird Decoys, New York, NY, 1965, p. 64, pl. III, and dust jacket, related plover illustrated. John and Shirley Delph, New England Decoys, Exton, PA, 1990, dust jacket, related plover illustrated. Loy S. Harrell Jr., Decoys: North America’s One Hundred Greatest, Iola, WI, 2000, p. 98, exact decoy illustrated. Stephen B. O’Brien Jr. and Chelsie W. Olney, Elmer Crowell: Father of American Bird Carving, Hingham, MA, 2019, back endleaf, exact decoy illustrated.

Sandwich, Massachusetts, The Songless Aviary: The World of A. E. Crowell & Son, Heritage Plantation of Sandwich, May 10–October 25, 1992. Salisbury, Maryland, Massachusetts Masters: Decoys, Shorebirds and Decorative Carvings, Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art, Salisbury University, LeMay Gallery, October 1, 2010–January 23, 2011. Peoria, Illinois, American Decoy: The Invention, Peoria Riverfront Museum, February 9–April 28, 2019.

EXHIBITED:

$250,000 - $450,000


THE HARMON TURNED-HEAD “DUST JACKET” PLOVER

275a

31


A. ELMER CROWELL 1862-1952 | EAST HARWICH, MA

“To those who knew him and were his neighbors, Elmer Crowell was more than a craftsman. He became a legend during his lifetime. For half a century Elmer Crowell dominated the sporting scene on the Cape. Truly, he was America’s one indispensable decoy maker.” -William J. Mackey Jr., American Bird Decoys

275b The Harmon Feeding “Dust Jacket” Plover A. ELMER CROWELL (1862-1952) EAST HARWICH, MA, C. 1910 11 in. long

The Crowell feeding black-bellied plover form is among the most popular in all of decoy collecting. Mackey’s American Bird Decoys and Delph’s New England Decoys each feature a feeder, and the fourth known example of this esteemed group resides in the Paul Tudor Jones Collection. The Jones decoy set the world record for any shorebird decoy, selling at auction for $830,000. The Harmon example differentiates itself from the Mackey, Delph, and Jones examples with its head canted to the left. This Harmon feeding plover and the Jones example are regarded as the top two feeders. Crowell captures this rare pose perfectly, demonstrating his familiarity with the species. The arched back extends to a tapered neck and round head that is engaged with the space below it, suggesting the pulling of a morsel from the flats. True to the pose, the wing tips and tail are drawn together more closely, in contrast to the splayed tails of its rigmates. The incised primaries extend six inches in length along the lower edges of the wings and continue up the birds back where they resolve with a pronounced hollow between the two wings. Crowell’s exquisite paint techniques laid atop the masterful sculpture create an illusion of realism unrivaled by any other decoy maker. The bird’s surface is finished with Crowell’s best high-contrast marbleized paint along the lower sides with the back showcasing his signature wet-on-wet paint throughout the mottled feather groups. The underside of the tail is cold-stamped “C. W. LOUD.” Outstanding original paint with minimal gunning wear. PROVENANCE: C. W. Loud Rig Seymour Rapaport Collection Ted and Judy Harmon Collection, acquired from the above, c. 1977 LITERATURE:

Brian Cullity, The Songless Aviary: The World of A.

E. Crowell & Son, Hyannis, MA, 1992, p. 49, pl. II, and p. 59, exact decoy illustrated. Robert Shaw, Bird Decoys of North America, New York, NY, 2010, p. 160, exact decoy illustrated. John Clayton, Massachusetts Masters: Decoys, Shorebirds, and Decorative Carvings The Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art, Salisbury University, 2010, p. 86, exact decoy illustrated. Frank Maresca & Roger Ricco, American Vernacular, New York, NY, 2002, p. 32, exact decoy illustrated. Joe Engers, ed., The Great Book of Wildfowl Decoys, San Diego, CA, 1990, p. 53, exact decoy illustrated. William J. Mackey Jr., American Bird Decoys, New York, NY, 1965, p. 64, pl. III, and dust jacket, related plover illustrated. John and Shirley Delph, New England Decoys, Exton, PA, 1990, dust jacket, related plover illustrated. Loy S. Harrell Jr., Decoys: North America’s One Hundred Greatest, Iola, WI, 2000, p. 98, related plover illustrated. Stephen B. O’Brien Jr. and Chelsie W. Olney, Elmer Crowell: Father of American Bird Carving, Hingham, MA, 2019, back endleaf, exact decoy illustrated. Salem, Massachusetts, Tollers and Tattlers: Massachusetts Waterfowl Decoys, 1840s–1940s, Peabody Museum of Salem, October 19, 1989–1992 Sandwich, Massachusetts, The Songless Aviary: The World of A. E. Crowell & Son, Heritage Plantation of Sandwich, May 10–October 25, 1992. Canton, Massachusetts, A. Elmer Crowell: Master of Decoys and More, Museum of American Bird Art at Mass Audubon, September 27, 2008–May 10, 2009. Salisbury, Maryland, Massachusetts Masters: Decoys, Shorebirds and Decorative Carvings, Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art, Salisbury University, LeMay Gallery, October 1, 2010–January 23, 2011. Peoria, Illinois, American Decoy: The Invention, Peoria Riverfront Museum, February 9–April 28, 2019.

EXHIBITED:

$300,000 - $500,000

32


THE HARMON FEEDING “DUST JACKET” PLOVER

275b

33


A. ELMER CROWELL 1862-1952 | EAST HARWICH, MA

“He started out in his teens as a market hunter and a pioneering keeper of live waterfowl. These passions helped him to develop an intrinsic knowledge of waterfowl and other birds. His familiarity with bird behavior and anatomy enabled the master carver to create wood sculptures that bear exceptional likeness to species.” -Stephen B. O’Brien Jr. and Chelsie W. Olney, Elmer Crowell: Father of American Bird Carving

275c The Harmon “Dust Jacket” Plover A. ELMER CROWELL (1862-1952) EAST HARWICH, MA, C. 1910 12 in. long

This plover is second to none in depicting the classic pose and exceptional feathering of the maker’s straighthead models. Its displays particularly balanced form, an extended neck, full head, and a long curved tail in very well preserved condition. In addition to its extensive literature and exhibition history, this exact decoy was chosen for the 1992 Massachusetts Waterfowl Stamp. As seen on the Harmon turned-head decoy, the tail swoops gracefully downward, completing an “S” curve along the lower profile. The incised primaries extend for over six inches along the sides. The raised wing carving continues all the way around and resolves with a hollow between the wings. The surface is finished with Crowell’s high-contrast marbleized paint along the lower sides while the back showcases his signature wet-on-wet paint throughout the mottled feather groups. The carved wing-tips are finished with his crisp and deliberate brushstrokes for these featured feathers. Outstanding original paint with minimal gunning wear.

PROVENANCE: Roger Bacon Collection Ted and Judy Harmon Collection, acquired from the above, c. 1977 LITERATURE: Brian Cullity, The Songless Aviary: The World of A. E. Crowell & Son, Hyannis, MA, 1992, p. 49, pl. II, and p. 59, exact decoy illustrated. Robert Shaw, Bird Decoys of North America, New York, NY, 2010, p. 160, exact decoy illustrated. John Clayton, Massachusetts Masters: Decoys, Shorebirds, and Decorative Carvings, The Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art, Salisbury University, 2010, p. 86, exact decoy illustrated. Massachusetts Waterfowl Stamp, Black-Bellied Plover by A. Elmer Crowell, 1992, exact decoy illustrated. William J. Mackey Jr., American Bird Decoys, New York, NY, 1965, p. 64, pl. III, and dust jacket, related plover illustrated. John and Shirley Delph, New England Decoys, Exton, PA, 1990, dust jacket, related plover illustrated. Loy S. Harrell Jr., Decoys: North America’s One Hundred Greatest, Iola, WI, 2000, p. 98, related plover illustrated. Stephen B. O’Brien Jr. and Chelsie W. Olney, Elmer Crowell: Father of American Bird Carving, Hingham, MA, 2019, back endleaf, exact decoy illustrated.

Sandwich, Massachusetts, The Songless Aviary: The World of A. E. Crowell & Son, Heritage Plantation of Sandwich, May 10–October 25, 1992. Salisbury, Maryland, Massachusetts Masters: Decoys, Shorebirds and Decorative Carvings, Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art, Salisbury University, LeMay Gallery, October 1, 2010–January 23, 2011. Peoria, Illinois, American Decoy: The Invention, Peoria Riverfront Museum, February 9–April 28, 2019.

EXHIBITED:

$180,000 - $240,000 Lot 275c exact bird used as a model for the 1992 Massachusetts Waterfowl Stamp.

34


THE HARMON “DUST JACKET” PLOVER

275c

35


A. ELMER CROWELL 1862-1952 | EAST HARWICH, MA

A

Plover decoy from the maker’s earliest known shorebird rig, c. 1895. Lot 314.

E

Black-bellied plover, c. 1918.

B

The Harmon “dust jacket” black-bellied plover, c. 1910. Lot 275c.

F

Black-bellied plover, c. 1925. Crowell’s smallest model of this species.

In addition to being an artist and craftsman, Crowell was an

The most elaborate shorebird decoys, the “dust jacket”

innovator and businessman, able to carve birds at different

models (B and C), were made for his top patrons. They feature

price points. To this end, he created works with a high degree

bold bodies with thinner necks, carved primary feathers,

of variation, as demonstrated by his black-bellied plover

elaborate paint, and a variety of poses. On the other side of

carvings. The earliest known rig of plover, circa 1895, shows

the spectrum were stout, more modest decoys that were less

a promising decoy carver striving to capture the likeness of

prone to breakage (F). Between these later carvings and the

species in both form and paint (A).

early “dust jackets,” Crowell made many highly accomplished gunning birds (E).

36


PLOVER | C. 1895-1930

C

“Dust jacket� black-bellied plover, c. 1910.

G

D

Running black-bellied plover on carved clamshell, c. 1912.

Due to the banning of all shorebird hunting in 1928, the maker’s decorative plover were made over a longer period of time than his plover decoys, and thus display a distinctive evolution in style. Early decorative works typically feature the most challenging carved detail and a thicker paint application (D). Later decoratives tend to exhibit less carving and a more standardized paint application (G). As the seasoned artisan gained more confidence in his painting system, he cut down the time spent on laborious carving.

Black-bellied plover, c. 1930.

37


A. ELMER CROWELL 1862-1952 | EAST HARWICH, MA

1894

1934

“Elmer Crowell, B. B. Nickerson, J. P. Nickerson and other gentlemen…are making preparations to greet the feathered flocks which are due to arrive in that vicinity next week; this locality is also a good one for partridges and quail...”

“Mr. Crowell is a well known figure on Cape Cod, celebrated as a carver and painter of game birds. His present work is the direct outcome of many years spent in Massachusetts gunning and decoy making. In his work one finds a full expression of the American fowler’s art.”

BOSTON GLOBE

1914

BOSTON GLOBE

“Master Decoy Maker: Elmer Crowell of Harwich Turns Out Decoys and Models of Birds That Both Hunters and Artists Admire”

“A. Elmer Crowell[‘s]…carving places him in the front rank of all decoy makers…”

JOEL BARBER

DAVID S. WEBSTER & WILLIAM KEHOE

Wild Fowl Decoys

Decoys at Shelburne Museum

1949

“Mr. Crowell makes life-size models of all kinds of birds for practical use by sportsmen and they are so true to nature that connoisseurs have in many cases pronounced them the best decoys ever produced by hand in any workshop.”

38

1961

1971

“A. E. Crowell of East Harwich was among the pioneers in birdcarving.”

ALLEN H. EATON

Handicrafts of New England

“He became a legend in his lifetime and dominated the sporting scene on the Cape. Every year more people admire and collect his work...His painting and brushwork command the most loyal and discerning following accorded any decoy maker of the past... the skill with which they [Crowell decoys] were executed, make his work among the best known of any of the carvers.” WILLIAM J. MACKEY JR. & MILTON C. WEILER Classic Shorebird Decoys


A CENTURY OF COMMENDATIONS

1991

1981 “The trio of black-bellied plovers were made in 1913 by Crowell. They were found washed up on shore after the 1938 hurricane. These must be about the best decoys by any carver known.”

SHIRLEY & JOHN DELPH

“Elmer Crowell did it all – and did it well! There is no question that he carved some of the finest shorebird decoys known. His decoys possessed naturalness and have superb detail; his painting can only be described as masterful.”

JOHN S. DUMONT

“Decoys” in Sporting Classics

ROBERT SHAW

Shorebirds: The Birds, The Hunters, The Decoys

1992

“Most collectors, after comparing Crowell’s work with his contemporaries and later decoy models, can recognize his superior ability. The results: higher and higher prices...Elmer Crowell created Americana at its best. I doubt he will ever be surpassed.”

“Anthony Elmer Crowell...is widely recognized as the greatest of all decoy makers…Few works of American craft are as well made as a turn-of-the-century Crowell decoy.”

JOHN M. LEVINSON & SOMERS G. HEADLEY

New England Decoys

1987

2010

Bird Decoys of North America

2019

“The Crowell ‘look’ has probably been the most imitated in the twentieth century and the record smashing prices for the carvings are legendary. It can truly be said that decorative bird carving was invented in the humble workshop in East Harwich and has been the predominant influence on that art throughout the twentieth century.”

BRIAN CULLITY

The Songless Aviary

“Crowell epitomized the New England style of shorebird, split tail and expressive, and set a high-water mark extending from Cape Cod to Cobb Island, Virginia. Working decoys and those to ride the mantle were always carved of the highest caliber, with paint that is consistently unmatched. He set the standard for those of us who followed.”

MARK S. MCNAIR, carver Craddockville, VA

39


APPENDIX A

APPENDIX B

CROWELL’S CARVINGS SELECTED PUBLIC COLLECTIONS

SELECTED EXHIBITIONS

American Folk Art Museum, New York, NY Centerville Historical Museum, Centerville, MA Cincinnati Museum of Natural History and Planetarium, Cincinnati, OH Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn, MI Heritage Museums & Gardens, Sandwich, MA Milwaukee Public Museum, Milwaukee, WI Museum of American Bird Art at Mass Audubon, Canton, MA Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA Peabody Essex Museum (formerly the Peabody Museum of Salem), Salem, MA Shelburne Museum, Shelburne, VT Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art, Salisbury University, LeMay Gallery, Salisbury, MD Wendell Gilley Museum, Southwest Harbor, ME

“Against the Grain—100 Years of the Bird Carver’s Art,” Cincinnati Museum of Natural History and Planetarium, Cincinnati, OH, March 1–April 24, 1983 “Decoys and Mantel Birds,” Peabody Museum of Salem, Salem, MA, March 8, 1987 “Whistling Wings, Whittled Ducks and Wetlands,” Milwaukee Public Museum, Milwaukee, WI, 1996 “Tollers and Tattlers: Massachusetts Waterfowl Decoys, 1840s–1940s,” Peabody Museum of Salem, Salem, MA, 1989–1992 “A. E. Crowell: Artist, Hunter, Naturalist,” Centerville Historical Society Museum, Centerville, MA, June 2–July 19, 1989 “The Songless Aviary: The World of A. E. Crowell & Son,” Heritage Plantation of Sandwich, Sandwich, MA, May 10–October 25, 1992 “A. Elmer Crowell: Master of Decoys & More,” Museum of American Bird Art at Mass Audubon, Canton, MA, Sept 27, 2008–May 10, 2009 “A Bird in the Hand: The Carvings of Elmer and Cleon Crowell,” Heritage Plantation of Sandwich, Sandwich, MA, 2008–2011 “Massachusetts Masters: Decoys, Shorebirds and Decorative Carvings,” Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art, Salisbury University, LeMay Gallery, Salisbury, MD, October 1, 2010–January 23, 2011 “Massachusetts Masterpieces: The Decoy as Art,” Museum of American Bird Art at Mass Audubon, Canton, MA, May 5–September 15, 2013 “Celebrating A. Elmer Crowell and the Harwich Story,” Brooks Academy Museum, Harwich, MA, June 16–October 12, 2013 “Elmer Crowell, Father of American Decorative Bird Carving,” Heritage Museums & Gardens, Sandwich, MA, April 18–October 15, 2015 “Birds of a Feather,” Shelburne Museum, Shelburne, VT, Nov 21, 2015– June 19, 2016 “American Decoy: The Invention,” Peoria Riverfront Museum, Peoria, IL, February 9–April 28, 2019

“His theory was to attract a flock of birds to alight among them, each decoy should be different from the other in the position of its head and neck.” -The Boston Globe, September 20, 1914

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275b

41


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Bids will not be accepted without a completed form, including your signature. Your signature denotes that you have read and agree to be bound by the Terms and Conditions of Sale issued by Copley Fine Art Auctions, LLC for the 2019 Sporting Sale. All bidders holding a valid Massachusetts or out-of-state resale number must provide their certificate or a copy thereof while registering. Failure to do so will subject the bidder to a mandatory 6.25% Massachusetts sales tax on purchases.

Auctions, LLC are requested to supply a bank reference prior to bidding. I authorize you to contact the references below to provide you with any information in their possession including any business or credit experience with me, and I further agree to accept the cost of any charges such references may incur providing such information.

To be sure that bids will be accepted and delivery of lots not delayed, bidders who do not have an account with Copley Fine Art

FINANCIAL REFERENCES

AUCTION REFERENCES

Name of Bank(s):

1. Name of Company:

Address of Bank(s):

Contact Name:

Account Number(s):

Telephone Number:

Name of Account Officer(s):

2. Name of Company:

Bank Telephone:

Contact Name:

Bank Fax:

Telephone Number:

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ABSENTEE/TELEPHONE BID FORM COPLEY FINE ART AUCTIONS, LLC 65 Sharp Street | Hingham MA 02043 Tel: 617.536.0030 | Fax: 617.266.4896 | info@copleyart.com please check one of the following:

ABSENTEE

TELEPHONE

1 All bids must be received at least 24 hours before the start of the sale. We cannot guarantee that bids placed after this time will be accepted. A Copley representative will send you an email to confirm receipt. If you have not received confirmation within 24 hours, please call 617.536.0030. Bids will not be accepted without your signature on this form. 2 This service is offered as a convenience at no charge; however, Copley Fine Art Auctions, LLC will not be held responsible for error or failure to execute bids. Copley staff will try to purchase these lots for the lowest possible price taking into account the reserve and other bids. 3 All bids are subject to the Terms and Conditions of Sale listed in this auction catalog. Further, it is the responsibility of the bidder to check with Copley staff whether a sale room notice relates to any lot which they have listed. LOT #

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a Absentee bids: Absentee bids are executed alternately in competition with the bidders in attendance. It is possible, due to the variations in bidding patterns, that a lot may be won by the audience for the same amount authorized by the absentee bidder. A (+) sign to the right of the bid amount will authorize the absentee bidder to bid one additional bid increment. In the event of identical bids, the first bid received will take precedence. b Telephone bids: If bidding by telephone, the bidder accepts the inherent risks associated with bidding over the telephone. 4 Payment: If successful, you will be contacted. Payment is due immediately upon notification unless arrangements have been made with Copley prior to bidding. A buyer’s premium of 20% of the final bid price up to and including $1,000,000, plus 15% of the final bid price over $1,000,000, will be applied to each lot sold, to be paid by the Buyer to Copley Fine Art Auctions, LLC as part of the purchase price.

CATALOG DESCRIPTION

Print Name:

Signature:

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(required)

BID PRICE US$


OUT-OF-STATE DELIVERY AND AUTHORIZED SHIPPING RELEASE FORM Item(s) will not be released without a signed authorization form from the invoiced buyer. You may include this form with your payment or fax it to 617.266.4896. Payments of cash, check, or bank transfer must be posted to your account before property is released. If Copley Fine Art Auctions, LLC (Copley) is required to deliver the items to a purchaser outside of Massachusetts the sale is exempt from Massachusetts Sales Tax under MGLA 64H ยง6(b) . 1

Copley is obligated to deliver the items out of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

2

Copley is obligated to deliver the items to an interstate carrier as noted below.

3

Title will pass upon delivery to the out of state destination.

4

Please be aware that packing and the payment for shipping is the responsibility of the successful Buyer. Upon making the item(s) available for shipping to the Buyer or its Agent, Buyer shall be responsible for the care and packaging of the item(s). The Buyer shall bear the risk of loss from and after Copley making available such item(s) to the interstate carrier, including the insurance of the item(s) against all risks of loss including without limitation, fire, theft or any other damage to the item(s).

5

Shipping can take up to four weeks and is processed in order in which payment is received.

6

At your option, you may contact one of the interstate carriers listed below, or one of your choosing to arrange for shipping. Carriers pick up frequently at our offices. SHIPPING OPTIONS: The UPS Store #4423 A.J. Yanakakis, Wakefield, MA 781.224.2500 or store4423@theupsstore.com

The UPS Store #2631 Bryan Cook, Kingston, MA 781.585.0602 or store2631@theupsstore.com

Scott Cousins/North South Art Transfer Hand delivery service 978.491.9353 or scottcousins22@aol.com

Boston Pack and Ship* 781.849.8696 or 1.800.400.7204 or info@bostonpackandship.com

Print name:

U.S. Art* 781.986.6500 or 1.800.872.7826 *Specializing in high-value art, large works, and specialty items Place and Manner of Delivery:

(as invoiced)

To an Interstate Common Carrier for delivery out of state:

Shipping Address:

I authorize: to pick up my items(s) (Please specify Name of Common Carrier) Sale Date: Lot #s :

Phone: Email:

Signature: (required)

Internal use only Received by: Signature:

Print Name:

Date:

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To order a copy please call 617.536.0536.

a publication by

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O. Pleissner |

WR

$345,000

J. Lincoln |

WR

$360,000

A.E. Crowell | $661,250

selling the world’s finest DECOYS AND SPORTING ART

E. Osthaus |

Dovetailed Goose |

WR

WR

$235,750

J. Graham |

$810,000

WR

$216,000

C. Rungius | $460,000

WR

Denotes world record for the artist


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Arthur Burdett Frost (1851–1928), Shore Shooting, 1881. This print appeared in Harper’s Weekly on November 19, 1881.


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