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THE DONAL C. O’BRIEN, JR. COLLECTION

OF IMPORTANT AMERICAN SPORTING ART AND DECOYS SESSIONS I-II

J U LY 2 7 | 2 0 1 7

THE SPORTING SALE


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“I happened to come at decoys from all sides - a love of waterfowl, an ardent interest in gunning and decoy making, and an admiration for the decoy as an art form. The result is an irrevocable intertwining that makes it impossible for me to separate or quantify what pleases me in decoys.�1 -Donal C. O’Brien, Jr

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THE DONAL C. O’BRIEN, JR. COLLECTION

OF IMPORTANT AMERICAN SPORTING ART AND DECOYS SESSIONS I-II

5


THE DONAL C. O’BRIEN, JR. COLLECTION

OF IMPORTANT AMERICAN SPORTING ART AND DECOYS

“If I were to pick a pair of decoys to illustrate the art of decoy making, I would pick the Ward Brothers 1936 canvasbacks.” - Donal C. O’Brien, Jr.

DCOB 6

JR

All lots in this catalog bear the O’Brien Collection ink stamp featuring a silhouette of a Ward Brothers 1936 model canvasback. This stamp is exclusive to lots in the O’Brien Collection auction sessions.


THE SPORTING SALE SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

Auction to be held at Hotel 1620 | 180 Water Street | Plymouth, Massachusetts Wednesday, July 26 Dealer Exhibition Cocktail Preview

3:30PM - 5:30PM 5:30PM - 7:30PM

Thursday, July 27 9:00AM - 5:00PM Dealer Exhibition 10:00AM - 12:00PM Auction Preview Auction Sessions I-II of 1:00PM The Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection The Sporting Art of Frank W. Benson: a lecture by Faith Andrews Bedford 4:00PM Friday, July 28 Dealer Exhibition Auction Preview Auction Sessions III-IV

9:00AM - 2:00PM 9:00AM - 11:00AM 11:00AM

CONTACTS THE DAY OF SALE On Site: 617.536.0030

Cinnie O’Brien: 617.501.7544

ABSENTEE & TELEPHONE BIDS Please visit copleyart.com to leave absentee and telephone bids or use the bid forms found in the back of this catalog.

ONLINE BIDDING Live online bidding through Copley Live and Bidsquare

Please review the Terms and Conditions of Sale of page 218 and Important Notices on page 8 of this catalog. For further information please contact us at 617.536.0030. 7


THE SPORTING SALE IMPORTANT NOTICES

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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.

2 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. 3 Consign to our next sale Copley Fine Art Auctions, LLC is accepting consignments for our Winter Sale 2018. 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. 6 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. 7 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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8 Flat art dimensions Please be aware that all flat art dimensions are approximate and are rounded to the nearest quarter inch. 9 Additional images For lots with multiple items and only one shown, please visit copleyart.com for additional images. 10 Decoy stands Please be aware that decoy 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 upon an object from handling or use in the field and over time. This may include, but is not limited to, paint wear, flaking, dings, scratches, checks, cracks, craquelure, age lines, dents, chips, rubs, blunts, cracked or replaced eyes, shot scars, seam separations, popped grain, rust, filler loss, sap, discoloration, and altered rigging and stick holes. Underside of objects may not be described. Varnish, clear coats, waxes, and finishes may not be mentioned. Additional photos for some lots may be available online and by request. 12 Condition description of “as found” The item is sold with any faults and imperfections that may exist. It is the responsibility of the buyer to determine condition. 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 numbers

On site: 617.536.0030 Cinnie O’Brien: 617.501.7544

Auctioneer Peter J. Coccoluto MA License #2428


THE SPORTING SALE

THE DONAL C. O’BRIEN, JR. COLLECTION

OF IMPORTANT AMERICAN SPORTING ART AND DECOYS

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. in his decoy room, New Canaan, CT, c. 1985.

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Front Cover: Lots 28, 16, 6, 13, and 34 Back Cover: Lot 124 Left Schedule of Events: Lots 41 and 42

Catalog by: Stephen B. O’Brien, Jr. Cinnie O’Brien Colin McNair Leah Tharpe Chelsie Olney Amy Lunderville Kate Beckerman Special thanks to: Bob White Glenn Olson Bill Taylor Paul Brisco Katie O’Brien Donal C. O’Brien, III Connan Ashforth Kit Rohn Carrie Thomas Color photography by: Amy Lunderville (decoys) Gavin Ashworth (home interior) Design by: Stephen B. O’Brien, Jr. Amy Lunderville Colin McNair Cinnie O’Brien Eileen Steward © 2017 Copley Fine Art Auctions, LLC. All rights reserved. 10

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. fly fishing in Canada, 1941.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

7

Schedule of Events

8

Important Notices

13

A Tribute to A Gentleman

15

Introduction

19

The Life of Donal C. O’Brien, Jr.

44

Session I: Decoys

168

Session II: Paintings & Works on Paper

210

Carving Results

211

Conservation Organizations

212

Endnotes

213

Bibliography

214

Index of Artists & Makers

216

Buyer Pre-Registration Form

217

Absentee/Telephone Bid Form

218

Terms and Conditions of Sale

219

Authorized Shipping Release Form 11


Gunning rig of divers made by Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. 12


A TRIBUTE TO A GENTLEMAN AND A COLLECTOR by Bob White

I first met Donal at a decoy show out on Long Island, New York, in a town called Babylon. That was back in 1965, so I am proud to say that he and I were friends for a good part of our lives. If I were asked to describe Donal, I could do that with one word. He was a gentleman. It was always clear to me that his attributes of being a courteous, gracious man with a strong sense of honor would fit well with the definition of a gentleman. That was Donal. He was also a fine decoy carver and he had many blue ribbons to prove it. In my opinion, when he was carving, he was as good as anybody at that time. As time went on, he moved away from competition carving, but continued to make great decoys for his own gunning rigs. Donal really loved duck hunting, especially shooting black ducks. He used to shoot black ducks in thirty feet of water off the breakwaters. The ducks would fly right to the walls and drift down with the dropping tide, feeding on marine life that was found in and on the breakwaters. It was a highly successful and exciting form of shooting. He never used a blind, just sat in dark clothes in front of the breakwaters. The ducks never saw him. He was the real thing when it came to carving and shooting. I always respected him for that. As one of the early collectors, he was there when Mackey, Johnson, and Earnest were all picking. Many times he would pick right from the source. Because of his passion for decoys, he went on to assemble one of the best collections in the world and he enjoyed every minute spent doing it. He really loved the old decoys.

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Donal and Katie O’Brien with striped bass, Nantucket, MA, c. 1972.

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INTRODUCTION by Stephen B. O’Brien, Jr.

My uncle, Don, was a force. He was a sportsman, a birder, a conservationist, and a collector. He was a mentor, a friend, and a strong leader who never walked into a meeting that he did not want to run. Don flourished in virtually every arena he entered. An avid duck hunter, he was a crack shot as well as a master dog trainer. Don shot driven grouse on the moors of Scotland and he hunted quail with Presidents. He and his wife, Katie, went birding around the globe, including Costa Rica, Antarctica, Africa, and the Galapagos. He was an observant student of the natural world and put his keen senses to use in the artistry of his bird carving, twice winning the US National Amatuer Championship. A world-class angler, in 1982 Don set an IGFA world record, landing a fortyseven pound Atlantic salmon on the Grand Cascapedia. Concerned about the decline of Atlantic salmon stocks, he went on to chair the Atlantic salmon Federation for over a decade. Fittingly, over twenty years later, Don landed and released an even larger salmon on the very same river. An artist through and through, Don’s mediums were numerous and varied, ranging from the realism of family photography to the vernacular realm of decoy carving. Don and Katie utilized the interior of their house as their greatest canvas. Anyone who has visited the O’Brien home is immediately struck by not only the depth of their collection, but also the tasteful manner in which it is displayed. Carefully selected objects grace their daily living spaces in a down-to-earth fashion. Their historic home, tucked away in the woods along the Mill River in New Canaan, proved to be the ideal counterbalance for Don, away from the pressures of practicing law at Rockefeller Center. During the early days of decoy collecting, Don was amongst the first to recognize decoys as a true American art form, rather than simply utility objects. Following in Joel Barber’s footsteps, he was one of the most important early source collectors. He acquired many carvings from their original context, ensuring impeccable provenance. Consequently his collection, built and curated over six decades, is virtually unrivaled in its breadth and quality. The collection totals over 500 objects and constitutes a remarkably complete array of classic sporting art and decoys. Considered by many to be the finest decoy and American sporting art collection ever assembled, this marks the first time it has been shown publicly since 1981, when selections of the collection were exhibited at the Museum of American Folk Art in Manhattan.

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One of the truly unique things about my uncle was his longevity in the field. By 1944, before the age of ten, he felt compelled to cut a decoy out of his grandfather’s rig and display it on the shelf. Throughout the 1960s, O’Brien was at the epicenter of the field’s formation, along with his friends William J. Mackey, Jr. (1915-1972) and Adele Earnest (1901-1993). At the Mackey sessions in the 1970s, Don proved to be a force to be reckoned with by hammering down the Mackey-Wheeler goose (lot 28). In the 1980s and 1990s he competed with Lloyd Griffith and Jim McCleery, and continued to constantly upgrade until his dying days. Don never stopped to rest on his laurels; his collection was always improving and he continually sought out opportunities to make it better. Over the years, I have learned a tremendous amount from Don about decoys, hunting, fishing, art, and life in general. During my travels I have been fortunate to meet titans of industry, top of the field collectors, highly competent sportsmen, passionate conservationists, and accomplished artists. However, I have never met anyone who meshed together all these callings as seamlessly as Don. He was a transformative figure in many realms and the collecting field was no different. He was a student always and a teacher to many. He rarely refused fellow decoy collectors’ requests to see his amazing collection. He wrote introductions to decoy books for his friends, and assisted the Shelburne Museum in their decoy collection review. He had an acquisitor’s mind and an ambassador’s heart. Copley is thrilled to honor this renaissance sportsman and to offer sessions I and II of this historic collection. Consisting of just over 150 lots, the first two sessions of the O’Brien Collection exemplify the best that the field has to offer. There has never been a decoy collection comprised of better quality birds with such impeccable provenance. Indeed, in these sessions alone, there are well over one hundred published literature references featuring the exact bird or artwork illustrated. Copley welcomes this opportunity to handle these pinnacle works as they head to their next destinations and become key pieces in other important collections. As the last of the great source collections is set to cross the auction block, there will never be another like it again.

Stephen B. O’Brien, Jr. nephew of Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. owner, Copley Fine Art Auctions, LLC

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“I like the whole thing, feeling the cold, picking up the decoys, and when I come home on Sunday and think about what I did on Saturday, I’m revitalized and prepared to go back to the office to be civilized for days.”2 -Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. on his love of duck hunting

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THE LIFE OF DONAL C. O’BRIEN, JR. by Chelsie Olney

In 1934, New Yorker Joel Barber published the

Donal Sr. introduced his four boys to fishing and

seminal book Wild Fowl Decoys. On May 16 of

hunting at an early age. It was during his summers

the same year Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. (1934-2013),

in West Hampton that Donal Jr.’s love for the

one of the world’s greatest sportsmen, collectors,

natural world began to take shape. When Donal

and conservationists, was born. Donal lived an

was five years old he received a Wendell Gilley

extraordinary life dedicated to his passions, and

miniature duck carving as a Christmas gift from

chief amongst his passions was his family (see

his parents. In the 1930s and 1940s Gilley

Family section on page 41). Donal enthusiastically

sold his miniature carvings through Abercrombie

involved his wife and children in his outdoor

& Fitch in New York City for $5 each.

pursuits, especially hunting and fishing which run

Thereafter, on his birthdays and every Christmas,

deep in the O’Brien family.

Donal would ask his parents for a Gilley duck

The eldest son of Donal C. O’Brien, Sr. (1901-1976) and Constance Booty O’Brien (1907-1990), Donal was raised in Manhattan, but spent his childhood summers in West Hampton, Long Island. Along with his three brothers, Dave, Jon, and Steve, he explored the vast bays, beaches, and marshes of eastern Long Island. The sharp contrast between these two distinctly different landscapes played a critical role in Donal’s life. He learned to navigate the fast-paced world of Manhattan, while at the same time pursuing the bounty found in the marshlands and still-wild spaces of the Hamptons. Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. grew up enjoying many of the same outdoor pursuits as his father and grandfather. Donal Sr. spent his summers in East Quogue where he remembers, “We spent most of our time on the bay sailing to Tiana Beach for ocean swimming, trolling for snappers, crabbing, and when I became old enough I would go snipe shooting.”3 Postcard from Donal C. O’Brien, Sr. to his father, Dr. Henry L. O’Brien, discussing shorebird hunting, April 17, 1920.

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Donal recalls“ I would cut them [decoys] out of my grandfather’s [Henry L. O’Brien’s sink-box] shooting rig and then take them into my bedroom-they were my toy trucks and teddy bears.” 6 Dr. Henry Lewis O’Brien (1864-1923) was a turnof-the-century sportsman and collector, as well as a family man. Henry shared his love of hunting and fishing with his nine children, which cultiDonal C. O’Brien, Sr. teaching Donal (left), and his younger brother Dave (right) how to row, West Hampton, 1939.

carving until he had collected all the duck species

vated his grandson Donal’s appreciation of both the natural world and strong family connections. Henry served in World War I, lived in Brooklyn for

Wendell carved. In the 1960s, when legal work brought Donal to Maine, he introduced himself to Wendell and they became very close friends, hunting ducks, grouse, and woodcock together. They also carved and painted together, and Gilley showed O’Brien how to make superior carving knives out of hacksaw blades. According to a 1971 Sports Illustrated profile, Donal Jr. “became interested in ducks when he was five and by the time he was ten and began shooting with his father, he could identify every duck he saw.”4 In the book The Birding Life, O’Brien reflects, “I just loved the way they flew, the way they looked, the different habits they exhibited. I’ve been watching them for so long I can identify every species of duck in North America from a half mile away, just by looking at the way the move through the air.”5 In addition to sporting pursuits, Donal developed a passion for art at a young age, often drawing plover, yellowlegs, curlew, and the various waterfowl found in the surrounding marshes. O’Brien also discovered his love of decoys early in life. In the book The Sporting Life,

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Childhood sketch.

over fifty years, and worked as a dental surgeon. Always fascinated with history and archeology, Dr. Henry L. O’Brien put together one of the largest collections of Indian relics ever assembled on Long Island. Henry would often gather his many children to walk Long Island’s potato fields after a heavy rain to collect Indian arrowheads and other relics that were recently exposed. By 1923 this collection had been gifted by Henry to the Huntington Art Museum, now the Heckscher Museum of Art.


the wife of Dr. O’Brien of 217 Ninth Street, Brooklyn has shot the largest deer of the season at Blue Pond in the Adirondacks and since winning this proud distinction she has been a favorite topic of conversation among guides and huntsmen, who praise her coolness and courage without stint.”7 The article fails to note that at the time of her famous shot Mrs. O’Brien was the mother of four children and pregnant with her fifth. Henry and May Ella passed their love of fishing and hunting on to their nine children, including their son Donal C. O’Brien, Sr. When Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. was sixteen, his family Dr. Henry L. O’Brien hunting out of his sink-box, c. 1900.

moved from Manhattan out to New Canaan, Connecticut, and began to take family trips to

An avid fly fisherman and a hunter, Henry L. O’Brien

Nantucket Island. Similar to West Hampton, the

was a New York state champion clay bird shooter,

vast beaches and marshes of Nantucket provided

on several occasions breaking one hundred straight.

the teen with plenty of new fishing and hunting

In 1897 he entered the fly casting competition at the

opportunities. While living in New Canaan in

prestigious National Sportsmen’s Show at Madison Square Garden and earned second place. Henry was also the president of the Quogue Gun Club, founded in 1902 by summer cottagers who were fond of hunting. The club leased 2,000 acres of surrounding farmland and hunted quail and other game birds. In August he shot shorebirds and then, with the onset of winter, Henry would turn his attention to waterfowling on Long Island’s Great South Bay. Henry’s wife and Donal’s grandmother, May Ella Thall (1870-1927), also shared her husband’s passion for outdoor pursuits. May Ella shot a fourteen-point buck in the Adirondacks which was chronicled on the front page of the New York Journal on November 9, 1896: “Mrs. H. L. O’Brien,

May Ella Thall O’Brien, with record fourteen-point buck.

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At Hotchkiss Donal had the benefit of learning from studio art teacher Thomas P. Blagden (19112010) of the famed artistic family. Tom was a superior teacher who had a great influence on many outstanding young artists, including his sons, Allen Blagden and Thomas Blagden, Jr. In addition to excelling at writing and studio art, Donal also was an active member of the Hunt and Fish Club, the co-editor of Fur, Feather, and Fin, the captain of the undefeated football team, and the Upson Prize winner, “awarded to that student who is distinguished in scholarship, athletics, and citizenship combined.”8 Donal’s 1949 sketch of a great horned owl done at age fifteen.

the 1950s, Donal befriended the artist Roland Clark (1874-1957), then in his mid-70s. An artist himself, the young O’Brien was no doubt impressed by the highly accomplished waterfowl painter. Donal would bring black ducks that he shot on Long Island Sound to the artist to use as models. After attending the Buckley School in Manhattan, Donal went on to attend the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, CT. There O’Brien earned the reputation of being an animal enthusiast, caring for several unusual pets, including a red fox, a baby woodchuck named “Mighty Stumps,” and “Hoots-Babe,” a great horned owl. At one point during his high school career, Donal entered a school speech competition, entitling his speech “Great Horned Owls.” Donal admitted that his speech was going only fair until a friend standing in back of the auditorium released “Hoots-Babe” who flew over the audience and landed on Donal’s forearm. The crowd went wild and Donal was declared the winner of the competition. O’Brien on right, standing in front of a Georges Bank fishing trawler, c. 1953.

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When he was nineteen, Donal crewed on a

commented to the young O’Brien that he should

Georges Bank fishing trawler. The ninety-two foot

consider going into the art or museum field.

boat sailed out of Stonington, Connecticut, setting its

However, it was a chance encounter in 1954 with

nets and hauling up ground fish for several days at a

visiting Smith College student Katherine Louise Slight that would set his course for the rest of his life; O’Brien had met his match. The couple wed in 1956 and were married for fifty-seven years. After graduating from Williams, Donal and Katie headed south to the University of Virginia Law School. Charlottesville, Virginia, in the late ‘50s was a pastoral landscape that still held wild quail and a perfect setting for the nature-loving

Oil painting titled Dressing Fish, Sable Island Bank by Jack Lorimer Gray.

time before returning to port. The long, hard days at sea suited Donal and he loved the thrill of seeing the various kinds of fish the net would bring in. Fueled by his fond remembrances of his time at sea, later in life Donal collected the Jack Lorimer Gray (1927-1981) oil depicting a similar fishing vessel. A member of Williams College class of 1956, O’Brien took every art history course he could since Williams didn’t offer any studio art classes at that time. During his Williams years, professors

O’Briens. It was during his time at law school that Donal first started to create bird carvings. In 1959 Donal launched a successful law career, working for the next fifty-two years as an attorney with the New York firm Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, where he would become a senior partner. During this long, impressive career with a single firm, Donal served the Rockefeller family for five decades and acted as their chief legal council, working with five generations of the family. O’Brien also served as the president of the Rockefeller Trust Company. Through this work O’Brien became involved with numerous charitable organizations that the Rockefeller family supported, such as the New York Blood Center and the National Urban League continually using his strong writing and communication skills to affect positive change.

Virginian Partridge after John James Audubon, lot 136.

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Top left: Training Labrador retrievers. Top right: Donal with a trophy brook trout. Bottom: Setting out a rig of decoys. 24


SPORTSMAN

While his professional life flourished, Donal

National Open Retriever Field Championship, one of

never lost touch with his passion for fishing,

only a handful of retrievers to win it more than once.

hunting, and the natural world. He was an ardent

Donal was a man of few regrets, but occasionally

and accomplished fly fisherman who introduced

he would say that selling Coot was one of them.

Joe Brooks (1901–1972), a fly fisherman and a popular fly fishing writer, to Lee Wulff (1905-1991),

Donal hunted ducks on Long Island Sound

also a fly fisherman and an author, along with

every weekend he could, mostly out of New

being an artist, filmmaker, and conservationist. In

Haven, Stratford, Norwalk, and Stamford, CT.

1963, Donal caught a near-world record brook trout

When the broadbill special hunting season opened

at 10 lbs 8 oz on a fly on the Broadback River in

in January in Connecticut, Donal would often keep

Quebec. He also appeared on an episode of

his duck hunting gear at his Rockefeller Center

the original American Sportsman on ABC Sports

office and sometimes bring his Labrador retriever

fly fishing for large brook trout in Argentina.

in to work with him. A phone call from gunning companion and artist Chet Reneson or fellow

In addition to fishing, Donal loved many varieties,

carver Kenneth Gleason and Donal would vacate

and all aspects of bird shooting, including driven

his seat at the desk to meet up with his friends and

grouse, ruffed grouse, woodcock, and bobwhite

stake out along the breakwaters of the Connecticut

quail. He loved to watch dogs work in the field and

shoreline on his way home from work.

the connection between a good working dog and hunter. Competitive by nature, he began actively training his dogs and competing in local retriever field trials, winning many of them. He became “training friends” with Richard Wolters, famous author of Gun Dog and Water Dog. In 1962 Donal raised and trained a puppy which he named “Whygin Cork’s Coot.” Coot possessed size, speed, explosive energy, and was an excellent marker. After Coot won numerous local trials, Donal knew Coot had the ability to win a national championship. Donal couldn’t afford to campaign him on a young lawyer’s salary so he sold Coot to George Murnane in the mid-1960s for $10,000, more than his annual salary at the time. In 1966 and 1969 Coot won the

Broadbill hunting on the CT coast with Chet Reneson and Kenneth Gleason.

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Donal’s diver gunning rig nearing completion. 26


CARVER

won the U.S. National Championship for his carvings (see page 210 for Competition Carving Results). His daughter Kit remembers, “No matter how long Dad’s day had been, there he would be in the evening, carving and sanding his decoys.”10 In addition to impressing the critical eye of carving show judges, such as decoy collector William Mackey and artist Milton Weiler, his decoys also proved effective with the birds themselves Donal being awarded Best in Show in the Amateur class, working decoy division for his goldeneye at the U.S. National Decoy Show, March 22-23, 1969, Babylon, NY.

in both the hunting and conservation realms. Donal continually shot over the working decoys

Donal’s early fascination with birds, decoy collecting, and hunting gave him an intimate knowledge of avian anatomy which he put to use first drawing and then carving decoys. A 1971 profile in Sports Illustrated states, “While in law school, O’Brien, who had a fondness for painting but no time, seriously started carving decoys because he could whittle away at a head between classes.” In the same article Donal

that he carved and his Atlantic puffin carvings were used to decoy migratory birds back to their ancestral nesting grounds. Biologist Stephen W. Kress explains how the Audubon-funded project successfully reintroduced puffins off the coast of Maine after a century-long absence: “Typically, puffins spend their first two or three years at sea. When they do come ashore in midsummer, they usually land on the loafing ledges of existing col-

describes his carving process: “‘The first thing I do in making a decoy is to draw the duck I have in mind. I’m working on a black duck now, and I decided I wanted a low head. I sketch to scale, and I may make 20 or 30 sketches, all freehand, and usually without a model in front of me. When I get something that appeals to me, I’ll cut it out for my pattern.’”9 Originally between

Donal

carved

miniature

and

six-inch-long life-size.

birds,

Once

he

moved to New Canaan in 1966, he began carving life-size working decoys to use for hunting on Long Island Sound. O’Brien twice

Donal’s merganser drawings on an envelope with his Rockefeller Center mailing address label.

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CONNECTICUT CARVER TIMELINE Albert Davids Laing

(1811-1886)

Charles E. “Shang” Wheeler

(1872-1949)

Willard Clinton Baldwin

(1890-1979)

Louis C. Rathmell

(1898-1974)

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr.

(1934-2013)

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The Barber-Dudley ruddy duck (lot 34). In addition, Marshall taught O’Brien how to hunt broadbills out of layout boats. Many of the corkbodied broadbill decoys they used were made by Wheeler. On one very cold winter day, Marshall tossed into the water a hen broadbill decoy made by Wheeler. When its aging cork body hit the water, it split in to two pieces. Without hesitation, Marshall then turned to O’Brien and said, “Shang made these decoys to hunt over.” Tom and Donal were probably the last hunters to gun over Wheeler’s decoys. Marshall also introduced O’Brien to Louis Rathmell. Donal’s carving was influenced by Rathmell, who not only made some of Connecticut’s finest decoys, but also was an excellent duck hunter. Rathmell’s Donal’s larger-than-life-size puffin carving used on Egg Rock, Maine, 1992.

outstanding handmade working rig of black duck

onies... But Egg Rock had no puffin colony to lure

decoys inspired Donal to make his first working

them in. To solve that problem, we carved and

rig of black ducks and mallard decoys. Shortly

hand-painted some larger-than-life puffin decoys

thereafter Donal would make rigs of widgeon,

and set them out on prominent rock outcrops

broadbill, canvasback, and redhead. Eventually,

where returning puffins would be sure to see

O’Brien collected eleven of Rathmell’s exceptional

them.”11 These decoys worked so well that decoys

black ducks (lots 30 and 31). Thus, Donal’s carving,

are now employed throughout the world by wildlife

hunting, and collecting worlds were always

conservationists trying to restore populations of

inextricably linked.

other native bird species. O’Brien was fortunate to befriend Connecticut carver Thomas C. Marshall, who was a hunting companion of Joel Barber’s, a friend of “Shang” Wheeler’s, and the executor of Wheeler’s estate. Tom was also a source collector of many Connecticut decoys, including works by Albert Laing, Ben Holmes (1843-1912), Shang Wheeler, and Louis Rathmell. O’Brien and Marshall became close hunting friends and Donal ended up purchasing a

O’Brien gunning canvasback pair, c. 1975.

good portion of Marshall’s top decoys, including

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30


COLLECTOR

“The first of the decoy collectors was Joel Barber, but he was shortly followed by a group of New Jersey collectors... who were extremely persistent and competitive with each other. This group consisted of Bill Mackey, King Hemming, Lloyd Johnson and, slightly later, Sommers Headley. The other major post-World War II collectors were George ‘Doc’ Starr, Rab Staniford, and Adele Earnest. We all knew each other, traded decoys back and forth, and had a great time collecting, visiting hunting clubs and lobster shanties up and down the coast.” -Donal C. O’Brien, Jr.’s correspondence with a fellow decoy collector, 1993

The O’Brien Collection, built and curated over

admiration for local professional carvers. Donal

the span of a lifetime, is the last of the great source

often source collected from the makers themselves

collections to come to auction. O’Brien was an avid

or, if the carver was deceased, he would purchase

collector in numerous fields his entire life. Donal’s

rigs directly from the family.

wife Katie reflects, “Don always had a collector’s mentality. He collected books, hats, elephants,

As the decoy market matured, O’Brien acquired

and every interest he had was 120%.” O’Brien’s

exceptional decoys from other early collectors,

collecting predisposition, along with his passion

such as Malcolm J. Fleming, Hal Sorenson,

for carving, hunting, fishing, and all things wild,

Joseph B. French, Lloyd Johnson, Dr. George Ross

inspired him to create a world-class collection of

Starr, Jr., Anthony A. Waring, Winsor White,

decoys and sporting art. O’Brien often acquired works directly from the artists. He was good friends with Ogden Pleissner (1905-1983), who would stop and see O’Brien on his way to New York galleries, giving him the opportunity to purchase some of the artist’s best works before they hit the broader market. In the pursuit of decoys, O’Brien possessed a carver’s sensibility and developed an informed

Ogden Pleissner, Rivermen, lot 124.

31


many hollow shorebirds as did Nantucket. They were popular here because they were easier to carry over long distances.”13 It was this type of informed observation that made Donal an extremely knowledgeable collector. O’Brien was no doubt influenced by Joel Barber’s ground breaking book Wildfowl Decoys published in 1934. In addition, he had special relationships with two of the field’s most prominent figures, Adele Earnest and William J. Mackey, Jr. Earnest was one of the six original founders of the Museum of American Folk Art in Manhattan Folger rig of hollow eskimo curlew and golden plover, Nantucket, MA, c. 1850.

and the author of two important books, Folk Art In America and The Art of the Decoy. Discussing Earnest in the foreword of The Art of the Decoy,

Harold Evans, Robert Congdon, Robyn Hardy,

Mary Black, past director of the Museum of Early

William H. Purnell, Jr., Robert White, Thomas C.

American Folk Arts (the original name of the

Marshall, Paul Brisco, Ronald Swanson, Alan Haid,

Museum of American Folk Art) states, “I have

Joseph Tonelli, King Hemming, and Harold Haertel,

come to rely on her extensive knowledge and

among others.

artistic judgements. Her qualifications as an authority on folk art are impressive. She has

An article about the O’Brien Collection states

for fifteen years been the leading source for

that Donal “brings a most practiced eye to

museums and collectors of American folk

decoy collecting. The art of decoy making is almost

sculpture.”14 O’Brien recognized Earnest’s gift-

entirely American, which is one of the attractions

ed eye early on and was a frequent visitor to her

to O’Brien.” Donal’s expertise also extended to

Stony Point Art Gallery. Over the years he became

the early Nantucket decoy makers. In the 1960s,

very good friends with Adele and they completed

Donal and Katie were sourcing Nantucket shore-

numerous trades and transactions.

12

birds by going door to door. While driving around

32

the island’s cobblestoned streets at slow speeds,

Donal also had a good working relation-

O’Brien would look in the windows for possible

ship with pioneer decoy collector and author

finds. Around the same time Nantucket native

William J. Mackey, Jr. Known to be an astute and

Allan Royal was picking up shorebird decoys at the

shrewd decoy trader, Mackey found a formidable

Nantucket dump and O’Brien realized that it was a

opponent in O’Brien. In one of his decoy entries

race to save these treasures of the past. He once

O’Brien describes a major trade with Mackey that

told The Nantucket Journal, “No area produced as

involved ”...an Eskimo Curlew; 5 Isaac Camp-


his presence further known to a burgeoning decoy collecting field when he acquired the MackeyWheeler goose (lot 28) for $8,000, a worldrecord price for a waterfowl decoy at the time. According to his wife Katie, “When Don recognized a great decoy example, he went after it. He was always trading and upgrading.” This is not to say that O’Brien bought or bid on objects with reckless Burr feeding plover, lot 46.

bell shorebirds and 6 Plovers from the Webster

abandon. Donal was simply confident enough to go after pinnacle works knowing that he could always sell lesser works to fund these premier acquisitions.

Collection; I received this Gelston, a Crowell Sanderling, a Burr feeding plover (lot 46), a

An example of Donal’s upgrading is the way

Crowell Lesser Yellowlegs on a clam shell and a

in which he came to acquire the only known

Brodson Plover.”

Samuel Fabens (1814-1899) merganser pair. On one of his many trips up to Mount Desert Island, Maine,

The publication of two important books in 1965

Donal befriended a man who owned a gas station

by Mackey and Earnest would permanently

along the way. The gentleman also happened to be

alter decoy collecting. As rival collectors,

a decoy collector. Donal was immediately attracted

they possessed two distinct approaches to

to a racy, hollow pair of mergansers with ship-like

decoy collecting. Mackey’s book, American Bird Decoys, an overview of regions, styles, and makers, contrasts with Earnest’s, The Art of the Decoy, which focuses on history, species, and the decoy as folk art. O’Brien, a competitor by nature, realized that these two major books would open up the field to new collectors. The seven years following the books’ publications proved to be a golden collecting period that would change forever following Mackey’s death in 1972. In 1973, the first of the eight session sales of the Mackey Collection by Richard A. Bourne Co., Inc. would forever change the way decoys were valued and marketed. Donal, already a major figure among decoy collecting circles, made The Mackey-Wheeler goose on the cover of Bourne’s catalog, lot 28.

33


keels. On each subsequent visit Donal attempted to get the gentleman to sell him the birds, but to no avail. Never one to be deterred, one day Donal filled the back of his jeep with fifteen good decoys and headed up to Maine. After completing the long journey, he pulled into the gas station and asked the gentleman to come out to his jeep. Whereupon he lowered the tailgate and asked the man, “Hypothetically, would you be willing to trade the merganser pair for the birds here?” The gentleman looked quizzically at Donal and asked, “All of them?” “Yes, all of them,” said Donal. “Why sure!” was the gentleman’s reply. Donal then stated, “Great, so we have established that the mergansers are for sale. Take whatever you think is a fair deal.” The gentleman then proceeded to pull out several Ward Brothers, Masons, and other good decoys to complete the trade. To underscore the equity of the transaction, the gentleman left several of O’Brien’s offered trade birds in the jeep. In the fall of 1981, seventy-three classic decoys from the O’Brien Collection were chosen to be displayed at the Museum of American Folk Art in a special exhibition entitled The American Decoy: Folk Sculpture from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. In response to the exhibit, North American Decoys raved: “Not since a selection of the best of William J. Mackey’s great decoy collection went on public display at the old IBM building in New York City in 1966, has there been as fine and important a personal collection as that of Donal and Katherine O’Brien, at the Museum of American Folk Art on 49 West 53rd Street. The Mackey collection was chosen because it was the biggest and the best. The O’Brien collection was select-

34

ed from among several comparable fine decoy collections because it had a high percentage of ‘classics’ and was most representative of the art of the decoy as practiced along the principal wildfowl flyways. And we can assume that some of the decoys appeared in both exhibitions as the O’Briens acquired some of the best decoys in the Mackey collection.”15 The guest curator of the exhibit, folk art collector and author Jeff Waingrow, reflects in The Clarion, “Often the loveliest carvings are also the best preserved...These are among the finest shorebird decoys in existence.”16 That exhibition was the last time that the O’Brien Collection was displayed to the public until these auction sessions. O’Brien’s knowledge in the collecting field was widely recognized among his peers. In 1983 he was asked to write the introduction for Clune Walsh, Jr.’s book Waterfowl Decoys of Michigan and the Lake St. Clair Region and in 1988 he was asked to write the foreword for Barney Crandell’s book Decoying: St. Clair to the St. Lawrence. O’Brien’s connoisseurship led him to collect many of the best carvings by individual makers, which are also considered the top decoys for their regions. Many consider the Charles E. “Shang” Wheeler Canada goose (lot 28) to be not only the most famous decoy by Wheeler, but also one of the most important Connecticut decoys known to exist. The John English (1852-1915) pintail (lot 13) is the only drake known in original paint. The Elmer Crowell (1862-1952) turned-head “dust-jacket” plover (lot 16) is the best of the three featured on the cover of Mackey’s iconic book. Many of the


region’s top collectors consider the Tom Chambers (1860-1948) wood duck (lot 6) to be the greatest Canadian decoy ever to surface. The Lee Dudley (1861-1942) ruddy duck (lot 34) is perhaps the most celebrated North Carolina decoy held in private hands. O’Brien continued to acquire impressive carvings during his later collecting years. Some highlights include a spectacular tucked-head Bunn yellowlegs and Ward canvasback pair (lots 41, 42) purchased at the McCleery auction, a Nathan Cobb black duck, a pristine Ferdinand Bach canvasback drake, and a stellar Ward Brothers mallard drake (lot 44). Lot 16.

Lot 28.

Lot 6.

Lot 13.

Lot 34.

35


36


CONSERVATIONIST

depth and breadth of his passion for conservation, “Birds are my passion, but I care about everything from blue claw crabs to African elephants, and I want to protect them all.”18 As a result, O’Brien’s conservation work spanned decades and involved a myriad of non-profit organizations, including Henry David Thoreau once wrote, “In wildness is

twenty-three years of public service for the

the preservation of the world.” A similar mindset

state of Connecticut’s conservation councils (see

seems to have guided O’Brien’s life. Whether he

Conservation Organizations on page 211).

was caring for young wild animals, carving decoys,

fishing, hunting black ducks on frigid mornings,

Always leading by example, O’Brien’s tireless

or bird watching with his family, communing with

efforts on behalf of the National Audubon Society

nature in some form was a constant throughout

have made a profound lasting impact. Donal began

Donal’s life. Though O’Brien was an ardent hunter,

a twenty-five-year involvement with Audubon by

he also understood the need for conservation.

joining the National Board of Directors in 1976,

American folk art expert Robert Shaw writes,

becoming the Chairman of the Board in 1983. After being re-elected to the Board of Directors in 1991,

“Mr. O’Brien’s love of hunting and preserving

Donal again became Chairman of the Board in

natural habitats went back to the roots of the

1994. He acted as Chairman for fifteen years in all.

American conservation movement. There was

so much slaughter going on in the late 1800s

While on the Board, Donal served as the

and early 1900s in commercial and sport

chair of Audubon’s Capital Campaign for the

hunting. That’s where conservation started —

renovation of the new headquarters building and

to try to save birds. Like Theodore Roosevelt,

the co-chair of Audubon’s monumental Strategic

Mr. O’Brien was somebody who moved in

Planning Committee of 1995, tasked with “con-

the high tiers of society but his play time

necting people with nature.” To fulfill this goal,

was in the outdoors and he wanted to

O’Brien led the effort to establish a network of

ensure that such experiences were available to

Audubon state offices, made up of twenty-seven

future generations.”17

new state programs and forty-three new Audubon

co-

centers, to bridge the gap between the national by

level and Audubon’s 465 grassroots, community-

his steadfast determination and enthusiasm,

based chapters. One of these centers, the Pine

have done a tremendous amount to protect the

Island Audubon Center and Sanctuary on North

natural world. Donal’s own words illustrate the

Carolina’s Outer Banks, was named in his honor.

O’Brien’s

conservation

efforts,

propelled

37


The story of how the Pine Island Audubon

Areas (IBAs). IBAs are the vital places where birds

Center came to be illustrates Donal’s strength

winter, nest, and refuel along their migratory paths.

as a leader. The Pine Island Club was one of

O’Brien understood that protecting these spots

the great duck clubs on Currituck Sound in

was critical to bird conservation. Donal, an early

North Carolina. Donal became friends with the

supporter of global conservation, raised people’s

owner of the Pine Island Club, Earl Slick, who was

awareness of the four main migratory flyways

planning to sell the club. Mr. Slick, who owned

in order to promote the concept of Important

Slick Airways, ended up donating the club, and

Bird Areas. David Yarnold, President and CEO

its 5,000 acres of marshlands and two miles

of the National Audubon Society, observes in

of beachfront, to Audubon thanks to Donal’s

Donal’s obituary, “Birds don’t know about state

persuasion. Mr Slick kept a life estate on the

boundaries. Donal was always urging Audubon to

club, but graciously offered Audubon the use

think the way birds see the world – to think about

of the club, along with its guides, housekeepers,

large-scale conservation.”19

cooks, and staff, for fundraising purposes. Donal and Glenn Olson brought many future Audubon

“Donal was peerless. His vision for Audubon to

donors there, including David Packard, founder

organize itself by the ‘flyways’ that birds’ use

of Hewlett Packard, Stephen Bechtel of The Bech-

was an idea that was ahead of its time. It’s not

tel Corp, Morris Doyle, Chairman of the Irvine

now; it’s the heart of our strategy and Donal

Foundation, and many others.

will always be its champion.”20 - David Yarnold, President and CEO of the

Donal’s most impactful conservation effort at

National Audubon Society

Audubon was the creation of Important Bird

So far Audubon has identified and protected over 2,800 IBAs, which encompass 400,000,000 acres in the United States, thanks in large part to Donal’s visionary efforts. When asked about his most important contribution to Audubon, Donal responded: “From an organizational standpoint, supporting our strategic plan’s goal to create state offices in all fifty states. From a programmatic standpoint, leading the effort to create Important Bird Areas (IBAs) across the United States.”21   

Hunting at the Pine Island Club on the Currituck Sound, now the 5,000-acre Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Sanctuary and Audubon Center in Corolla, North Carolina. From left to right: Donal, Glenn Olson of Audubon, Norman “Ike” Livermore (Secretary of Resources in California under Governor Ronald Reagan), Sherman Chickery (former President of California’s Fish & Game Commission), David Packard, and Morris Doyle.

38

O’Brien recognized that Audubon’s organizational expansion and the IBA program would both need significant resources to be successful. In order to accomplish this, he and his wife Katie turned


Audubon’s annual bird-counting Birdathon into a legendary fundraising event. Like many of Donal’s endeavors, this event aligned with his own natural passion. He and Katie were always astute observers and recorders of birds; any family trip was always a birding trip. In a 2003 tribute speech to Donal, natural resources lawyer Donald Carr quipped, “Only John James Audubon ever compiled a combined life list of birds seen, and birds shot, greater than Donal O’Brien!”22 The Birdathons are a way to connect people with nature and other birders, while raising money for the birds’ preservation all at the same time.

The 2010 Audubon Medal Presentation Ceremony. From left to right: National Audubon’s CEO, David Yarnold, Audubon’s Chairman of the Board, Holt Thrasher, and Donal C. O’Brien, Jr.

In

2010

one

of

the

highest

conservation

For thirty-five consecutive years The O’Brien

accolades was bestowed upon O’Brien when he

Family Birdathon, led by Donal and Katie’s efforts,

was named the 51st recipient of the Audubon

has been a major Audubon fundraising event,

Medal. The Audubon Medal has been awarded

bringing in over $3 million dollars. Donal once

to only fifty-four past recipients, including

reflected, “Katie and I have a secret to our success-

Rachel Carson, Walt Disney, Robert Redford, Aldo

ful Birdathons. Our leader is always a member of

Leopold, Jimmy Carter, Ted Turner, Dan Lufkin,

Audubon’s field staff. They are the real heroes of

Paul Tudor Jones II, Louis Bacon, and Laurance S.

our Birdathons.”23 The O’Brien family continues to

Rockefeller. At the presentation ceremony O’Brien’s

participate in this annual event.

tireless efforts were lauded, “Donal is a true hero

of American conservation. He persuades through

In 2003 he concluded fifteen years as Chairman

passion and leads through action.”24 Donal acted as

of Audubon’s National Board of Directors. To

a mentor to many people and helped them embrace

commemorate his years of dedication, O’Brien’s

conservation.

friends and colleagues raised $5 million in order to create the Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Chair in Bird

“What matters most is two things: your

Conservation and Public Policy. This chair

passion and your leadership. Your passion

promotes Audubon’s bird conservation mission

because you made all of us around you care

throughout the United States and the Western

more than we ever thought we could, and

Hemisphere. The fully-endowed chair operates

commit more than we ever intended. Your

independently of the national chapter in order to

leadership because with you at the helm we

ensure that Audubon always maintains a public

all achieve things that we never thought,

policy program.  

never dreamt were possible.”25 - Paul Tudor Jones II, 2010 Audubon Medal Presentation

39


Of

the

many

conservation

organizations

that Donal has championed over the years, the Atlantic Salmon Federation was especially dear to his heart. In 1982, Donal set an IGFA fly fishing world record, landing a forty-seven pound Atlantic Salmon on sixteen-pound-test tippet on the Grand Cascapedia River, in Quebec, Canada. Concerned with the critical status of the Atlantic Salmon species, Donal, in his typical fashion, rolled up his sleeves and got directly involved in the fight for its preservation. In 1979 O’Brien was first elected to the Atlantic Salmon Federation’s Board of Directors. He became the Chairman of the Board in 1994, stepping

The organization focuses on community-based

down eleven years later in 2005. In 2002

conservation, biodiversity protection, and promoting local cultural heritage in Canada and around the globe. Donal served as the U.S. Board Chair for twenty-five years and was recognized for his contributions by being named Chairman Emeritus and Honorary Director. At QLF O’Brien displayed his talent for assessing people’s skills and then delegating the appropriate person to take on specific projects. For example, James N. Levitt, 2014 Chairman of the Board of Directors recalls, “In 1985, I was honored to be asked to join the U.S. Board, and then summoned by U.S. Board Chair Donal (“Don”) O’Brien, himself a force of and for nature, to coordinate a

O’Brien was honored for his contributions to

strategic planning effort that led to the appointment of

salmon conservation when he received the

Larry Morris as QLF president.”27

Atlantic Salmon Federation’s T.B. “Happy” Fraser Award, “ the federation’s top conservation award

“Donal’s love of birds is abundantly manifest-

created in 1975 in memory of T.B. Fraser, who was

ed in the flock of people for whom he served

past president and general manager of Atlantic

as a mentor. I was one of those lucky birds. He

Salmon Association.”

transformed me from a fledgling into an adult,

26

passionate advocate.”28 O’Brien was also very passionate about the

- Lucy R. Waletzky M.D., Board Member

Quebec-Labrador

Emerita of National Audubon Society

Foundation,

founded

by

one of his best friends, Robert “Bob” A. Bryan.

40


FAMILY

on Audubon Connecticut’s Board of Directors for well over a decade, serving as Chairman from 2008-2010. When Donal was the National Audubon Chairman, Katie was actively involved as well, accompanying him to the quarterly meetings around the country. In Donal’s New York Times obituary his daughter Connan comments on her father’s ability to balance his work and love of the outdoors with his devotion to family life: Donal, Katie, and their four children on the porch at their Nantucket house, 1980.

“Somehow everyone felt like they were get-

Together Donal and Katie raised four children, Don,

ting his undivided attention. It wasn’t always

Connan, Kit, and Carrie, and have eleven grand-

about carrying the gun or carrying the rod. It

children. Their house in New Canaan, with the Mill

was having a pair of binoculars and having a

River flowing beside it, provided an ideal place for

flower book and identifying flowers, or reading

Donal and Katie to pass along their love of nature

a book and maybe having a little nap along

to their children. They devoted almost all vacations

the way and just being present.”30

as a young family to fishing, hunting, and birdwatching excursions, first with their children

Donal often involved his whole family in his

and over time with grandchildren as well. In The

pursuits. For example, his carving was always

Sporting Life Donal explains, “It taught our children

done right in the midst of the family, either at

both self-reliance and teamwork and values - it

the kitchen table or in the cellar. Their 1740 co-

gave them an environmental ethic as it exposed

lonial-era house has cracks in the floorboards.

them to the wonders of nature.”

As a result of

Through these cracks, the children would look

their upbringing, all four children are passionate

down into the cellar where their father was

conservationists as well.

carving and drop notes to him.

Katie’s unwavering support enabled Donal to lead

Donal and his son, Don, went upland shooting or

two careers at the same time, that of a lawyer and

duck hunting most fall and winter weekends. Don

a conservationist, in addition to being an involved

reflects: “What impressed me most about my

father and an avid outdoorsman. A remarkable

father was his keen eye. He was an observant

conservationist in her own right, Katie has been

person. Whether it was training a dog, rigging

29

41


decoys, hunting preparation or going trout or salmon fishing, he did so many different things well. He was very much a person that lived in the present and looked towards the future. I can never really remember him talking about past trips or past adventures. It was always the activity that we were engaged in at the time and the incredible sense of enthusiasm that he injected into that activity.”32 Don’s sister Connan recalls, “Don was such a pal to his dad. They developed a special relationship because they had so many of the same

O’Brien’s painting class with some of his grandchildren, Nantucket, MA, c. 2006.

interests. Dad got so much joy from being a father

One of Donal and Katie’s greatest conservation

and sharing that father/son bond with Don.”

impacts has been nurturing four children who would become environmental stewards as well.

Lovingly referred to as “Pop” by his eleven grand-

The enthusiasm and passion that they brought to

children, Donal derived tremendous happiness

conservation causes shaped their children’s

from being a grandfather. Donal’s youngest

interests. Their eldest daughter Connan is currently

daughter Carrie remembers: “Dad’s enthusiasm

serving as the Chairman of the Board of Audubon

for the natural world and the art world was

Connecticut in her mother’s footsteps. Don is a

undeniably great, and watching the pleasure he

longtime Board member of the National Wildlife

got from blending those two worlds was infectious.

Refuge Association and has served as Vice-Chair-

When the grandchildren were involved it was that

man and Chairman. Kit dedicates countless hours

much more strongly felt! One memory that stands

to bird banding every spring and fall to further avi-

out is a “painting class” he gave on the screened

an research efforts. Carrie worked for the Trustees

porch in Nantucket to various grandchildren. Every-

of Reservation on Nantucket for years, helping to

one got two canvases, one for a snowy owl perched

preserve the island so dear to her father and the

on a post and one for a mallard flying into the marsh.

rest of her family.

It was a magical moment: grandkids, family, nature,

42

mixing paints. It didn’t get much better than that

Donal’s conservation work was tireless right up

for him. He loved it all so much. Anything involving

until the end. Glenn Olson, the Donal C. O’Brien, Jr.

the grandchildren made him beam with happiness.

Chair in Bird Conservation and Public Policy, who

He encouraged all of us to see the beauty in the

continued to work with Donal on Audubon issues

natural world and capture it in some medium. Our

until his dying days recounts, “He lived a very full

etchings, monoprints, carvings, silkscreens, and art

life. He never lost his belief that he could influence

projects are all scattered throughout the house in

outcomes.”33 By following his passions with seem-

Nantucket. He inspired this love of nature and art

ingly boundless energy throughout his life, Donal

in all of us.”

made a tremendous contribution to the world.


“There were always fish, birds, and ducks. These three animals, along with the dogs, came hand in hand with the name O’Brien. They came in every form: painted, photographed, live, stuffed, frozen, cooked, but mostly wood! I think by the age of five or six, we could probably identify the species’ name of every decoy in the house. Our education in birds, wildlife, and nature pretty much continued wherever Dad led us. Our family’s love for nature is just part of who we are and it is woven into the fabric of each day.”31 -Kit Rohn, Donal’s daughter

43


44


THE DONAL C. O’BRIEN, JR. COLLECTION

OF IMPORTANT AMERICAN SPORTING ART AND DECOYS

SESSION I DECOYS JULY 27 | 1PM

45


CHARLES WALKER 1873-1954 | PRINCETON, IL

1 High-Head Pintail Drake CHARLES WALKER (1873-1954) PRINCETON, IL, C. 1930 18 1⁄4 in. long

This elegant, hollow Illinois River decoy hails from the Skinner Rig, which represents Walker’s best work. It features a turned head with pronounced cheeks, a long neck, raised wings, and the maker’s finest feather-combed paint. The underside retains its original weight, remnants of a painted “22,” and has an incised “JL” from the John Lellos Collection. Originally this bird was commissioned by Henry Gross, an early member of the Princeton Game and Fish Club. This was one of six pintails acquired by George Skinner in 1956 when he purchased Gross’s share in the club. This is the first time that this decoy has been offered for sale in over 40 years. Outstanding original paint with even gunning wear, minor touch-up to hairline cracks and some putty in reset neck. PROVENANCE:

Henry Gross Rig George Skinner Rig, acquired from the above John Lellos Collection

46

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection, acquired from the above, c. 1975 LITERATURE: Donna Tonelli, Fish and Fowl Decoys of the Great Lakes, Atglen, PA, 2002, front dust jacket cover and p. 180, rigmate illustrated. Stephen O’Brien, Jr. and Julie Carlson, Masterworks of the Illinois River, Boston, MA, 2005, p. 54, rigmate illustrated. Quintina Colio, American Decoys, Ephrata, PA, 1972, p. 10, rigmate illustrated. Sotheby’s and Guyette and Schmidt, American Waterfowl Decoys: The Distinguished Collection of Dr. James M. McCleery, New York, NY, 2000, p. 49, lot 77, related example illustrated. William J. Mackey, Jr., American Bird Decoys, New York, NY, 1965, p. 185, plate 149, rigmate illustrated.

$30,000 - $40,000


1

47


2 Great Horned Owl Decoy

HERTERS MANUFACTURING INC. (EST. 1890s) WASECA, MN, C. 1940 20 in. tall

This life-size owl decoy was designed for crow hunting. Original paint with gunning wear and an area of discoloration on back. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: Robert Shaw, Bird Decoys of North America, New York, NY, 2010, p. 100, similar decoy illustrated. William J. Mackey, Jr., American Bird Decoys, New York, NY, 1965, p. 198, plate 156, related example illustrated. Peter Johnson and Alf Wannenburgh, The World of Shooting, Lausanne, Switzerland, 1987, pp. 259-261, exact decoy partially illustrated.

$1,000 - $1,500

2

3 Crow Decoy

CHARLES H. PERDEW (1874-1963) HENRY, IL, C. 1910 15 in. long

An early three-piece model displaying an elongated tail, glass eyes, and a turned head. This perfected Perdew form has been emulated many times over the last half-century. Original paint with even wear. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: Quintina Colio, American Decoys, Ephrata, PA, 1972, p. 48, related decoy illustrated.

$800 - $1,200

3

48


MARKHAM RIG C. 1900 | MARKHAM, ON

4

4 Rare Turned-Head Redhead Drake

MARKHAM, ONTARIO, CANADA, C. 1900 15 3â „4 in. long

This hollow decoy, with its turned head and crisp paint, is one of the finest Markham Rig birds to have surfaced. This sterling example was never rigged. Near mint original paint with a few minor rubs. PROVENANCE: John Delph Collection

Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection $10,000 - $15,000

49


THOMAS CHAMBERS 1860-1948 | WALLACEBURG, ON

5 Canada Goose

THOMAS CHAMBERS (1860-1948) WALLACEBURG, ONTARIO, CANADA, C. 1915 22 in. long

The bottom board of this hollow decoy is branded “THOS. CHAMBERS MAKER” and “J.T. McMILLAN.” James T. McMillan was a St. Clair Flats Shooting Company member from 1913-1946.

PROVENANCE: James T. McMillan Rig Bernard Crandell Collection Julie Hall Collection, acquired from the above, c. 1975 Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

The remarkably good condition of this decoy can, in part, be explained by the sparse usage of goose decoys due to the historically low number of this species in the region. Less than a dozen of these geese in original paint are known today. This Chambers goose displays exemplary form and paint and ranks as one of the maker’s best works.

LITERATURE: Patricia Fleming, Traditions In Wood, Ontario, Canada, 1987, p. 141, exact decoy illustrated. Julie Hall, “Collectible Decoys--- An Endangered Species?” North American Decoys, Spanish Fork, UT, Summer 1976, p. 20, exact decoy illustrated. Bernard W. Crandell, Decoying: St. Clair to the St. Lawrence, Erin, ON, 1988.

Of this exact detail, Julie Hall, a folk art historian, wrote in 1976, “Such a beautiful prize in original paint with complete history is a rare find today.” Original paint with gunning wear. A tight check along left side, and a ding to top of tail.

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$15,000 - $20,000


5

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THOMAS CHAMBERS 1860-1948 | WALLACEBURG, ON

Thomas Chambers (1860-1948) was born in Toronto, Ontario. He hunted ducks and geese as a boy and sold his excess quarry to the market. He was tapped by sportsmen including George Warin (1830-1905) (see lot 7), to be the Keeper at the newly founded St. Anne’s Club on the Chenal Ecarte, which flows into Lake St. Clair. In 1900, when the nearby St. Clair Flats Shooting Company was looking for a new Keeper they asked Warin, a respected founder and a former president of their club. Warin recommended Chambers, which end up being fortuitous for all parties. Incorporated in 1874, the St. Clair Flats Shooting Company, also known as the Canada Club, was one of the oldest hunting clubs on Lake St. Clair. Chambers lived on the

Photo courtesy of the Brisco Collection.

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club’s property in an adjacent house with his wife and three children. Chambers would remain the club’s Keeper until his retirement in 1943. According to author Bernard Crandell, it was during this time as manager that the 6 foot 1 inch Chambers earned the nickname “King Tom.” Over the years, the membership of the Canada Club gradually changed from all Canadians to predominantly Americans. In addition to his work for the Club, Chambers was also one of the nation’s most accomplished carvers. His decoys were in high demand from the members and even during the Depression a rig of a dozen Chambers decoys would command the unheard of price of $75.


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THOMAS CHAMBERS 1860-1948 | WALLACEBURG, ON

6 Wood Duck Drake

THOMAS CHAMBERS (1860-1948) WALLACEBURG, ONTARIO, CANADA, C. 1900 15 in. long

Many, including Canadian decoy scholar Paul Brisco, consider this carving to be the finest Canadian decoy known. Co-authors Clune Walsh, Jr. and Lowell Jackson as well as Paul Johnsgard chose this exact decoy for the cover of their respective books Waterfowl Decoys of Michigan and the Lake St. Clair Region and The Bird Decoy: An American Art Form. Few decoys have evoked the mystique of this wood duck, which has never before been for sale. As a wood duck, it is among the greatest carvings of this species from any region, alongside peak examples by Henry Keyes Chadwick (1851-1938), A. Elmer Crowell (1862-1952), Joseph W. Lincoln (1859-1938), and The Mason Decoy Factory (1896-1924). One of only two Chambers wood ducks known to exist, this example with its exceptional form, paint, and condition is the better of the two. Chambers captured the likeness of species of the summer duck effectively, paying special attention to the subtle nuances of the duck’s bill, eyes, and crest. Well over 100 years old and a testament to Chambers’ craftsmanship, the decoy maintains nearly invisible neck and bottom board seams. Ironically, the bottom board was fashioned from a food-packing crate and is branded on the underside “GUARANTEED BY H.J. HEINZ.” The bird is also branded “GEO. M. HENDRIE.” George M. Hendrie was a St. Clair Flats Shooting Company member from 1889 to 1943. This iconic bird held a special place in O’Brien’s collection, residing in his den alongside his dove-tailed Canada goose. Outstanding original paint with minor gunning wear, working putty to a sliver under the bill, and minimal touch-up under tail. PROVENANCE: George M. Hendrie Rig Private St. Clair Flats Shooting Company Member Ronald Swanson Collection, acquired from the estate of the above, c. 1970 Donal C. O’Brien Jr. Collection, acquired from the above, c. 1978

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LITERATURE: Paul A. Johnsgard, The Bird Decoy: An American Art Form, Lincoln, NE, 1976, front dust jacket and pl. 108, exact decoy illustrated. Clune Walsh, Jr. and Lowell G. Jackson, Waterfowl Decoys of Michigan and the Lake St. Clair Region, Detroit, MI, 1983, plate 16 and on the slipcase cover of the deluxe edition, exact decoy illustrated. Laurence Sheehan, The Sporting Life, New York, NY, 1992, p. 79, exact decoy illustrated. Jackson Parker, “O’Brien Classic Decoys on Display at Museum of American Folk Art,” North American Decoys: Wildfowl Carvers and Collectors News, Spanish Fork, UT, Spring/Summer 1982, p. 32, exact decoy illustrated. Jeff Waingrow, “The American Decoy: Folk Sculpture from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Donal C. O’Brien, Jr.,” The Clarion: America’s Folk Art Magazine, Fall 1981, p. 32, exact decoy illustrated. Loy S. Harrell, Jr., Decoys: North America’s One Hundred Greatest, Iola, WI, 2000, pp. 10-11, exact decoy illustrated. EXHIBITED:

New York, New York, The Art of the American Decoy: Folk Sculpture from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Donal C. O’Brien Jr., Museum of American Folk Art, September 3– November 8, 1981. $80,000 - $120,000


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GEORGE WARIN 1830-1905 | TORONTO, ON

7 Canada Goose

GEORGE WARIN (1830-1905) TORONTO ISLAND, ONTARIO, CANADA, C. 1880 23 1⁄2 in. long

George Warin (1830-1905) and his brother James (18321884) first apprenticed to the highly esteemed boatbuilder Robert G. Renardson before taking over his business in 1873. As a testament to their craftsmanship, a Warin-built racing scull won the 1881 and 1882 world championships. George Warin used his exceptional boatbuilding skills to carve decoys which “set a new standard of excellence in the region and were imitated by dozens of later Toronto and southwestern Ontario craftsmen,” according to historian Robert Shaw. The Warins created lightweight, hollow decoys that were perfectly suited to the calm waters of southwestern Ontario. Warin was also the first president of the St. Clair Flats Shooting Company and his recommendation positioned Thomas Chambers (1860-1948) as the club’s keeper (see lots 5-6).

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A fine hollow carving by this accomplished boat builder and club founder. The wet-on-wet blended paint applied to this decoy is among the finest seen on any goose carving. Outstanding original paint with even gunning wear, and minor darkening to area on back, minimal touch-up to reset neck and sliver under bill. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: Laurence Sheehan, The Birding Life, New York, NY, 2011, p. 90, exact decoy illustrated.

$15,000 - $25,000


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JOHN R. WELLS

1860-1953 | TORONTO, ON

8

8 Early Swimming Pintail Drake

JOHN R. WELLS (1860-1953) TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA, C. 1890 18 in. long

An exceptional pintail drake with an exceedingly rare swimming posture. Very few decoys from this region are found in this position. The hollow body features expertly comb-blended paint. This is one of the finest pintail decoys to come out of the region. Excellent original paint with two rubs to left side, a reset tail chip and neck seam have minor touch-up. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

$12,000 - $18,000

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JOHN R. WELLS

1860-1953 | TORONTO, ON

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9 Canvasback Hen

JOHN R. WELLS (1860-1953) TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA, C. 1900 16 in. long

A hollow canvasback with superb head and bill carving and the maker’s finest blended and combed paint. O’Brien described this Wells as having “the best paint job I have seen on a hen can.”

Laurence Sheehan, The Sporting Life, New York, NY, 1992, p. 83, exact decoy illustrated.

Branded on the underside “J.R.W. MAKER” and painted “G.R.C.” In excellent original paint with light gunning wear.

New York, New York, The Art of the American Decoy: Folk Sculpture from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Donal C. O’Brien Jr., Museum of American Folk Art, September 3– November 8, 1981.

PROVENANCE:

$8,000 - $12,000

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

EXHIBITED:

LITERATURE: Sotheby’s and Guyette and Schmidt, American Waterfowl Decoys: The Distinguished Collection of Dr. James M. McCleery, New York, NY, 2000, p. 39, lot 60, related decoy illustrated.

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LOREM IPSUM

???????

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TORONTO TURNSTONE C. 1880 | TORONTO, ON

10 Calling Ruddy Turnstone

TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA, C. 1880 16 3⁄4 in. tall including base

Ontario shorebird decoys are rare and turnstone are considered the prize. This decoy, with its bright red back and crisp geometric black and white plumage patterns, is a standout from the region. The underside retains its two wire legs and seldom seen original thigh wrappings. Describing the acquisition of this top pick out of the group, O’Brien noted, “I wish I had bought the few others in this extraordinary rig.” In original paint with gunning wear, including flaking around legs.

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PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: Patricia Fleming, Traditions In Wood, Ontario, Canada, 1987, p. 17, exact decoy illustrated. $12,000 - $18,000


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ROBERT “BOB” WHITE B. 1939 | TULLYTOWN, PA

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11 Ruddy Duck

ROBERT “BOB” WHITE (B. 1939) TULLYTOWN, PA, 1968 11 in. long

In 1968 this drake in winter plumage won Best in Show in the Professional class for a working decoy at the U.S. National Decoy Show, Babylon, N.Y. on Long Island. The judges included William J. Mackey, Jr., Milton C. Weiler, Jr., Malcolm Fleming, Robert Birchier, and Donald R. Eckleberry. In the same competition, O’Brien took Best in Show in the amateur class for a miniature decorative depicting flying black ducks. In excellent original paint with minimal wear. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: Peter Johnson and Alf Wannenburgh, The World of Shooting, Lausanne, Switzerland, 1987, pp. 259-261, exact decoy illustrated. EXHIBITED: Babylon,

$1,000 - $2,000

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New York, U.S. National Decoy Show, 1968.


ROBERT “BOB” WHITE

B. 1939 | TULLYTOWN, PA

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12 Black Duck

ROBERT "BOB" WHITE (B. 1939) TULLYTOWN, PA, C. 1997 16 in. long

A snuggle-head Delaware River decoy. The underside is well marked and features a hand-painted bobwhite quail, only found on decoys from the maker's personal rig. In original paint with light gunning wear and a reset tail feather chip. PROVENANCE: Robert "Bob" White Rig Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection, acquired from the above LITERATURE: Laurence Sheehan, The Birding Life, New York, NY, 2011, p. 93, exact decoy illustrated.

$1,000 - $2,000

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JOHN ENGLISH

1852-1915 | FLORENCE, NJ

John English (1852-1915) was the “the innovator of the Delaware River decoy,” yet his existence alluded collectors for years and information about his life is just now being discovered. English’s importance as the Father of the Delaware River school of carving is documented by virtually every authority from the region. Robert “Bob” White, describes English as “the ultimate Delaware River carver.” Author Kenneth L. Gosner notes, “The work of John English set a standard against which other Delaware River makers have been measured and compared ever since. Indeed, for many collectors, the English style is the Delaware River style.” The most immediate recipients of English’s technique were his sons, Dan (1883-1962) and John “Jack,” Jr. (b. 1881). They both used his patterns and carved with a measure of their father’s distinctive style. However, according to Harrison Huster and Doug Knight in Floating Sculpture, “John’s decoys are much lighter than those made by either of his sons. His carving is more refined and classic.”

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“John English of Florence, New Jersey no doubt produced some of the finest decoys ever used on the Delaware River,” writes Delaware River historian Alan Linkchorst. He continues, “His delicate hollow lures, with their lightly raised primaries and carefully incised wing and tail carving, clearly showcase his skills as one of the most talented makers of floating sculpture. If he wasn’t the innovator of the Delaware River style of decoy, he certainly was its early champion. Yet in the early recorded annuls of the history of decoys and their makers, due to the gifted brushstrokes of an avid duck hunter from nearby Trenton, his contributions were nearly overlooked.” In Linkchorst’s article on John English the author explains “one of the reasons why John English decoys were so late in being identified by collectors could be attributed to the fact that a large rig of John English decoys were acquired by John Dawson [1886-1959], a hunter from nearby Trenton, who repainted the rig in bold geometric patterns. While this unplanned collaborative effort produced a rig that is highly sought by collectors, it undoubtedly reduced the number of John English decoys in original paint.”


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JOHN ENGLISH

1852-1915 | FLORENCE, NJ

13 The English Pintail Drake JOHN ENGLISH (1848-1915) FLORENCE, NJ, C. 1880 17 in. long

English was in complete command of his artistry when creating this decoy, which features a razor sharp upturned bill, subtle mandible and nostrils, and the precise raised wing-tip carving that marks the region’s style. The form and paint of this high-head pintail exhibit English’s best efforts and work in perfect harmony with one another. English’s elegant work shows a repetition of design. His pintail hens feature a strong V-shape to the raised wing tips that are repeated in the paint pattern. Until the discovery of this bird, English’s thoroughness and intent had not been seen in a pintail drake. The S-shaped curve of the head, neck, and breast is echoed perfectly by the white, chestnut, and gray paint patterns in that area. This smooth S-shape is repeated again in the green speculums and their white and orange accents. While there are several known John English pintails painted by John Dawson (1889-1959), this decoy remains the only pure English pintail drake to have surfaced. Several fine pintail hens have come to market, including a graceful hen that set the world record auction price for any decoy from the region, selling for close to a quarter of a million dollars. Bob White recalls that Lloyd Johnson (1910-1965) was “the first to realize that Delaware River birds were collectible and that while Mackey, Barber, and Earnest would visit him to buy decoys, he kept the best for himself.” This pintail was one that Johnson kept.

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This drake pintail sat front and center on a prominent shelf in O’Brien’s home as a bookend to the Barber-Dudley ruddy duck (see lot 34). Along with the Phillips and Long pintail drakes by A. Elmer Crowell (1862-1952), this is perhaps the most important pintail ever to come to market. In excellent original paint with minimal gunning wear and a tight age line in sprig tip. PROVENANCE: Lloyd Johnson Collection Morton M. Hanson Collection, acquired from the estate of the above Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection, acquired from the above LITERATURE: William J. Mackey, Jr., American Bird Decoys, New York, NY, 1965, p. 127, plate vi, English-Dawson illustrated. Allen Linkchorst, “John English,” Decoy Magazine, March/ April 2000, Lewes, DE, front cover and pp. 8-12, exact decoy illustrated. Robert H. Boyle, “The Art of Deception,” Audubon, May-June 2002, New York, NY, P.47, exact decoy illustrated.

$80,000 - $120,000


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JOHN BLAIR, SR.

1842-1928 | PHILADELPHIA, PA

“John Blair and John English set standards of excellence that have been used as a pinnacle for all other carvers of the Delaware River school to seek, perhaps to come close to matching, but never to attain in all the years that have since come and gone.� -Harrison Huster and Doug Knight, Floating Sculpture

Photo courtesy of the Blair Family

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JOHN BLAIR, SR.

1842-1928 | PHILADELPHIA, PA

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14 Wigeon Drake

JOHN BLAIR, SR. (1842-1928) PHILADELPHIA, PA, C. 1880 14 3⁄4 in. long

This hollow wigeon is not only one of the finest Delaware River decoys known to exist, but also one of the finest widgeon decoys from any region. Decoys of this form are known as the “Classic Blairs” and are considered the most desirable of the entire Philadelphia School of carving. Branded on the underside “G. STRICKLER” and twice stamped “SGH” for Somers G. Headley. Somers Headley owned at least two other related examples which he sold to top collectors, including James M. McCleery. Headley retained this as his favorite. In excellent original paint with some darkening to flaking.

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PROVENANCE: G. Strickler Rig Somers Headley Collection Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection, acquired from the above LITERATURE: Loy S. Harrell, Jr., Decoys: North America’s One Hundred Greatest, Iola, WI, 2000, p. 179, exact decoy illustrated. Copley Fine Art Auctions, The Sporting Sale 2016, Plymouth, MA, 2016, lot 268, related example illustrated.

$50,000 - $70,000


JOHN ENGLISH

1852-1915 | FLORENCE, NJ

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15 Redhead Drake

JOHN ENGLISH (1852-1915) FLORENCE, NJ, C. 1880 14 in. long

A hollow cedar decoy with sharp clean lines. Given the decoy’s age and its gunning history, one would be hard pressed to find a better example. While several John English redheads repainted by John Dawson have come to market, this is one of only a few in original paint. Excellent original paint with minimal gunning wear, minimal touch-up to minor tail chip.

PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: Sotheby’s and Guyette and Schmidt, American Waterfowl Decoys: The Distinguished Collection of Dr. James M. McCleery, New York, NY, 2000, p. 22, lot 8, English-Dawson example illustrated.

$10,000 - $15,000

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Hunter with rig of shorebird decoys including “dust jacket” birds set up on Bassing’s Beach with Harry V. Long’s White Head in the background, 1922 74


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

16 The Turned-Head “Dust Jacket” Black-Bellied Plover A. ELMER CROWELL (1862-1952) EAST HARWICH, MA, C. 1900 11 1⁄2 in. long

This decoy, along with it’s two rigmates, are prominently featured on the dust jacket cover of William J. Mackey, Jr.’s seminal volume American Bird Decoys. Less than eighteen examples from these early Crowell shorebird hunting rigs are thought to exist. A feeding plover from one of these rigs holds the world record for any shorebird decoy, selling for $830,000. This turned-head example with its prime condition, bold form, animated posture, and impeccable provenance is the best of the Mackey trinity of true “Dust Jacket” plover. This decoy shows tremendous carving detail, with raised heart-shaped wings, fully carved primaries that join at the tips, and deeply plunged wing separation. The underside is cold-stamped “C. W. LOUD” and bears the Mackey Collection ink stamp. Discussing this decoy along with the two others, Mackey writes, “Elmer Crowell at his best. These Black-bellied Plovers [sic] combine his detailed carving of wing and tail feathers with the bold, true paint pattern that made him a master.” In excellent original paint with even gunning wear. PROVENANCE: William J. Mackey, Jr. Collection Honorable J. William Middendorf II Collection Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

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LITERATURE: William J. Mackey, Jr., American Bird Decoys, New York, NY, 1965, dust jacket and color plate III, exact decoy illustrated. Richard A. Bourne Co. Inc., Very Rare and Important American Bird Decoys, from the Collection of the late William J. Mackey, Jr. of Belford, New Jersey, Hyannis, MA, Session IV, August 21, 1973, lot 286, exact decoy illustrated. Quintina Colio, American Decoys, Ephrata, PA, 1972, p. 48, exact decoy illustrated (image reversed). Laurence Sheehan, The Sporting Life, New York, NY, 1992, p. 80, exact decoy illustrated. Jackson Parker, “O’Brien Classic Decoys on Display at Museum of American Folk Art,” North American Decoys: Wildfowl Carvers and Collectors News, Spanish Fork, UT, Spring/Summer 1982, p. 34, exact decoy illustrated. Jeff Waingrow, “The American Decoy: Folk Sculpture from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Donal C. O’Brien, Jr.,” The Clarion: America’s Folk Art Magazine, Fall 1981, p. 30, exact decoy illustrated. EXHIBITED:

New York, New York, The Art of the American Decoy: Folk Sculpture from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Donal C. O’Brien Jr., Museum of American Folk Art, September 3– November 8, 1981. $125,000 - $175,000


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

17

17 Miniature Yellowlegs

18 Miniature Curlew

A. ELMER CROWELL (1862-1952) EAST HARWICH, MA, C. 1930 3 1⁄2 in. tall

A. ELMER CROWELL (1862-1952) EAST HARWICH, MA, C. 1930 4 3⁄4 in. tall

A miniature yellowlegs with pronounced cheek carving and blended paint. The base features Crowell’s rectangular stamp. In excellent original paint with minimal wear and minor flaking to top of bill.

A miniature curlew with superb blended paint. The base features Crowell’s rectangular stamp. In excellent original paint with minimal wear.

PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

$1,000 - $1,500

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18

PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

$1,000 - $1,500


A. ELMER CROWELL

1862-1952 | EAST HARWICH, MA

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19 Semi-Palmated Sandpiper

A. ELMER CROWELL (1862-1952) EAST HARWICH, MA, C. 1910 6 1⁄4 in. long

The semi-palmated sandpiper is not only the smallest of Crowell’s decoys, but also among his rarest working models. The maker has captured the likeness of this species better than any other decoy maker. Crowell’s lesser yellowlegs carvings are commonly misrepresented as smaller species. This carving is one of a half-dozen Crowell peeps known with strong provenance. “ELMER CROWELL E. HARWICH MASS” is written on the underside.

PROVENANCE: Lloyd Johnson Collection Morton M. Hanson Collection, acquired from the above Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection, acquired from the above LITERATURE: Quintina Colio, American Decoys, Ephrata, PA, 1972, p. 50, rigmate illustrated. Byron Cheever, North American Decoys, Heber City, UT, Fall 1972, p. 20, exact decoy illustrated.

$10,000 - $15,000

This is one of two Crowell peeps acquired by early collector Lloyd Johnson, the other resides in the collection of Paul Tudor Jones II. Strong original paint with gunning wear and reset original bill.

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

Born in East Harwich, MA, Elmer Crowell possessed an early fascination with ornithology and hunting. These passions led to a career as a market gunner in the late 1800s. In 1898 Dr. John C. Phillips Jr. (1876-1938), 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 resulting decoys are some of the most desirable bird carvings ever made. 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

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the world, Crowell’s meticulous workmanship and exquisite painting have never been surpassed. According to authors Levinson and Headley, “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.”


20 Life-Size Flying Tern

A. ELMER CROWELL (1862-1952) EAST HARWICH, MA, C. 1925 18 1⁄2 in. wide, 11 1/4 in. long

An extremely rare, flying tern carving. This curvaceous early work renders the aerial beauty of the species to perfection. It was Crowell’s interpretive ability to capture the likeness of birds and waterfowl that defined him as the father of American bird carving. The anatomy of the bird is nearly flawless with a sharp “V” split tail, accurately carved inset feet and bill, and strong blended feather paint.

PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: Dr. John C. Phillips, A Sportman’s Scrapbook, Boston, MA, 1928, p. 33. John M. Levinson and Somers G. Headley, Shorebirds: The Birds, The Hunters, The Decoys, Centreville, MD, 1991, p. 59.

$15,000 - $25,000

In A Sportsman’s Scrapbook Dr. John C. Phillips talks about Crowell’s creations, “Elmer used to decorate Wenham Camp with all sorts of mythical looking birds, whittled out and suspended from the ceiling so that they revolved solemnly around if you blew a puff of smoke their way.” Original paint with minimal wear, touch-up to reset tail feathers, feet and inside back corner of left wing.

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JOHN DILLEY

QUOGUE, LONG ISLAND, NY

21 Willet

JOHN DILLEY QUOGUE, LONG ISLAND, NY, C. 1890 14 in. long

O’Brien owned eighteen Dilley decoys over the decades; this rare willet was his favorite. Regarding the rig of six Dilley shorebirds that he first acquired, William J. Mackey, Jr. recounted in Classic Shorebird Decoys: A Portfolio of Paintings, “These decoys had real class and were envied by fellow collectors such as Joel Barber and Edgar Burke, who left my house walking on air because I had given them each a snipe.” When referring to Dilley shorebirds in American Bird Decoys, Mackey states, “There is no question that the detailed, stylized painting is unsurpassed. They are beautiful examples from the hand of a fastidious workman.” Starting with clean lines and a solid form, Dilley applied some of the finest representations of plumage ever demonstrated. Using a two-tiered paint technique, he was able to imply detail without carving or painting every feather. This grand willet displays the maker’s best paint and deep S-shaped wing carving that sweeps back to resolve under the tail. Its large size and sophisticated carving set it apart from the field. In excellent original paint with minimal gunning wear. PROVENANCE: Adele Earnest Collection Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

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LITERATURE: Laurence Sheehan, The Birding Life, New York, NY, 2011, p. 95, exact decoy illustrated. Laurence Sheehan, The Sporting Life, New York, NY, 1992, p. 80, exact decoy illustrated. Peter Johnson and Alf Wannenburgh, The World of Shooting, Lausanne, Switzerland, 1987, pp. 259-261, exact decoy illustrated. Jackson Parker, “O’Brien Classic Decoys on Display at Museum of American Folk Art,” North American Decoys: Wildfowl Carvers and Collectors News, Spanish Fork, UT, Spring/Summer 1982, p. 30, exact decoy illustrated. Jeff Waingrow, “The American Decoy: Folk Sculpture from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Donal C. O’Brien, Jr.,” The Clarion: America’s Folk Art Magazine, Fall 1981, p. 31, exact decoy illustrated. EXHIBITED:

New York, New York, The Art of the American Decoy: Folk Sculpture from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Donal C. O’Brien Jr., Museum of American Folk Art, September 3– November 8, 1981. $25,000 - $35,000


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22 Red Knot

JOHN DILLEY QUOGUE, LONG ISLAND, NY, C. 1890 9 3â „4 in. long

This robin snipe, in bright breeding plumage with carved wings and excellent stippled and blended paint, exemplifies this celebrated maker's best efforts. According to Shorebirds authors Levinson and Headley, this exact decoy "shows a red knot with feather painting so realistic that you want to reach out and touch it." Original paint with minor gunning wear. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: John M. Levinson and Somers G. Headley, Shorebirds, Centreville, MD, 1991, p. 71, figure 5-14, exact decoy illustrated. Adele Earnest, The Art of The Decoy, New York, NY, 1965, pp. 60 and 180, plate 41 and 156, related example illustrated.

$12,000 - $18,000

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23 Dovetailed Dowitcher MASSACHUSETTS, C. 1900 9 in. long

This charming dowitcher was made by perhaps the greatest of the unknown makers, the same maker as the dovetailed geese (see p. 30) and other exceptional shorebirds. O’Brien noted, “Of all the ‘unknown’ makers, this is the mystery maker I would like most to identify.” Referring to a rigmate plover in Massachusetts Masterpieces, author and curator Gigi Hopkins writes, “...its meticulouslycrafted dovetail joint which allows the head to be slipped on and off...this was a cabinetmaker enjoying his art.” The body and head of this little decoy are joined by a dovetail. This elaborate construction would allow the decoy to be disassembled when not in use, in order to help protect the bill and neck from breakage. The form features incised

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wings, shoulder separation, a long mortise-and-tenon bill, and concave tail carving. The dry surface features elaborate paint techniques from head to tail. The underside bears faint ink script that is largely illegible. Four rigmates are held in the Shelburne Museum in Vermont. Original paint with minimal gunning wear. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: Adele Earnest, The Art of the Decoy, West Chester, PA, 1965, p. 104, plate 93, rigmate illustrated. Gwladys Hopkins, Massachusetts Masterpieces, Lincoln, MA, 2016, p. 54, plate 20, rigmate illustrated.

$12,000 - $18,000


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24 Primitive Yellowlegs

NEW GRETNA, NJ, C. 1880 10 in. long

An early yellowlegs from a rig of three that was celebrated by Earnest and Mackey in their respective volumes. The long, thin neck on a raised neck seat is topped with a spherical head with an iron bill. Appears to be original paint with gunning wear and flaking. Bill is loose in crack through head. PROVENANCE: Adele Earnest Collection Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection LITERATURE: Adele Earnest, Folk Art In America, Exton, PA, 1984, p. 134, rigmate illustrated. William J. Mackey, Jr., American Bird Decoys, New York, NY,

1965, frontispiece and p. 20, plate 6, rigmate illustrated. Laurence Sheehan, The Sporting Life, New York, NY, 1992, p. 80, exact decoy illustrated. EXHIBITED: New York, New York, The Art of the American Decoy: Folk Sculpture from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Donal C. O’Brien Jr., Museum of American Folk Art, September 3– November 8, 1981.

$4,000 - $6,000

87


OBEDIAH VERITY

1813-1901 | SEAFORD, LONG ISLAND, NY

25 Rare Tern

OBEDIAH VERITY (1813-1901) SEAFORD, LONG ISLAND, NY, C. 1880 13 in. long

The late 19th century brought about a change in millinery fashion. At that time, a hat decorated with feathers and wings was considered the height of couture. Though popular for fashion, terns were evidently no culinary delight. Market hunters received only ten dollars per hundred birds and thus terns were not widely hunted. For this reason, old working tern decoys are virtually non-existent, with Long Island being one of the few areas where rigs have been found. A rare life-size decoy, this tern is one of the finest examples of the species by any maker. In July of 1999, a rigmate set an auction record for any Obediah Verity decoy at that time. Two of this bird’s rigmates are illustrated on page thirty-one of Henry Fleckenstein’s book, Shore Bird Decoys. The caption states that they “were made by Obediah Verity of Seaford, Long Island, New York - c- 1880. Only one rig of twelve are known to have been made by Obediah.” This rare rig was passed down through the extended Verity family of Seaford to Nelson Verity (1854-1947). Nelson Verity is known to have guided Yankee baseball greats, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, in South Oyster Bay. In early working repaint typical of the rig, gunning wear, and minor loss to right wing tip.

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PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: Quintina Colio, American Decoys, Ephrata, PA, 1972, p. 74, related example illustrated. Joe Engers, ed., The Great Book of Wildfowl Decoys, San Diego, CA, 1990, p. 103, rigmate decoy illustrated. Joe Engers, ed., “1999 Year In Review,” Decoy Magazine, Lewes, DE, 1999, front cover, p. 9, rigmate illustrated. Robert Shaw, Bird Decoys of North America, New York, NY, 2010, p. 131, similar decoy illustrated (caption reversed). Henry A. Fleckenstein, Jr., Shore Bird Decoys, Exton, PA, 1980, p. 31, plate 34 and color plate 72, rigmates illustrated. William J. Mackey, Jr., American Bird Decoys, New York, NY, 1965, p. 58, plate 38, related example illustrated. Timothy Sieger, The Decoys of Long Island, Water Mills, NY, 2010, pp. 32 and 36, similar examples illustrated. Richard P. Baldwin, The Verity Family of Long Island, New York, Southold, NY, 2000, p. 126.

$18,000 - $24,000


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26 Early Yellowlegs

JOEL BARKALOW (1853-1931) FORKED RIVER, NJ, C. 1875 11 1⁄4 in. long

An elongated and folky decoy by one of New Jersey's earliest makers. One of approximately twelve known to have originated from the Morton M. Hanson Collection. In original paint with even gunning wear. PROVENANCE: Morton M. Hanson Collection Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection

26

LITERATURE: North American Decoy, Spanish Folk, UT, Fall 1979, back cover, exact decoy illustrated. Henry A. Fleckenstein, Jr., New Jersey Decoys, Exton, PA, 1983, p. 164, plates 390, 391, rigmates illustrated. Sotheby's and Guyette and Schmidt, American Waterfowl Decoys: The Distinguished Collection of Dr. James M. McCleery, New York, NY, 2000, p. 147, lot 368, rigmates illustrated. Gene Kangas, “Rootheads and Knotheads,” North American Decoys: Wildfowl Carvers and Collectors News, Spanish Fork, UT, Winter 1976, p. 29, rigmate illustrated. James R. Doherty, Classic New Jersey Decoys, Louisville, KY, 2011, p. 171, plate 369, rigmate illustrated.

$3,000 - $5,000

27 Peep

LONG ISLAND, C. 1890 5 3⁄4 in. long

Measuring less than six inches in length, this little sandpiper is perhaps the smallest decoy in the O'Brien Collection. The petite body features simple but meticulous stippled paint similar to that of the Verity family. Original paint with some stippled touch-up where worn to bare wood, replaced bill. PROVENANCE:

27

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Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection

$1,000 - $2,000


“The decoy that I liked best of all in Bill Mackey’s collection.” - Donal C. O’Brien, Jr.

The singularity of this Canada goose separates it from most pinnacle geese by other makers. The one-of-a-kind nature of this decoy, combined with it’s important Mackey-O’Brien provenance, place this as one of the most prized goose decoys in existence.

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CHARLES E. “SHANG” WHEELER 1872-1949 | STRATFORD, CT

28 The Mackey-Wheeler Goose

CHARLES E. “SHANG” WHEELER (1872-1949) STRATFORD, CT, C. 1935 30 in. long

This racy goose decoy is perhaps the grandest Connecticut decoy known. No other Shang Wheeler goose exists that is remotely like it. In both form and paint the bird exhibits bold features with subtle refinements. This description could also describe the bird’s maker, “The Gentleman Carver from Connecticut,” himself. Charles Edward “Shang” Wheeler is widely recognized as the most celebrated bird carver from Connecticut. While his predecessor Albert Laing (1811-1886) is credited with originating the Connecticut style, and Benjamin Holmes (1843-1912), Laing’s successor, made early gunning decoys of exceptional quality, it was Wheeler who took the craft to the next level. He introduced innovative carving and painting techniques and created everything from sandhill cranes to sailfish. Shang, as everyone called him, was an enigmatic figure: oysterman, politician, boxer, cartoonist, public speaker, conservationist, and world-renowned decoy carver. Not surprisingly, O’Brien was drawn to Shang, with whom he shared many passions. Author Dixon Merkt remarked on Wheeler’s life: “Wheeler’s concern with the conservation of nature eventually led him into politics. Over the years he had come to know and admire Teddy Roosevelt, and as a politician he adopted Roosevelt’s brand of progressive Republicanism. Himself a skilled ornithologist, former cowboy, and avid sportsman, Roosevelt had made conservation one cornerstone of his political platform. Wheeler followed in his footsteps. During several terms in the Connecticut General Assembly he led the campaign to pass anti-pollution and wildlife conservation legislation.” Unlike T.R., Wheeler had no driving ambitions for public office. He went into politics because he wanted to clean up Connecticut’s harbors and rivers. ...His ties to Roosevelt and later to Herbert Hoover might have lead him to high government office, if that had been his goal. But Wheeler was satisfied with the life he had built for himself around Stratford. He had many good friends; his work kept him outdoors; and each year he had time for hunting and fishing trips.” A look at Wheeler’s carving career reveals that in 1923 he arrived on the competition carving scene with a bang. A newly formed conservation group led by Joel Barber called the Anti-Dusker Society sponsored one of the first decoy shows in the country in Bellport, Long Island. A carving competition held at the event was geared towards the hunters in attendance to further advance the concept of shooting over decoys. 92

The inaugural event attracted amateur and professional carvers from near and far, and it was Wheeler who took home top amateur honors. Joel Barber stated that Wheeler’s model had demonstrated “the highest development yet reached in the American art of decoy carving.” According to Merkt, “Wheeler carted off first prize at Bellport because he had introduced a new style to decoy painting.” This grand goose, measuring 30 inches in length, is a full four inches longer than the maker’s typical goose pattern. The hollow body features Wheeler’s most intricate carving with crisp raised wings and pronounced separation down the back, leading forward to a recessed neck seat. The head is turned 45 degrees to the left and features full cheeks and carved bill detail. The surface was finished with the maker’s subtle and masterful feather painting. The bottom board features the Mackey Collection ink stamp. In excellent original paint with even gunning wear, original reset bill with touch-up. PROVENANCE: William J. Mackey, Jr. Collection Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection LITERATURE: Richard A. Bourne Co., Inc., Very Rare and Important American Bird Decoys from the Collection of the late William J. Mackey, Jr., of Belford, New Jersey, Hyannis, MA, Session V, July 10, 1974, front cover and lot 501, exact decoy illustrated. William J. Mackey, Jr., American Bird Decoys, New York, NY, 1965, p. 70, plate 50, exact decoy illustrated. Quintina Colio, American Decoys, Ephrata, PA, 1972, p. 34, exact decoy illustrated. Laurence Sheehan, The Birding Life, New York, NY, 2011, p. 95, exact decoy illustrated. Dixon MacD. Merkt, Shang: A Biography of Charles E. Wheeler, Spanish Fork, UT, 1984, p. 77, color plate XXII, exact decoy illustrated. Peter Johnson and Alf Wannenburgh, The World of Shooting, Lausanne, Switzerland, 1987, pp. 259-261, exact decoy illustrated. EXHIBITED:

New York, New York, The Art of the American Decoy: Folk Sculpture from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Donal C. O’Brien Jr., Museum of American Folk Art, September 3– November 8, 1981. $80,000 - $120,000


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CHARLES E. “SHANG” WHEELER 1872-1949 | STRATFORD, CT

29

29 Classic Black Duck

CHARLES E. "SHANG" WHEELER (1872-1949) STRATFORD, CT, C. 1940 17 1⁄4 in. long

This hollow pine decoy is one of “Shang” Wheeler’s finest gunning models. Wheeler authority Dixon Merkt was so enthralled with this exact decoy that he chose to illustrate it twelve times in his definitive book on the maker.

PROVENANCE: Perry Avery Collection, Stony Creek, Connecticut Dixon Merkt Collection Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection, acquired from the above.

Merkt used this exact decoy to demonstrate that “Wheeler was a master at portraying the black duck. His skillful carving coupled with realistic feather painting produced a remarkably lifelike appearance.” He goes on to point out that this bird’s head “shows the alert eye and hint of a smile that give each of Wheeler’s ducks a personality all its own.” The author closes his review by stating, “A characteristic that sometimes appears in this grade is the detail carving under the bill. This is just one of the many subtleties that makes this black duck extraordinary.”

LITERATURE: Dixon MacD. Merkt, Shang: A Biography of Charles E. Wheeler, Spanish Fork, UT, 1984, dust jacket cover, pp. 19, 129, 152, 172 and 173, pl. 5, 107, 142, 188-192, exact decoy illustrated 12 times. Laurence Sheehan, The Birding Life, New York, NY, 2011, pp. 95, exact decoy illustrated. Laurence Sheehan, The Sporting Life, New York, NY, 1992, pp. 81, exact decoy illustrated.

$30,000 - $40,000

A paper label on the underside appears to read “Property of Perry Avery Stony Creek Conn.” Included with this lot is Wheeler’s decoy weight mold. In excellent original paint with minimal wear.

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LOUIS C. RATHMELL 1898-1974 | DANBURY, CT

30

30 Preening Black Duck Hen LOUIS C. RATHMELL (1898-1974) DANBURY, CT, C. 1941 15 1⁄2 in. long

According to O’Brien, “Rathmell was probably the best hunter of those who hunted the Stratford marshes. He not only made beautiful decoys, but stood alone as a wing shot and duck caller. His presence in the marsh was feared by the other hunters. When I showed Bill Mackey and Adele Earnest these decoys, they thought they were Shang Wheelers.” As they were virtually undistinguishable, they were often sold as Wheelers and thus O’Briend continues, “Rathmell was the most unappreciated of the Stratford carvers. A shame, because he was a great maker.” In the 1960s O’Brien acquired twelve of these cork black ducks from the rig of fellow Connecticut hunter and carver, Louis Rathmell. O’Brien remarked that “His decoys are difficult to distinguish from Shang Wheeler’s when both were at their best. He won several contests from 19391943, beating Wheeler and other top makers. He made one exquisite rig of shooting decoys, black ducks, all with different head positions.” O’Brien traded away seven of his other Rathmells to other top collectors, including Lloyd Griffith, George Starr, and George Thompson. Excellent original paint with even gunning wear.

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PROVENANCE: Louis Rathmell Rig Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection, acquired from the maker, c. 1962 LITERATURE: Henry C. Chitwood, Connecticut Decoys, West Chester, PA, 1987, p. 100, exact decoy illustrated. Cliff Alexander, “Lou Rathmell: A Decoy Maker Who Lived in a Castle,” Decoy Magazine, November/December 2015, p. 25 and front cover, exact decoy illustrated. Peter Johnson and Alf Wannenburgh, The World of Shooting, Lausanne, Switzerland, 1987, pp. 259-261, exact decoy illustrated. Jackson Parker, “O’Brien Classic Decoys on Display at Museum of American Folk Art,” North American Decoys: Wildfowl Carvers and Collectors News, Spanish Fork, UT, Spring/Summer 1982, p. 37, exact decoy illustrated. EXHIBITED:

New York, New York, The Art of the American Decoy: Folk Sculpture from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Donal C. O’Brien Jr., Museum of American Folk Art, September 3– November 8, 1981. $12,000 - $18,000


LOUIS C. RATHMELL 1898-1974 | DANBURY, CT

31

31 High-Head Black Duck Drake LOUIS C. RATHMELL (1898-1974) DANBURY, CT, C. 1941 17 3⁄4 in. long

“The best of Rathmell’s working blacks and part of the finest rig of blacks ever made by anyone, Wheeler included.” -Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. The maker’s refined head carving, dynamic poses, and exceptional scratch and feather paint place him in the ranks of Stratford’s finest carvers, alongside Shang Wheeler. This black duck drake with a high and turned head and exquisite paint shows Rathmell at his best. “...one of the best gunning rigs ever made.” -Dixon Merkt Excellent original paint with even gunning wear. PROVENANCE: Louis Rathmell Rig Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection, acquired from the maker, c. 1962 LITERATURE: Cliff Alexander, “Lou Rathmell: A decoy maker who lived in a castle,” Decoy Magazine, November/December

2015, p. 25 and front cover, exact decoy illustrated. Dixon Merkt, “Gentleman Carvers of Connecticut,” The Clarion, Spring 1980, p. 50, rigmate illustrated. Peter Johnson and Alf Wannenburgh, The World of Shooting, Lausanne, Switzerland, 1987, pp. 259-261, exact decoy illustrated. Jackson Parker, “O’Brien Classic Decoys on Display at Museum of American Folk Art,” North American Decoys: Wildfowl Carvers and Collectors News, Spanish Fork, UT, Spring/Summer 1982, p. 36, exact decoy illustrated. EXHIBITED: New York, New York, The Art of the American Decoy: Folk Sculpture from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Donal C. O’Brien Jr., Museum of American Folk Art, September 3– November 8, 1981.

$12,000 - $18,000

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RALPH COYKENDALL, SR. 1890-1968 | STRATFORD, CT

32

32 Mallard Drake

RALF COYKENDALL, SR. (1890-1968) STRATFORD, CT, C. 1945 18 1⁄2 in. long

Signed “R.W.C.” on the underside. This decoy was featured as the lead bird in the article on the maker in Decoy Collectors Guide. “The best decoy Ralf Coykendall ever made.” -Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. In original paint with minimal wear. PROVENANCE:

98

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: Peter Johnson and Alf Wannenburgh, The World of Shooting, Lausanne, Switzerland, 1987, pp. 259-261, exact decoy illustrated. Hal Sorenson, “Ralf Coykendall,” Decoy Collector’s Guide, 1963-1965, p. 20, exact decoy illustrated.

$5,000 - $7,000


ALBERT DAVIDS LAING 1811-1886 | STRATFORD, CT

33

33 Early Tucked-Head Goldeneye Drake ALBERT DAVIDS LAING (1811-1886) STRATFORD, CT, C. 1850 14 in. long

“...no name is held in higher esteem than Albert Laing.” -Henry Chitwood Albert Laing was raised and began waterfowling in New York City during the early 19th century, placing him as one of the earliest known decoy makers. He spent time on the Chesapeake Bay and Delaware River before settling in Connecticut where his decoys would set the template for the region’s style. Laing’s early yet refined carvings are coveted today and few opportunities arise for collectors to own them. According to Chitwood, Laing’s entire hunting rig was sold upon his death in 1886 for $45 (about 40 cents each).

PROVENANCE: Albert D. Laing Rig Charles E. “Shang” Wheeler Rig Thomas C. Marshall, acquired from the above c. 1945 Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection, acquired from the above LITERATURE: Henry C. Chitwood, Connecticut Decoys, West Chester, PA, 1987, p. 29, related decoy illustrated. Peter Johnson and Alf Wannenburgh, The World of Shooting, Lausanne, Switzerland, 1987, pp. 259-261, exact decoy illustrated.

$8,000 - $12,000

Many of the birds from Laing’s gunning rig were later acquired by fellow famous Stratford carver Charles E. “Shang” Wheeler (1872-1949). This decoy was hunted by Wheeler until the 1940s. Thomas Marshall found the Laing decoy to be of significant historical value and decided to retire it from gunning. In old working repaint with gunning wear.

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“...the heads on Dudley’s decoys are the finest the writer has ever seen.” -William J. Mackey, Jr., American Bird Decoys

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LEE DUDLEY

1860-1942 | KNOTTS ISLAND, NC 34 The Barber-O’Brien Ruddy Duck

LEE DUDLEY (1860-1942) KNOTTS ISLAND, NC, C. 1895 10 in. long

Lee Dudley carvings have been held in the highest regard since the first days of decoy collecting. In fact, the first two definitive publications on the subject, Joel Barber’s Wild Fowl Decoys (1934) and William J. Mackey’s American Bird Decoys (1965) both begin their first chapter with stories of Dudley decoys and the authors’ reverence for them. Barber’s particular love of Dudleys is illustrated in the first three plates of his book; the first of which depicts two rigmate ruddy ducks, now held in the Shelburne Museum, prominently displayed top and center on his collection wall. As one of O’Brien’s favorite decoys, this bird was featured in a similar place of prominence, front and center on an important shelf. In Wild Fowl Decoys, Barber recounts acquiring this exact decoy on a visit to Knotts Island in the 1920s. The island is a small and remote place between Back Bay and Currituck Sound on the easternmost border of Virginia and North Carolina. It is here he recalls “...I add to my collection a group of old-time Ruddy Duck. They were very old and of singular perfection. As a collector I was elated for Ruddies are among the rarest decoys on the whole Atlantic Seaboard. But that does not complete the story.” Shortly after his discovery Barber is led to meet the bird’s maker. “Mr. Dudley is a very understanding person.” He continues, whose “talk held steadily on ducks and decoys. The old Ruddy started a train of reminiscence covering years of Virginia gunning. I learned first hand of days when Boobies (Ruddy) sold for only five cents apiece, barely enough to pay for ‘loading the shells’; during the nineties, the price went to a dollar apiece, and the gunners called them ‘dollar ducks.’” It is at this time he gleans the “pedigree” of the rig: “…in 1913 the whole Dudley rig had been sold to [a Knotts Island] club at the then prevailing price of fifty cents apiece.” Barber closes his reminiscences stating that his acquisitions “... will never go overboard again; nor hear the roar of guns overhead. Scarred and faded but still intrepid, they were off to see the world in a knobby burlap bag - to use the familiar term - ‘collected.’” This marks one of the very first formal accounts of a decoy being collected. With its form and provenance, this decoy is considered by many to be the pinnacle Dudley and the pinnacle North Carolina carving held in private hands. The Dudley decoy has always been known for its bold, singular form and this carving exemplifies all of the desirable attributes one looks for.

102

In 1981, a panel made up of sixteen of the top decoy collectors and experts reviewed the 1,362 decoys then held in the Shelburne Museum collection. The panel consisted of George Coombs, John Dinan, Joe Duggan, Tim Eastland, Henry Fleckenstein, Jr., Robyn Hardy, Somers Headley, Dixon Merkt, Donal O’Brien, Jr., Bobby Richardson, Robin Starr, Ron Swanson, Bill Purnell, Jeff Waingrow, and Bud Ward. When the data from the weekend was collected and tallied, fourteen of the sixteen experts voted the Barber Dudley ruddy duck as the most important decoy in the collection. The almost unanimous vote is noteworthy as the Dudley ruddy duck topped the Osgood geese, Shang Wheeler’s swimming mallard pair, and the Barnes/Holly swan, among many others. The form, execution, provenance, and rarity of this coveted Knotts Island ruddy duck make it perhaps the most exciting Southern decoy ever offered for auction. The underside retains Lee Dudley’s coveted “L D” brand and O’Brien’s collection stamp, between these key markers of ownership lies an impeccable provenance, of utmost importance when considering any Dudley acquisition. This marks the first time that this decoy has ever been available for public sale. Original paint with heavy gunning wear. Original bill with shot scar, putty along right edge, and some touch-up. One-half tail repair to upper right side. PROVENANCE: Lee Dudley Rig A Knotts Island Gunning Club Rig, acquired from the above, 1913 Joel Barber Collection, acquired from the above, c. 1925 Thomas Marshall Collection, gifted from the above Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection, acquired from the above LITERATURE: Joel Barber, Wild Fowl Decoys, New York, NY, 1954, plate 1 (top row, 2nd to the left), rigmate illustrated Laurence Sheehan, The Birding Life, New York, NY, 2011, pp. 92-93, exact decoy illustrated. Loy S. Harrell, Jr., Decoys: North America’s One Hundred Greatest, Iola, WI, 2000, pp. 50-51, exact decoy illustrated.

Jackson Parker, “Shelburne Museum,” North American Decoys, Spanish Fork, UT, Fall & Winter 1981, pp. 22-26, rigmate illustrated. EXHIBITED: New York, New York, The Art of the American Decoy: Folk Sculpture from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Donal C. O’Brien Jr., Museum of American Folk Art, September 3–November 8, 1981.

$80,000 - $120,000


34

“Dudley’s ruddy ducks usually signed LD, are the best of their kind, and everything a ruddy duck should be...as many a collector has discovered, they are not only rare, they are virtually nonexistent” - Adele Earnest

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LEE DUDLEY

1860-1942 | KNOTTS ISLAND, NC

35 Redhead Drake

LEE DUDLEY (1860-1942) KNOTTS ISLAND, NC, C. 1890 12 1⁄4 in long

This bird is one of the finest examples of a Dudley redhead ever to come to light and was made for Dudley’s personal gunning rig. The redhead decoys from this rig represent some of the earliest and rarest of Dudley’s carvings and can be distinguished by their smooth humpbacks and painted eyes upon the stylishly carved heads. Birds from this famous early rig bear Dudley’s original “L D” brand on the bottom. Over the decades O'Brien owned numerous Dudley decoys and described this one as the "nicest Dudley redhead I have seen." In working repaint worn to wood in places with heavy gunning wear, reset neck, age line in bill, wear to tail edges. PROVENANCE: Lee Dudley Rig A Knotts Island Gunning Club Rig, acquired from the above, 1913 Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection

$20,000 - $40,000

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36 Root-Head Yellowlegs ATLANTIC COAST, C. 1880 9 1â „2 in. long

This whimsical root-head yellowlegs epitomizes the decoy as folk art. A single branch was used for the head, neck, and bill to utilize the natural strength of the wood. With its long knife marks along the body and original head and bill, this is one of the finest examples from the rig that we have identified. Original paint with even gunning wear. PROVENANCE:

Lloyd Johnson Collection Donal C. O'Brien Jr. Collection, acquired from the above LITERATURE: Adele Earnest, Folk Art In America, Exton, PA, 1984, p. 138 (3rd bird from left), nearly identical rigmate illustrated.

$1,500 - $2,500 36

37 Running Yellowlegs

KNOTTS ISLAND, NC, C. 1900 11 1â „2 in. long

An important North Carolina yellowlegs decoy exhibiting a metal bill, lively knife carving, and a crisp Mackey Collection stamp on the underside. This rig features a hole drilled through the tail which was for stringing the birds when they were carried for use on the Outer Banks in Whalebone, North Carolina. Once retired this rig was immortalized in Colio's American Decoys book and Mackey's American Bird Decoys, Folk Art chapter. Original paint with even gunning wear, with original knot holes and age lines on left side. PROVENANCE: William J. Mackey Collection Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection LITERATURE: Quintina Colio, American Decoys, Ephrata, PA, 1972, p. 73, rigmate illustrated. William J. Mackey, Jr., American Bird Decoys, New York, NY, 1965, p. 246, plate 188, similar decoys illustrated. Laurence Sheehan, The Sporting Life, New York, NY, 1992, p. 80, exact decoy illustrated.

$3,000 - $4,000

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107


MATTHEWS RIG

C. 1890 | CHINCOTEAGUE, VA

38 Matthews Rig Turned-Head Dowitcher

CHINCOTEAGUE, VA, C. 1890 10 in. long

William Mackey collected this shorebird in his acquisition of the William Matthews (b. 1855) rig, which was used on Virginia’s Assawoman Island, located at the southern tip of what is now the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. When Mackey purchased this rig from the Matthews estate the rig consisted of shorebird decoys carved by several different talented Virginia makers. This is a dramatic turned-head shorebird decoy with distinct features, including elliptical carved eyes, a ridge down the back of the turned neck, and heart-shaped wings. The long-reaching neck is craning to the left and slightly turned, giving the bird an inquisitive appearance. The turn of the bird continues through the wing to the tip of the flared, spadeshaped tail. While the head and tail are elongated, the plump body is filled out to a ten-inch circumference. Mackey later featured this decoy, along with a yellowlegs, as the stars of the rig in his American Bird Decoys book. Another fascinating feature of this decoy is the incised wing carving along its edge that begins at the center of the back and transitions down towards the tail where it suddenly becomes raised. Excellent original paint with even gunning wear and repair to chip on right corner of tail, touch-up to eyes.

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PROVENANCE: William Matthews Rig William J. Mackey, Jr. Collection, acquired from the estate of the above Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection LITERATURE: William J. Mackey, Jr., American Bird Decoys, New York, NY, 1965, plate 135, exact decoy illustrated. Quintina Colio, American Decoys, Ephrata, PA, 1972, p. 60, exact decoy illustrated. Laurence Sheehan, The Birding Life, New York, NY, 2011, p. 95, exact decoy illustrated. Laurence Sheehan, The Sporting Life, New York, NY, 1992, p. 80, exact decoy illustrated twice. EXHIBITED:

New York, New York, The Art of the American Decoy: Folk Sculpture from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Donal C. O’Brien Jr., Museum of American Folk Art, September 3– November 8, 1981. $25,000 - $35,000


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39

39 Red Knot

COBB ISLAND, VA, C. 1890 8 in. long

In Shore Bird Decoys, author Henry Fleckenstein writes of a rigmate, “this decoy is one of the type most often attributed to the Cobb family of Cobb Island, Virginia, but factual identification of the maker may never be learned.” A ridge starting at the back of this knot’s head sharpens as it leads to the raised wing tips. The U-shaped black, white, and red feathering is that seen on the finest Cobb Island shorebirds. In Shorebirds, Levinson describes a rigmate as, “an exceptional red knot with superb painting and painted eyes. It is most unusual to find a decoy by the Cobb family dating back well over a hundred years in such pristine condition.” In original paint with gunning wear, including a paint rub on left wing and chip to tail.

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PROVENANCE: Lloyd Johnson Collection Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection LITERATURE: Henry A. Fleckenstein, Jr., Shore Bird Decoys, Exton, PA, 1980, p. 30, plate 32, related decoy illustrated. John Levinson and Somers Headley, Shorebirds, Centreville, MD, 1991, p. 107, figure 7-13, related decoy illustrated.

$15,000 - $20,000


CHARLES E. JESTER

1876-1952 | CHINCOTEAGUE, VA

40

40 Bufflehead Drake

CHARLES E. JESTER (1876-1952) CHINCOTEAGUE, VA, C. 1900 11 1⁄2 in. long

An exceptionally rare hollow bufflehead by this maker. The bird’s thin neck flares into pronounced cheeks accurately representing the species​.​​​Original paint with gunning wear, including minute chip to bill tip. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: Richard A. Bourne Co. Inc., ​​Rare American Decoys

and Bird Carvings​, Hyannis, MA, February 1 & 2, 1985, cover and lot 392, exact decoy illustrated. $​7,000 - ​$​10,000

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THE WARD BROTHERS

1896-1983 and 1895-1976 | CRISFIELD, MD

41 The McCleery-Ward Canvasback Hen

THE WARD BROTHERS LEMUEL T. (1896-1983) AND STEPHEN (1895-1976) CRISFIELD, MD, C. 1932 16 1⁄2 in. long

The Ward Brothers’ hometown of Crisfield, Maryland​,​is on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay, just miles north of the Virginia border and due west of Chincoteague Island. Under the tutelage of their father Travis Ward (1873-1926), a boatbuilder, decoy carver, and barber, Lem and Steve began carving decoys in their teenage years. During the 1920s, around the time of their father’s passing, the brothers, both barbers, formed a decoy carving partnership that would last a lifetime. Their reputation for producing fine decoys spread across the country and the brothers continually worked to advance their carving and painting skills as “wildfowl counterfeiters in wood.” They were fortunate enough to enjoy some of their popularity in the mid-twentieth century within the growing field of decoy collecting. In 1968 The Ward Foundation was started and in 1975 The Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art at Salisbury University was established. The museum is now the largest of its kind dedicated to the subject. Inscribed on the bottom “1932 MADE BY STEVE, PAINTED BY LEM, WARD BROS, CRISFIELD, MD,” signed by both, and stamped “McCLEERY.” While they are dated 1932, these birds have been canonized as the 1936 model. The Ward Brothers captured the likeness of species in their carvings as well as any maker before or after their remarkable careers. This superb example has a turned head and detailed bill carving. Of the highly coveted 1936 model

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canvasbacks the Wards produced, it is rare to find one with its original bill intact as the long and delicate bills were prone to breakage. The full body, refined head carving, exceptional paint, original condition, and provenance of this example place it among the finest hens known. Of this decoy and the following lot O’Brien writes, “If I were to pick a pair of decoys to illustrate the art of decoy making, I would pick the Ward Brothers 1936 canvasbacks. I have searched high and low for these and have had six different pairs. They have the widest, most flaring bills of any I have seen...and are the best I have come across...” The O’Brien family selected this canvasback hen to be used as the model for the O’Brien Collection stamp. Excellent original paint with minimal gunning wear including typical minor flaking around original Ward putty which is missing over head nail. PROVENANCE: Robert H. Richardson Collection Dr. James M. McCleery Collection, acquired from the above Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection, acquired from the auction of the above LITERATURE: Robert Shaw, Call to the Sky: The Decoy Collection of James M. McCleery, M.D., Houston, TX, 1992, pp. 76-77, exact decoy illustrated. Ronald J. Gard and Brian J. McGrath, Ward Brothers’ Decoys: A Collector’s Guide, Wolf City, TX, 1989.

$20,000 - $30,000


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42 The McCleery-Ward Canvasback Drake THE WARD BROTHERS LEMUEL T. (1896-1983) AND STEPHEN (1895-1976) CRISFIELD, MD, C. 1932 16 1⁄2 in. long

Inscribed on the bottom “1932 MADE BY STEVE, PAINTED BY LEM, WARD BROS, CRISFIELD, MD,” signed by both, and stamped “McCLEERY.” While they are dated 1932, these birds have been canonized as the 1936 model. The full body, refined head carving, exceptional paint, original condition, and provenance of this example place it among the finest drakes known. Excellent original paint with minimal gunning wear.

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection, acquired from the auction of the above LITERATURE: Robert Shaw, Call to the Sky: The Decoy Collection of James M. McCleery, M.D., Houston, TX, 1992, pp. 76-77, exact decoy illustrated. Ronald J. Gard and Brian J. McGrath, Ward Brothers’ Decoys: A Collector’s Guide, Wolf City, TX, 1989.

$20,000 - $30,000

PROVENANCE:

Robert H. Richardson Collection Dr. James M. McCleery Collection, acquired from the above

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THE WARD BROTHERS

1896-1983 and 1895-1976 | CRISFIELD, MD

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43 Green-Winged Teal Drake

THE WARD BROTHERS LEMUEL T. (1896-1983) AND STEPHEN (1895-1976) CRISFIELD, MD, C. 1936 12 1⁄4 in. long

Discussing this rare gunning bird, O'Brien describes it as, "the best likeness of a teal I have ever seen." Excellent original paint with minimal gunning wear, touch-up to reset bill. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection

$18,000 - $24,000

“Stephen W. Ward (1895-1976) and his brother Lemuel Travis Ward (1896-1984) of Crisfield, Maryland were by far the most prominent Chesapeake Bay carvers of the twentieth century and among the greatest and most influential bird carvers of all time. The brothers worked closely together throughout their lives, combining the complementary talents of Steve’s hand carving and Lem’s brushwork to create works of extraordinary grace and realism.” -Robert Shaw in Bird Decoys of North America: Nature, History, and Art

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THE WARD BROTHERS

1896-1983 and 1895-1976 | CRISFIELD, MD

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44 Classic Mallard Drake

THE WARD BROTHERS LEMUEL T. (1896-1983) AND STEPHEN (1895-1976) CRISFIELD, MD, C. 1936 17 in. long

This exact decoy was chosen for Gard and McGrath’s definitive volume on the Wards to illustrate the ‘36 mallard. Of this exemplary classic, the authors write that it has similar “elements found in the Bishops Head Gun Club design...In addition to its fine form, the bird displays a first rate paint scheme typical of the Wards during this period. The bird is in excellent condition…” Excellent original paint with minimal wear, hairline crack through nostril, touch-up to chip on right bill edge, front of breast, and small reset tail chip.

PROVENANCE: Private Collection, Maryland Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection LITERATURE: Ronald J. Gard and Brian J. McGrath, Ward Brothers’ Decoys: A Collector’s Guide, Wolf City, TX, 1989, pl. 74, pp. 83 and 85, exact decoy illustrated.

$12,000 - $18,000

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LOTHROP T. HOLMES 1824-1899 | KINGSTON, MA

45 Ruddy Turnstone

LOTHROP TURNER HOLMES (1824-1899) KINGSTON, MA, C. 1855 8 1⁄2 in. long

Unlike many professional carvers who earned a living selling their decoys, Lothrop Holmes, of Kingston, MA, carved decoys for his own rig used along the marshes of the Jones River and Duxbury Bay. For gainful employment, Holmes first worked the dangerous job of pouring molten iron at New England Foundries. In cataloging this decoy’s record-setting rigmate, Massachusetts Masterpieces: The Decoy As Art author and curator Gwladys Hopkins writes, “Where to start? This seductive little turnstone and his companion, the blackbellied plover are superb portraits done by an unusually observant, sensitive and talented artist. Everything about this calico bird is beautifully captured: its profile, proportions, and attitude-and it is masterfully crafted in form, finish and coloring. The familiar paint with its fanciful curlicues and lush, easy brushwork is exceptional.” Lothrop Turner Holmes is among the earliest and finest shorebird makers from any region. As Hopkins points out “these shorebirds are rare” with only “three perhaps four ruddy turnstone” known.

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This decoy’s rigmate, discussed above, set a then-world record for any shorebird decoy selling for $470,000 in 2000 and now resides in the esteemed collection of Paul Tudor Jones II. No other turnstone maker’s work is held in higher esteem than that of Holmes. In original paint with even gunning wear. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: Gwladys Hopkins, Massachusetts Masterpieces: The Decoy as Art, Lincoln, MA, 2016, p. 46, plate 16, rigmate illustrated. Sotheby’s and Guyette and Schmidt, American Waterfowl Decoys: The Distinguished Collection of Dr. James M. McCleery, New York, NY, 2000, p. 205, lot 537, rigmate illustrated.

$40,000 - $60,000


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ELISHA BURR

1839-1909 | HINGHAM, MA

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46 Feeding Black-Bellied Plover ELISHA BURR (1839-1909) HINGHAM, MA, C. 1880 10 1⁄2 in. long

Elisha Burr was a master of capturing the postures of live birds. This decoy shows Burr at his best. His birds were carved in animated poses with complex wing and tail treatments. The deep feeding posture of this decoy is rare for any maker, including Burr. This carving style, coupled with Burr’s lively brush strokes, created decoys that seem alive with movement. For this reason, Adele Earnest chose a rigmate to this decoy when she curated The World’s Fair in 1967. That rigmate now resides in the American Folk Art Museum in New York City. This animated shorebird decoy has small glass eyes set in the concave eye grooves. The plump body is finished with the maker’s best split wing, detailed primary, and drop tail carving. Original paint with light gunning wear including minor losses to wing tips. 118

PROVENANCE: Tony Waring Collection William J. Mackey, Jr. Collection, acquired from the above Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection, acquired from the above LITERATURE: Quintina Colio, American Decoys, Ephrata, PA, 1972, p. 72, similar example illustrated.

$6,000 - $9,000


A. ELMER CROWELL

1862-1952 | EAST HARWICH, MA

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47 Black-Bellied Plover

A. ELMER CROWELL (1862-1952) EAST HARWICH, MA, C. 1910 11 in. long

This early gunning plover is from the Parker Williams “Buck” Whittemore (1872-1959) rig. Whittemore was a Harvard graduate, class of 1895, where he captained the baseball team. A manufacturer of railroad cars, Whittemore lived in West Gloucester and Boston’s Back Bay. He also had an estate in Wareham, Massachusetts, and hunted on Cape Cod. The underside of the plover bears two of his “P.W.W.” brands.

PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: Jackson Parker, “Decoy Record Price Set at SPB Auction of Gregory Folk Art,” North American Decoys, Spanish Fork, UT, Summer 1979, p. 7, rigmate illustrated.

$30,000 - $35,000

Known for their bold forms and exceptional paint patterns, Crowell took tremendous care in carving these early shorebird rigs for his affluent patrons. The brief period during which he carved these life-like working decoys was just prior to the passing of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. In excellent original paint with minimal gunning wear.

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48

48 Running Yellowlegs

SOUTH SHORE, MA, C. 1910 11 1⁄2 in. long

The delicate ticked feathering along the breast and sides closely resembles the work attributed to David Goodspeed (1862-1943) from Duxbury, Massachusetts. This elegant yellowlegs was carved in a full running position. Dr. George Ross Starr, Jr. discusses the “forward look” of David Goodspeed’s birds in his Decoys of the Atlantic Flyway. A long-tailed drake from the collection of George Ross Starr, Jr., M.D. appears to be carved by the same hand. In strong original paint with even gunning wear, including flaking around stick hole.

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PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: Laurence Sheehan, The Sporting Life, New York, NY, 1992, p. 80, exact decoy illustrated twice. George Ross Starr, Jr., M.D., Decoys of the Atlantic Flyway, New York, NY, 1974, p. 173, figure 86, related carving with stippling illustrated.

$2,000 - $3,000


JOSEPH W. LINCOLN

1859-1938 | ACCORD, MA

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49 Dowitcher

JOSEPH W. LINCOLN (1859-1938) ACCORD, MA, C. 1890 10 1⁄2 in. long

An extremely rare dowitcher by this famous Massachusetts maker featuring nice clean lines with spokeshave carving. The back displays well-executed, stippled-paint feathering. In excellent original paint with light gunning wear and minor touch-up around base of reset bill.

LITERATURE: Milton C. Weiler and William J. Mackey, Jr., Classic Shorebird Decoys: A Portfolio of Paintings, New York, NY, 1971, plate 13, related example illustrated. Cap Vinal, Joseph W. Lincoln, Rockland, MA, 2002, p. 66, related decoys illustrated.

PROVENANCE:

$4,000 - $5,500

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

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LOTHROP T. HOLMES 1824-1899 | KINGSTON, MA

50 Canvas-Covered Long-Tailed Duck LOTHROP TURNER HOLMES (1824-1899) KINGSTON, MA, C. 1855 13 in. long

Those acquainted with the work of Lothrop Holmes come to expect a certain level of craftsmanship and attention to detail that is scarcely found elsewhere, and this long tail is no exception. The head carving is done with an efficiency and sophistication that captures the nuances of the species. Some of its features include well-developed cheeks that rise to subtle eye grooves which meet at a sharp forehead that ascends to a broadened crown. The slightly upswept bill, with subtle nail carving, gives this bird one of the most pleasing attitudes of the entire rig. The body is constructed with canvas, fastened by copper tacks stretched over bent wooden slats. Dr. George Ross Starr summed up this bird’s rigmate saying, “Simple, light and above all beautiful - that was a Loth Holmes decoy.” Gigi Hopkins, in Massachusetts Masterpieces, credits Holmes with innovating his decoy designs, “The carver also made undeniably cute, framed, canvas-covered oldsquaw – and if he was making these between the ages of 25 to 30, it dates them to the 1850s, making it fairly clear that Holmes invented this lightweight form.” Inscribed on the bottom board “LOTHROP HOLMES KINGSTON, MASS.” Adding to the accolades of this bird, a rigmate was depicted on the 1980 Massachusetts Waterfowl Stamp and print. This is an excellent example from the most celebrated rig of canvas decoys. Original paint with gunning wear and working touch-up to tail chip.

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PROVENANCE: Dr. George Ross Starr, Jr. Collection Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection LITERATURE: Laurence Sheehan, The Sporting Life, New York, NY, 1992, p. 82, exact decoy illustrated. Paul A. Johnsgard, The Bird Decoy: An American Art Form, Lincoln, NE, 1976, p. 67, rigmate illustrated. George Ross Starr, Jr. M.D., Decoys of the Atlantic Flyway, New York, NY, 1974, pp. 56-57, color plate 3, rigmate illustrated. Massachusetts Waterfowl Stamp, 1980, rigmate illustrated. Jeff Waingrow, American Wildfowl Decoys, New York, NY, 1985, pp. 66-67, rigmate illustrated. Rob Moir and Jackson Parker, “Massachusetts Waterfowl Decoys,” The Magazine Antiques, September 1989, p. 524, plate XIII, rigmate illustrated. Peter Johnson and Alf Wannenburgh, The World of Shooting, Lausanne, Switzerland, 1987, pp. 259-261, exact decoy partially illustrated. EXHIBITED: New York, New York, The Art of the American Decoy: Folk Sculpture from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Donal C. O’Brien Jr., Museum of American Folk Art, September 3– November 8, 1981.

$30,000 - $50,000


50

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ALLEN P. STUART

1866-1942 | MARTHA’S VINEYARD, MA

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51 Goldeneye Hen

ALLEN P. STUART (1866-1942) EDGARTOWN, MARTHA'S VINEYARD, MA, C. 1900 15 1⁄4 in. long

An excellent representation of the species in a swimming posture. This sculpture features crisp clean lines. With their refined bills, thin necks, and sharp paddle tails, finding Stuarts in original condition is exceedingly difficult. Excellent original paint with minimal gunning wear and fine white specks on top. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

$4,000 - $5,000

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JOSEPH W. LINCOLN

1859-1938 | ACCORD, MA

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52 Goldeneye Hen

JOSEPH W. LINCOLN (1859-1938) ACCORD, MA, C. 1910 14 in. long

This example features Lincoln’s clean lines and finest stippled paint. Lincoln decoys in this stellar condition are a true rarity. Outstanding original paint with minimal gunning wear and reset bill with touch-up. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: Laurence Sheehan, The Sporting Life, New York, NY, 1992, p. 80, exact decoy illustrated.

$8,000 - $12,000

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WILLIE ROSS

1878-1954 | CHEBEAGUE ISLAND, ME

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53 Oversize Red-Breasted Merganser Drake WILLIE ROSS (1878-1954) CHEBEAGUE ISLAND, ME, 1920 26 in. long

This grand Canada-goose-sized merganser is from a special rig of six. The inletted head retains remnants of its replaceable horse-hair crest. Made from a large split log, Ross chose material with heart-wood loss, creating a decoy that was naturally lighter and partially hollowed out along the bottom. Original paint with gunning wear. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection

$6,000 - $8,000

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54 White-Winged Scoter

JOSEPH W. LINCOLN (1859-1938) ACCORD, MA, C. 1918 18 1â „2 in. long

This decoy was made with canvas carefully stretched over a frame of wooden slats. Due to their age and delicate construction, many of these birds were lost or severely damaged over time. The underside retains fore and aft leather loops for in-line rigging. The near mint original condition suggests this decoy may not have been used. Sterling original condition with minimal wear from handling. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: Cap Vinal, Joseph Lincoln, Rockland, MA, 2002, dust-jacket cover, related rig illustrated. Rob Moir and Jackson Parker, "Massachusetts Waterfowl Decoys," The Magazine Antiques, September 1989, p. 521, plate VII, rigmate illustrated.

54

$2,000 - $4,000

55 Goldeneye Hen

WILLIAM HARNDEN FOSTER (1886-1941) ANDOVER, MA, C. 1920 16 in. long

William H. Foster was an accomplished sporting artist, illustrator, and editor of National Sportsman and Hunting and Fishing magazines. He authored New England Grouse Shooting, and was an inventor of skeet shooting. In addition, he was also a skilled decoy maker crafting only birds for his own use. In original paint with gunning wear. PROVENANCE: William H. Foster, Sr. Rig William H. Foster, Jr., by descent from the above J.D. Mitchell Collection Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection

$3,000 - $5,000 55

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WENDELL GILLEY

1904-1983 | SOUTHWEST HARBOR, ME

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56 Two Scoter

WENDELL GILLEY (1904-1983) SOUTHWEST HARBOR, ME, C. 1935 19 in. long

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Birds from this rig were made with heads on removable square posts allowing them to have four head positions. O’Brien selected these decoys for his collection as the best of the rig.

positions: a simple means of giving much variety to a rig on the water.” In original paint with even gunning wear, working repaint mostly below the water line, and working touch-up to white, some seam separation and age lines.

The 1968 Decoy Collector’s Guide described Gilley’s craftsmanship, “For some years, Wendell Gilley of Southwest Harbor, Maine, has enjoyed national recognition for his decorative and life-like bird carvings. His decoys, however, are relatively unknown for the simple reason he has carved very few...and these strictly for his personal use. But the few he did produce several years back are unique and worthy of prominence in any fine collection. This white-winged scoter is an example. It has graceful lines and is true to species. It is hollow and boasts a removable head with a square dowel which allows the head to be placed in four different

PROVENANCE: Roger Rich Rig Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection, acquired from Wendell Gilley LITERATURE: Peter Johnson and Alf Wannenburgh, The World of Shooting, Lausanne, Switzerland, 1987, pp. 259-261, exact decoys illustrated. Hal Sorenson, Decoy Collector’s Guide, 1968, p. 96, rigmate illustrated.

$2,000 - $4,000


FISH DECOYS

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57 Trout Decoy

HARRY SEYMOUR LAKE CHAUTAUQUA, NY, C. 1890 7 7⁄8 in. long

A green and yellow fish with red and yellow spots, leather tail, and metal fins. This carving features precisely carved gills and mouth, brass eyes, and a meticulous paint pattern. Outstanding original paint with fishing wear. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: Laurence Sheehan, The Sporting Life, New York, NY, 1992, pp. 82-83, exact decoy illustrated.

$5,000 - $8,000

58 Landlocked Salmon Decoy HARRY SEYMOUR LAKE CHAUTAUQUA, NY, C. 1890 7 in. long

A dark blue to pale blue landlocked salmon with yellow spots, red gills and mouth, leather tail, and metal fins and eyes. Original paint with even fishing wear. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection

$4,000 - $6,000

59 Northern Pike Decoy

OSCAR W. PETERSON (1887-1951) CADILLAC, MI, C. 1930 9 1⁄2 in. long

A rare species with green-with-white spots, red mouth, metal fins, carved gills, and original orange glass eyes. The body is curved to the left. A pinnacle work for the maker. Original paint with minor fishing wear, repair to lower quarter of caudal fin. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection

$3,000 - $5,000

60 Landlocked Salmon Decoy ED IRWIN LAKE CHAUTAUQUA, NY, C. 1890 8 1⁄2 in. long

A superb and early fish carving with wonderful sculpted form, carved gills, metal fins, and leather tail. Original paint with even fishing wear, a few dings, and slightly lifted grain on left side. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection

$4,000 - $6,000

61 Brook Trout Decoy

OSCAR W. PETERSON (1887-1951) CADILLAC, MI, C. 1930 4 7⁄8 in. long

An exquisite small-size Peterson fish carving with black and red spots and black stripes. The mouth and gills are carved and painted red. The body curves to the left and has metal fins. Original paint, repair to lower third of caudal fin. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection

$2,000 - $4,000

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60

61

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62 Golden Shiner Decoy

OSCAR W. PETERSON (1887-1951) CADILLAC, MI, C. 1930 9 in. long

A black and gold fish with red tail, gills, and mouth. The decoy has metal fins and the body curves to the right. Outstanding original paint with minimal fishing wear. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection

$1,500 - $2,500

63 Trout Decoy

LAKE CHAUTAUQUA, NY, 1880 6 3⁄4 in. long

A very early carving with faint yellow, red, and black spotting, metal fins, and leather tail. Exhibits precisely carved gills and mouth with metal eyes. Original paint with minor fishing wear. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection

$2,000 - $3,000

64 Brown Trout Decoy

HARRY SEYMOUR LAKE CHAUTAUQUA, NY, C. 1890 6 3/4 in. long

A brown and yellow trout with black, yellow, and red spots. The mouth is carved and painted black and the gills are carved and painted red. The decoy has metal eyes and fins and a leather tail. Original paint with fishing wear. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection

$1,000 - $2,000

65 Frog Decoy 7 1⁄2 in. long

A green and yellow frog with gracefully carved legs, metal eyes, and cloth feet. Conjoined "CA" brand on bottom. Original paint with even fishing wear, flaking to cloth feet. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection

$1,000 - $2,000

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WILLIAM SOUTHARD SEAFORD, LONG ISLAND, NY

66 Great Blue Heron

WILLIAM SOUTHARD SEAFORD, LONG ISLAND, NY, C. 1880 37 in. long by 37 in. high

True working heron decoys are difficult to obtain, with decoys by known makers nearly non-existent. Heron carvings were often used as confidence decoys for other species. These waders were additionally hunted for table fare and for their plumage until they received full legal protection under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. One of the rarest of Southard species, this decoy features the maker’s long racy posture, signature circular incised eyes, and spade shaped tail. With its strong provenance and grand form, this heron stands tall among both Southards and heron decoys. The decoy was likely initially used with a single stick with the legs added while the bird was still in use.

PROVENANCE: Adele Earnest, Stony Point, New York Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection LITERATURE: William J. Mackey, Jr., American Bird Decoys, New York, NY, 1965, p. 59, plate 40, related heads illustrated. Robert Shaw, Bird Decoys of North America, New York, NY, 2010, p. 91, related example illustrated. Adele Earnest, The Art of The Decoy, New York, NY, 1965, p. 121.

$10,000 - $15,000

“When well conceived and endowed with the awkward grace of the great bird itself, a heron decoy can take command of almost any collection. “ -William J. Mackey Gunning wear, paint has been taken down, filler to original crack along bottom, and small crack at base of neck.

"Another distinguishing characteristic of the Long Island decoy was the use of natural roots and tree knots for the heads of ducks, heron and snipe... These 'knot-heads' were not only lifelike, but they were tough." -Adele Earnest, The Art of The Decoy, 1965 66

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ROGER WILLIAMS

1770-1840 | LONG ISLAND, NY

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67 Exceedingly Early Root-Head Merganser ROGER WILLIAMS (1770-1840) LONG ISLAND, NY, C. 1790 16 in. long

Williams holds the distinction of being the earliest named decoy maker. According to decoy historians Gene and Linda Kangas, “The South Shore [of Long Island] is likely where the rebirth of North American Decoy making by non-Natives began. In fact, commercial market hunting there was so rampant during the first quarter of the 19th century that it triggered New York prohibitions on sink box use for market gunning in 1838.” In describing a related example, the authors state, “An eighteenth century decoy is rare and it is rarer still to know the name of the maker. The use of one naturally-formed piece of wood provided strength over these many years for the unbroken neck, slender bill, and comb. One of three rootheads by Williams.” While root-head carvings are not common, the use of the root-head technique for a bird with pronounced crest is virtually unseen outside of this early rig. With its bill lifted skyward, fine form and condition, this animated decoy is

perhaps the best example from this early rig. The underside is twice branded “G.S.B.” Original paint with even wear to wood, touch-up to reset bill. PROVENANCE: Adele Earnest Collection Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection LITERATURE: Adele Earnest, The Art of The Decoy, New York, NY, 1965, p. 121, plate 105, similar decoy illustrated. Adele Earnest, Folk Art In America, Exton, PA, 1984, p. 134, rigmate illustrated. Gene Kangas, “Rootheads and Knotheads,” North American Decoys, Spanish Fork, UT, Winter 1976, p. 28, rigmate illustrated. Laurence Sheehan, The Birding Life, New York, NY, 2011, p. 22, exact decoy illustrated. Gene and Linda Kangas, “Older Than Methuselah,” Decoy Magazine, Lewes, DE, March/April, 2017, pp. 24-32, related decoy illustrated.

$3,000 - $6,000

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HARRY V. SHOURDS 1861-1920 | TUCKERTON, NJ

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68 Curlew

HARRY V. SHOURDS (1861-1920) TUCKERTON, NJ, C. 1890 13 3⁄4 in. long

Harry Vinuckson Shourds is the most well known decoy maker from New Jersey, he is also one of the earliest. In addition to being one of the few professional carvers of his generation, Shourds hunted ducks for market while his wife used the feathers to make pillows and bedding. An exemplary Shourds “green rig” shorebird decoy, described as such because of its hue. This curlew displays painted eyes, a splined bill, and exceptional blended feathering. This curlew resides among the finest examples by this maker known to exist. The underside retains the Purnell Collection’s “P” brand. The larger size of both the body and bill of this carving, in comparison with Lot 70, suggests that Shourds may have made representations of both the larger long-billed curlew and the smaller whimbrel. In original paint with even gunning wear, very minor touch-up to lower left flank and left side of head.

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PROVENANCE:

William H. Purnell, Jr. Collection Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE:

Richard A. Bourne Co. Inc., Very Rare and Important American Bird Decoys, From the Collection of the late William J. Mackey, Jr. of Belford, New Jersey, Boston, MA, 1973, Session IV, lot 123, rigmate illustrated. Peter Johnson and Alf Wannenburgh, The World of Shooting, Lausanne, Switzerland, 1987, pp. 259-261, exact decoy illustrated. $6,000 - $9,000


HARRY V. SHOURDS 1861-1920 | TUCKERTON, NJ

69 Black-Bellied Plover in Eclipse Plumage HARRY V. SHOURDS (1861-1920) TUCKERTON, NJ, C. 1890 9 1⁄2 in. long

A very fine example of this rare Shourds plover variation. In original paint with even gunning wear. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE:

Richard A. Bourne Co. Inc., Very Rare and Important American Bird Decoys, From the Collection of the late William J. Mackey, Jr. of Belford, New Jersey, Boston, MA, 1973, Session IV, lot 123, rigmate illustrated. Peter Johnson and Alf Wannenburgh, The World of Shooting, Lausanne, Switzerland, 1987, pp. 259-261, exact decoy illustrated $3,000 - $4,000

69

70 Curlew

HARRY V. SHOURDS (1861-1920) TUCKERTON, NJ, C. 1890 12 1⁄2 in. long

The smaller size of both the body and bill of this carving, in comparison to Lot 68, suggests that Shourds intended to represent a whimbrel. An inscription on the underside reads “TAKEN BY SAIL TO LOCUSTVILLE VA BY ASH MILLINER MARKET HUNTER 1875-1952.” Original paint with even gunning wear and original age line through neck and back. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: Peter Johnson and Alf Wannenburgh, The World of Shooting, Lausanne, Switzerland, 1987, pp. 259-261, exact decoy illustrated

$5,000 - $7,000

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141


HARRY V. SHOURDS 1861-1920 | TUCKERTON, NJ

71 Red Knot

HARRY V. SHOURDS (1861-1920) TUCKERTON, NJ, C. 1890 9 in. long

Red knot carvings by this maker are rare with the majority of Shourds decoys fashioned as plovers and yellowlegs. Original paint with gunning wear including a paint rub to tail. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: Peter Johnson and Alf Wannenburgh, The World of Shooting, Lausanne, Switzerland, 1987, pp. 259261, exact decoy illustrated. Jackson Parker, “O’Brien Classic Decoys on Display at Museum of American Folk Art,” North American Decoys, Spanish Fork, UT, Spring/Summer 1982, p. 30, exact decoy illustrated. Jeff Waingrow, “The American Decoy: Folk Sculpture from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Donal C. O’Brien, Jr.,” The Clarion: America’s Folk Art Magazine, Fall 1981, p. 31, exact decoy illustrated. EXHIBITED:

New York, New York, The Art of the American Decoy: Folk Sculpture from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Donal C. O’Brien Jr., Museum of American Folk Art, September 3–November 8, 1981.

71

$3,000 - $4,000

72 Peep

HARRY V. SHOURDS (1861-1920) TUCKERTON, NJ, C. 1890 8 1⁄4 in. long

Sanderling carvings by this maker are exceedingly rare with the majority of Shourds stick-ups fashioned as plovers and yellowlegs. This gunned over decoy is a fine example. Original paint with gunning wear and replaced bill. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: Peter Johnson and Alf Wannenburgh, The World of Shooting, Lausanne, Switzerland, 1987, pp. 259261, exact decoy illustrated.

$3,000 - $4,000

72

142


HARRY V. SHOURDS 1861-1920 | TUCKERTON, NJ

73 Black-Bellied Plover in Winter Plumage HARRY V. SHOURDS (1861-1920) TUCKERTON, NJ, C. 1890 9 1⁄2 in. long

Original paint with gunning wear. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: Peter Johnson and Alf Wannenburgh, The World of Shooting, Lausanne, Switzerland, 1987, pp. 259-261, exact decoy illustrated.

$3,000 - $4,000

73

74 Yellowlegs

HARRY V. SHOURDS (1861-1920) TUCKERTON, NJ, C. 1890 10 1⁄2 in. long

In excellent original paint with light gunning wear. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: Peter Johnson and Alf Wannenburgh, The World of Shooting, Lausanne, Switzerland, 1987, pp. 259-261, exact decoy illustrated.

$3,000 - $4,000

74

75 Black-Bellied Plover in Breeding Plumage HARRY V. SHOURDS (1861-1920) TUCKERTON, NJ, C. 1890 9 1⁄2 in. long

Original paint with gunning wear. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: Peter Johnson and Alf Wannenburgh, The World of Shooting, Lausanne, Switzerland, 1987, pp. 259-261, exact decoy illustrated.

$3,000 - $4,000

75

143


76 Three Dowitcher

JOE KING (1835-1913) MANAHAWKIN, NJ, C. 1870 9 in. long

A rig of three early dowitcher. Faint Mackey stamps on undersides. Old paint with gunning wear and two replaced bills. PROVENANCE: William J. Mackey, Jr. Collection Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection LITERATURE: William J. Mackey, Jr., American Bird Decoys, New York, NY, 1965, p. 48, plate 27, exact birds illustrated.

$600 - $900

76

77 Ruddy Turnstone

JUDGE MALATROPE KOVENHOVEN RARITAN, NJ, C. 1890 8 3â „4 in. long

One of the most elaborately painted flatties to come to market. This high-head turnstone has a whimsical flare. Original paint with gunning wear. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: John Levinson and Somers Headley, Shorebirds, Centreville, MD, 1991, p. 74, figure 6-1, rigmate illustrated.

$2,000 - $3,000

77

144


DANIEL LAKE LEEDS

1852-1922 | PLEASANTVILLE, NJ

78

78 Black-Bellied Plover

DANIEL LAKE LEEDS (1852-1922) PLEASANTVILLE, NJ, C. 1890 9 1⁄2 in. long

Describing this exact decoy and its maker in Classic Shorebird Decoys: A Portfolio of Paintings, William J. Mackey, Jr. writes, “Jeremiah Leeds, keeper of the salt flats, left one descendant, Dan Lake Leeds, who carved bird decoys including sanderling, plover, yellowlegs, turnstones, and curlew. His own rig, numbering over fifty snipe, came to light a few years ago. It was probably the greatest single find of its kind in New Jersey decoy history. The Dan Leeds birds have a stylized exaggeration that has an artistic appeal. The blackbellied plover have heads that indicate their local name, ‘bull heads’; the sanderling have a slimness that suggests their speed before the advancing waves. Paint patterns are bright and adequate, and the technique is unusual; Dan used thick oily paint and laid it on instead of brushing it out. This viscous coating made a durable finish, and the rig was found in mint condition. The old gentleman lavished great care on his decoys during their years of service. They stand on their own merit and have little in common with their New Jersey contemporaries.”

The underside bears a “Mackey Collection” stamp. Original paint with light gunning wear, age line in breast, cracks in head reset with some filler added. PROVENANCE: William J. Mackey, Jr. Collection Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection, acquired from auction of the above LITERATURE: Milton C. Weiler and William J. Mackey, Jr., Classic Shorebird Decoys: A Portfolio of Paintings, New York, NY, 1971, plate 11, exact decoy illustrated. Laurence Sheehan, The Sporting Life, New York, NY, 1992, p. 80, exact decoy illustrated. Richard A. Bourne Co., Inc., Very Rare and Important American Bird Decoys from the Collection of the Late William J. Mackey, Jr., of Belford, New Jersey, Hyannis, MA, Session V, July 9, 1974, lot 49, exact decoy illustrated.

$6,000 - $9,000

145


WILLARD C. BALDWIN 1890-1979 | STRATFORD, CT

79 Preening Black Duck

WILLARD C. BALDWIN (1890-1979) STRATFORD, CT, C. 1925 14 3⁄4 in. long

A hollow Stratford preening black duck with scratch paint on the head. The underside bears the maker's crisp "WCB" rig brand and was later signed by Baldwin. In original paint with gunning wear. PROVENANCE: Willard C. Baldwin Rig Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection, acquired from the above, 1969 LITERATURE: Peter Johnson and Alf Wannenburgh, The World of Shooting, Lausanne, Switzerland, 1987, pp. 259-261, exact decoy illustrated.

79

$2,000 - $4,000

80 Swimming Black Duck

WILLARD C. BALDWIN (1890-1979) STRATFORD, CT, C. 1925 17 1⁄4 in. long

A hollow Stratford black duck with scratch paint on the head and feather paint across the body. The underside bears the maker's crisp "WCB" rig brand. Original paint with light gunning wear and a one-quarter bill repair. PROVENANCE: Willard C. Baldwin Rig Roswell Bliss Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection, acquired from the above

80

LITERATURE: Henry C. Chitwood, Connecticut Decoys, West Chester, PA, 1987, p. 81, rigmate illustrated.

$1,500 - $2,500

146


ALBERT DAVIDS LAING 1811-1886 | STRATFORD, CT

81

81 Preening Broadbill Drake

ALBERT DAVIDS LAING (1811-1886) STRATFORD, CT 12 in. long

A boldly carved preening broadbill drake branded “F. BURRITT” on the underside. Francis Burritt (1850-1928) was the designer of the Sandbagger “EZ Sloat” sailing vessel and the founder of the Indian Harbor Yacht Club, Greenwich, CT. Featuring Charles E. “Shang” Wheeler’s best scratch comb feather paint. The provenance of this decoy reads like decoy maker and collector royalty, having been gunned over by Albert Laing, Francis Burritt, and Shang Wheeler, before being retired by Thomas Marshall, and acquired by Donal O’Brien, Jr. In Wheeler repaint with gunning wear.

PROVENANCE: Albert Laing Rig Commodore Francis Burritt Rig Charles E. “Shang” Wheeler Rig Thomas C. Marshall Rig/Collection, acquired from the above Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection, acquired from the above LITERATURE: William J. Mackey, Jr., American Bird Decoys, New York, NY, 1965, p. 68, plate 48, exact decoy illustrated, incorrectly attributed to Ben Holmes. Quintina Colio, American Decoys, Ephrata, PA, 1972, p. 11, exact decoy illustrated, incorrectly attributed to Ben Holmes. Henry C. Chitwood, Connecticut Decoys, West Chester, PA, 1987, back dust-jacket cover and p. 65, rigmate illustrated.

$8,000 - $12,000 147


JOEL D. BARBER 1876-1952 | WILTON, CT

82 Oversize Broadbill Drake JOEL D. BARBER (1876-1952) WILTON, CT 15 in. long

Barber only produced approximately fifty decoys in his lifetime. Branded "BARBER DECOYS" on the underside. In original paint with gunning wear and age line in right side of neck. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: Henry C. Chitwood, Connecticut Decoys, West Chester, PA, 1987, p. 165, exact decoy illustrated.

$2,000 - $4,000

82

83 Bronze Duck Head

JOEL D. BARBER (1876-1952) WILTON, CT, 1926 6 in. long by 3 1⁄2 in. high

Of this bronze black duck edition Joel Barber writes in Wild Fowl Decoys, “In Plate No. 99 I show a decoy head cast in bronze. I whittled it myself but used as a model an old decoy from the lower Jersey Coast. The body of this decoy was little more than a float to receive a skin but the head was very fine. My jackknife copy of this head reproduced in bronze was sold by art galleries over a period of several years and in considerable numbers. I have always considered the unknown original maker a real artist. Even though he lived and worked, unknown on the Jersey barrens, his Black Duck head has been perpetuated. The feather of accomplishment does not belong to me. I merely whittled what he conceived.”

LITERATURE: Joel Barber, Wild Fowl Decoys, Garden City, NY, 1937, p. 131, plate 99, related example illustrated. Joel Barber, Wild Fowl Decoys, New York, NY, 1954, p. 129, plate129, similar example illustrated.

$1,200 - $1,800

On the right side of the base is “B/26 (c)” and on the left side of the base is “GORHAM CO FOUNDERS OFSV.” While the edition size is unknown, this represents one of only a handful that have surfaced in the last fifty years. Original patina. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection 83

148


MARK ENGLISH

1872-1968 | NORTHFIELD, NJ

84

84 Long-Tailed Duck Drake MARK ENGLISH (1872-1968) NORTHFIELD, NJ, C. 1900 13 in. long

A fine hollow example of a very rare species from the region. The maker's early hand painted initials, "M.E." are under the tail. In original paint with even gunning wear. PROVENANCE: Mark English Rig Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection LITERATURE: Paul A. Johnsgard, The Bird Decoy: An American Art Form, Lincoln, NE, 1976, p. 66, pl. 62, rigmate illustrated.

$6,000 - $8,000

149


TAYLOR BOYD

1856-1944 | PERRYVILLE, MD

85

85 Canvasback Drake TAYLOR BOYD (1856-1944) PERRYVILLE, MD, C. 1900 16 1⁄2 in. long by 9 in. high

Boyd’s stately high-heads are perhaps the most regal of the Upper Chesapeake Bay region. Original paint with gunning wear, faint touch-up to hairline neck crack, and repair to underside of bill. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

$4,000 - $6,000

86 Canvasback Wing Duck

UPPER CHESAPEAKE BAY, MARYLAND, C. 1900 16 in. long

A rare wooden wing duck for use resting on the side of an Upper Bay sink box. Old working repaint with gunning wear. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

$1,000 - $2,000

87 Preening Canvasback

JAMES “CORB” REED (1897-1987) CHINCOTEAGUE, VA, C. 1970 12 1⁄2 in. long

A raised wing preening canvasback with carved feet. The underside is stamped “J REED” and branded “ELW.” In original paint with light wear. PROVENANCE: Eben L. Waterfield Collection Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

$500 - $700

150


86

87

151


TOM SCHROEDER 1885-1976 | DETROIT, MI

88

88 Turned-Head Redhead Drake TOM SCHROEDER (1885-1976) DETROIT, MI, 1958 13 in. long

According to author Bernard Crandell, Schroder was motivated to make his finest works in the hope of competing against the top competitive carver of the day, Charles E. “Shang” Wheeler (1872-1949). Schroder’s desire never came true as Wheeler passed away the year Schroeder first entered the New York show. Although made as a working decoy, this carving is comparable to the maker’s finest contest winners. A maker’s label is affixed to the bottom. Excellent original paint with gunning wear, some touch-up to lower sides, neck seam, and around eyes.

152

PROVENANCE: Ron Swanson Collection Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection LITERATURE: Bernard W. Crandell, Decoying: St. Clair to St. Lawrence, Erin, ON, 1988, p. 51.

$4,000 - $6,000


JOSEPH SIEGER 1871-1959 | TUSTIN, WI

89

89 High-Head Canvasback Drake JOSEPH SIEGER (1871-1959) TUSTIN, WI, C. 1900 15 in. long by 10 in. high

Hailing from the northern shores of Lake Poygan, Wisconsin, Joseph Sieger (1871-1959) spent his life on the family farm. From this location he witnessed the annual canvasback migrations, and his observations appear to have informed his fine carvings of the species. Sieger’s craftsmanship extended beyond making sought-after decoy carvings; he also created excellent violins, skiffs, and skis. This hollow decoy is an excellent early example of Sieger’s best work. Donal O’Brien always treasured the rigmate held in the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Center and was thrilled to obtain this decoy. Excellent original paint with minor discoloration and even gunning wear.

PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: Beatrix T. Rumford and Carolyn J. Weekley, Treasures of American Folk Art, Boston, MA, 1989, p. 77, rigmate illustrated. Sotheby’s and Guyette and Schmidt, American Waterfowl Decoys: The Distinguished Collection of Dr. James M. McCleery, New York, NY, 2000, p. 63, lot 119, related example illustrated.

$15,000 - $20,000

153


PHINEAS REEVES 1833-1896 | LONG POINT, ON

90 Early Canada Goose

PHINEAS REEVES (1833-1896) LONG POINT, ONTARIO, CANADA, C. 1880 22 in. long by 11 1⁄2 in. high

An exceptional hollow goose carving with a thin bottom board fastened with cut nails. Branded “G.BH” on both sides for hunter George B. Harris, a member of the Long Point Company (est. 1866) from 1877 to 1896. This flat bottomed decoy with a raised neck seat is the classic model that was emulated by Reeves’ descendants. Discussing Reeves, author Bernie Gates states, “He was particularly noted for his classic hollow Canada Geese.” Excellent original paint with gunning wear, minor rub to top of head, crack in neck with touch-up, and crack in bill. PROVENANCE: George B. Harris Rig Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

154

LITERATURE: Laurence Sheehan, The Birding Life, New York, NY, 2011, p. 90, exact decoy illustrated. Bernie Gates, Ontario Decoys, Kingston, Ontario, 1982, p. 17. Peter Johnson and Alf Wannenburgh, The World of Shooting, Lausanne, Switzerland, 1987, pp. 259-261, exact decoy illustrated. Loy S. Harrell, Jr., Decoys: North America’s One Hundred Greatest, Iola, WI, 2000, pp. 192-192, rigmate illustrated.

$20,000 - $40,000


90

155


JOHN R. WELLS 1861-1953 | TORONTO, ON

91

91 Pintail Drake

JOHN R. WELLS (1861-1953) TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA, C. 1900 15 in. long

John R. Wells, like George Warin (1830-1905) (see lot 7), was a Toronto boat builder. This pintail represents Wells' finest grade of carving with pronounced head and tail features and excellent combed and blended paint. The underside bears George W. Thompson's "G.W.T."-in-agoose ink stamp. Strong original paint with even gunning wear and crack in tail. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection

$6,000 - $9,000

156


JOHN R. WELLS

1861-1953 | TORONTO, ON

92

92 Mallard Drake

JOHN R. WELLS (1861-1953) TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA, C. 1900 17 in. long

This exact decoy and an image of its brand were used in Crandell’s 1975 article revealing John R. Wells as the maker of this and other excellent Toronto decoys. Previously, Wells decoys had been attributed to fellow Toronto boat builder James Warin (1832-1884). This hollow mallard drake has a crisp “J.R.W. MAKER” brand on the bottom board. Original paint with gunning wear and touch-up to two shot scars on right side.

PROVENANCE: Lowell Jackson Collection Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection LITERATURE: Bernard W. Crandell, “JRW Maker,” North American Decoys, Winter 1975, pp. 32-36, exact decoy illustrated.

$6,000 - $9,000

157


PHINEAS REEVES 1833-1896 | LONG POINT, ON

93 Early High-Head Pintail Drake

PHINEAS REEVES (1833-1896) LONG POINT, ONTARIO, CANADA, C. 1866 17 in. long

After emigrating from England, Phineas settled in St. Williams and Port Rowan, Ontario where he took work as a carriage and furniture painter. He also took up duck hunting in the marshes around Long Point and developed a strong enough reputation to be hired as the first punter (guide) of the newly founded Long Point Company in 1866. Among the founders were David Tisdale whose “DT” brand is found on this decoy and others by the maker. This pintail likely represents one of the earliest known Reeves decoys, thus one of the earliest from Canada. The form, paint, and construction are distinctly the work of Reeves. His classic later carvings, like his sons’ and grandson’s, went on to have flatter bottoms but retained the same distinct paint application, multi-screw head attachment, and reared-back head. In addition to Tisdale’s brand, “AH” is painted on the underside for fellow club member Augustus Hemenway (1853–1931). Notably, Hemenway’s wife Harriet (18581960) was a co-founder of the first Audubon Society. Sporting artist Frank W. Benson was good friends with

Detail of lots 90 and 93.

158

Hemenway and the two shot together at Long Point, likely over this very decoy. In original paint with gunning wear, old second coat of white on lower sides, chip to left side of tail. PROVENANCE: David Tisdale Rig Augustus Hemenway Rig Bernard Crandell Collection Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection LITERATURE: Paul A. Johnsgard, The Bird Decoy: An American Art Form, Lincoln, NE, 1976, p. 99, pl. 104, exact decoy illustrated. Bernard W. Crandall, Decoying, St. Clair to the St. Lawrence, Erin, ON, 1988, p. 188, exact decoy illustrated twice, and p. 87, early rigmate redhead illustrated. Clune Walsh, Jr. and Lowell G. Jackson, Waterfowl Decoys of Michigan and the Lake St. Clair Region, Detroit, MI, 1983, p. 99, plate 125, exact decoy illustrated. Bernie and Rae Giacoletto, The Decoy Hunter, Clinton, Indiana, May/June 1981, p. 4, exact decoy illustrated.

$5,000 - $8,000


93

159


ISAIAH BROWN

C. 1890 | PORT ROWAN, ON

94

94 High-Head Canvasback Drake

ISAIAH BROWN PORT ROWAN, ONTARIO, CANADA, C. 1890 16 1⁄2 in. long

This stately canvasback has fine lines that accurately represent this difficult to carve species. Light as a feather, this hollow decoy shows the traits typical for the St. Clair Flats region. The bill reveals intricate incised carving and pronounced cheek carving highlights the head. The bottom has three different owners’ marks, attesting to the bird’s early construction. The “T-BC” brand stands for the Toronto Big Creek Club (1889-1915) on Long Point. Also branded “C” and “JAT.” The latter is for Joseph A. Tonelli. Original paint with even gunning wear. PROVENANCE:

160

Toronto Big Creek Club Rig

Joseph A. Tonelli Collection Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection LITERATURE: Bernard W. Crandall, Decoying, St. Clair to the St. Lawrence, Erin, ON, 1988, p. 90, related example.

$5,000 - $7,000


IVAR GUSTAV FERLUND 1881-1933 | HAMILTON, ON

95

95 Early Turned-Head Canvasback Drake IVAR GUSTAV FERNLUND (1881-1933) HAMILTON, ONTARIO, CANADA, C. 1915 15 in. long

Ivar Gustav Fernlund was raised in Michigan where he began his career as a patternmaker. He was promoted to foreman and transferred to Hamilton, Ontario, where he took up waterfowling. As a professional patternmaker, his earliest decoys were finer than most would ever accomplish, as this canvasback demonstrates. Paul Brisco chose this exact decoy for the dust jacket cover of his Waterfowl Decoys of Southwestern Ontario book. Brisco writes that this carving, “with its fine profile, tapered body and turned head is an exquisite decoy. Longer and narrower than his later cans, it has heavy oil painting with cross-

thatched combing to give a feathered look and help cut glare.” Original paint with some touch-up and gunning wear. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: R. Paul Brisco, Waterfowl Decoys of Southwestern Ontario, Erin, ON, 1986, front dust jacket cover and pl. 68, exact decoy illustrated.

$5,000 - $7,000

161


CARRIAGE HOUSE RIG C. 1890 | LACON, IL

96

96 Redhead Drake

97 Premiere Grade Blue-Winged Teal Drake

This celebrated rig was found in a carriage house on the Ernest Lehmann estate, in Lake Villa, Illinois. Like other birds from this rig, the hollow construction is superb, this decoy’s body seam remains perfectly tight and virtually invisible. The body is finished with stylish wing carving and paint patterns. The snaky head is turned to the right. Early working repaint with gunning wear and partially restored bill and some touch-up.

In outstanding original paint with gunning wear and hairline crack in back of neck.

LITERATURE: Russ J. Goldberger and Alan G. Haid. Mason Decoys, A Complete Pictorial Guide, Lewes, DE, 2014, p. 56, similar decoys illustrated.

PROVENANCE:

EXHIBITED:

CARRIAGE HOUSE RIG LACON, IL, C. 1890 13 in. long

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: Richard A. Bourne Co. Inc., Very Rare and Important American Bird Decoys, From the Collection of the late William J. Mackey, Jr. of Belford, New Jersey, Boston, MA, 1973, Session I, lot 84, rigmate illustrated. Robert H. Boyle, “The Art of Deception,” Audubon, May-June 2002, New York, NY, P.47, exact decoy illustrated.

$3,000 - $5,000

MASON DECOY FACTORY (1896-1924) DETROIT, MI, C. 1915 13 in. long

PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

New York, New York, The Art of the American Decoy: Folk Sculpture from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Donal C. O’Brien Jr., Museum of American Folk Art, September 3– November 8, 1981. $4,000 - $6,000

98 Premiere Grade Green-Winged Teal Hen MASON DECOY FACTORY (1896-1924) DETROIT, MI, C. 1915 12 1⁄4 in. long

In outstanding original paint with very minor gunning wear. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

$4,000 - $6,000

162


MASON DECOY FACTORY

1896-1924 | DETROIT, MI

97

98

163


MASON DECOY FACTORY 1896-1924 | DETROIT, MI

99

99 Robin Snipe

100 Black-Bellied Plover

A glass-eye robin snipe in spring plumage. Original paint with light gunning wear and minor flaking around bill.

A “fat-bodied” plover with tack eyes. Original paint with even gunning wear.

PROVENANCE:

PROVENANCE: Tabusintac Club, New Brunswick Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

MASON DECOY FACTORY (1896-1924) DETROIT, MI, C. 1910 10 in. long

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: Russ J. Goldberger and Alan G. Haid, Mason Decoys, A Complete Pictorial Guide, Lewes, DE, 2014, p. 99, similar decoy illustrated. Sotheby’s and Guyette and Schmidt, American Waterfowl Decoys: The Distinguished Collection of Dr. James M. McCleery, New York, NY, 2000, p. 64, lot 123, related example illustrated.

$2,000 - $3,000 164

100

MASON DECOY FACTORY (1896-1924) DETROIT, MI, C. 1910 10 1⁄2 in. long

$3,000 - $5,000


MASON DECOY FACTORY

1896-1924 | DETROIT, MI

101

101 Early Premiere Grade Black Duck MASON DECOY FACTORY (1896-1924) DETROIT, MI, C. 1905 17 3⁄4 in. long

A superb, hollow black duck hen with the original Mason Factory “PREMIERE” painted stencil on the bottom and strong swirl paint.

LITERATURE: Russ J. Goldberger and Alan G. Haid. Mason Decoys, A Complete Pictorial Guide, Lewes, DE, 2014, p. 28, similar decoy illustrated.

One of two Mason black ducks obtained from Donal C. O’Brien, Sr. The rigmate was traded to William J. Mackey, Jr. In original paint with light gunning wear, a few faint age lines and two small screw holes on right side.

EXHIBITED:

PROVENANCE: Donal C. O’Brien, Sr. Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection, acquired from the above

$1,000 - $2,000

New York, New York, The Art of the American Decoy: Folk Sculpture from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Donal C. O’Brien Jr., Museum of American Folk Art, September 3– November 8, 1981.

165


102

103

166


CHRISTO EARNEST

C. 1900 | BURANO, ITALY

104

102 Wood Pigeon Pair

HARRY E. BODDY WALDERSLADE, KENT, ENGLAND, C. 1940 14 1⁄2 in. long

A pair of English wood pigeon decoys with carved wings, cast lead bills, and excellent paint. Original paint with gunning wear, the smaller bird has some flaking. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: Joel Barber, Wild Fowl Decoys, New York, NY, 1954, p. 74, plate 54, related decoy illustrated.

$600 - $800

Jeff Waingrow, “The American Decoy: Folk Sculpture from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Donal C. O’Brien, Jr.,” The Clarion: America’s Folk Art Magazine, Fall 1981, p. 32, exact decoy illustrated. EXHIBITED: New York, New York, The Art of the American Decoy: Folk Sculpture from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Donal C. O’Brien Jr., Museum of American Folk Art, September 3– November 8, 1981.

$1,800 - $2,400

104 Long-Billed Curlew

103 Blue-Winged Teal Hen

CHRISTO EARNEST BURANO, ITALY, C. 1900 18 in. long

The underside of this hollow decoy bears the maker’s “G.J.C” brand. In original paint with even gunning wear and working touch-up to rubs on head.

This large curlew or “Chiurlo Maggiore” as it was called in Italy, was found near Venice on the island of Burano by Joseph B. French. The Italians, who used this decoy, guided Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) who likely shot over it. Original paint with gunning wear and crack to underside.

JUDGE GLENN J. CAMERON (1882-1958) CHILLICOTHE, IL, C. 1910 11 1⁄2 in. long

PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: Jackson Parker, “O’Brien Classic Decoys on Display at Museum of American Folk Art,” North American Decoys, Spanish Fork, UT, Spring/Summer 1982, p. 38, exact decoy illustrated.

PROVENANCE: Joseph B. French Collection Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection LITERATURE: Joseph B. French, “A Collector Tours Europe,” Decoy Collector’s Guide, July-Sept., 1965, p. 7, rigmates illustrated.

$2,500 - $3,500

167


168


THE DONAL C. O’BRIEN, JR. COLLECTION

OF IMPORTANT AMERICAN SPORTING ART AND DECOYS

SESSION II PAINTINGS AND WORKS ON PAPER

169


ROLAND CLARK 1874-1957

105 Roland H. Clark (1874-1957) Break of Day – Pintails, 1935 signed and dated “Roland Clark 1935” lower left oil on canvas, 28 by 36 in. Roland Clark was known as a premier waterfowl painter. He was born in New Rochelle, New York, and studied at the Art Students League in Manhattan. After living in the Tidewater region of Virginia for several years, where he was able to enjoy hunting and other outdoor pursuits, Clark returned to New York City and devoted himself to painting and illustrating full-time. Beginning in 1937, the Derrydale Press reproduced two of Clark’s watercolors of wildfowl every year in limited edition prints. In addition to this, he submitted illustrations to Ducks Unlimited, a booklet which was published by the More Game Birds in America Foundation. In 1938 one of Clark’s images of pintail ducks was chosen as the fifth Federal Duck Stamp design. Clark’s devotion to and execution of waterfowl subjects places him amongst the elite depicting the genre.

170

This quintessential work by the artist depicts a flight of seven pintail ducks leaping from the marsh at dawn, with the sky in vivid shades of orange and blue. O’Brien befriended Clark at an early age and went on to become one of the artist’s top collectors. Break of Day - Pintails is considered one of Clark’s true masterworks and is the pinnacle work by the artist from the O’Brien Collection. PROVENANCE: Donal C. O’Brien, Sr. Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection LITERATURE: Laurence Sheehan, The Sporting Life, New York, NY, 1992, pp. 82-83, illustrated.

$20,000 - $30,000


105

171


ROLAND CLARK 1874-1957

106

106 Roland H. Clark (1874-1957) Sunset - Black Ducks signed “Roland Clark” lower right oil on canvas, 24 by 30 in. Abercrombie & Fitch Co., New York label on back PROVENANCE: Donal C. O’Brien, Sr., acquired from Abercrombie and Fitch, New York, NY, c. 1942 Constance B. O’Brien, by descent from the above Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection, by descent from the above

$8,000 - $12,000

Sunset - Black Ducks hanging in the O’Brien home c. 1945

172


JOHN WHORF 1903-1959

107

107 John Whorf (1903-1959) Early Morning, East Harbor signed “John Whorf” lower right watercolor, 14 1⁄4 by 21 1⁄4 in. titled on Milch Galleries, New York label on back Born in Winthrop, Massachusetts, John Whorf spent many years painting the seascapes around Provincetown, Massachusetts. As a young man, he studied in Boston at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and the St. Botolph Studio under Philip Leslie Hale (1865-1931) and Reginald Sherman Kidd (1877-1952). In 1919, after recovering from a paralyzing accident, Whorf traveled to Europe. He painted throughout France, Portugal, and Morocco, gradually shifting to painting watercolors as well as oils. Whorf held his first one-man show in 1921, and continued to hold them twice a year for the next thirty-five years.

Upon returning to America, Whorf continued his studies with famed American painter John Singer Sargent (19031959) in Boston. Whorf married Vivienne Wing in 1925 and fathered four children. He and his family lived in Brookline and spent summers in Provincetown until 1937 when they relocated permanently to the lower Cape. In 1938, Harvard College conferred on Whorf an Honorary Master of Fine Arts degree. His work is in major collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art, both in New York City. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

$3,000 - $5,000

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ROLAND CLARK 1874-1957

108

109

108 Roland H. Clark (1874-1957) Mallards signed "Roland Clark" lower left oil on celluloid, 4 by 3 in. PROVENANCE: Donal C. O'Brien, Sr. Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection

$800 - $1,200

109 Roland H. Clark (1874-1957) Canvasbacks signed “Roland Clark” lower left oil on celluloid, 4 by 3 in. PROVENANCE: Donal C. O’Brien, Sr. Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

$800 - $1,200

110

174


WILLIAM J. KOELPIN 1938-1996

110 William J. Koelpin (1938-1996) Storm Warning, 1990 signed and dated “Wm. J. Koelpin © 90” on base bronze, 27 by 12 by 11 1⁄2 in. inscribed “Storm Warning” and “1/24” on base edition 1 of 24 William Koelpin was an avid hunter and fisherman from Wisconsin. He went on to become a celebrated sporting artist who excelled in a number of mediums, including bronze, paint, and wood. Throughout his career Koelpin displayed his passion for the outdoors through his accurate and detailed works. His first sold-out exhibit was at the Midwest Decoy Collectors Annual Show in the mid-1970s.

Koelpin enjoyed many honors in his time, including the “Best in World” Award from the Ward Museum in Salisbury, Maryland. He was also named “One of America’s Premier Artists” by the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, Wisconsin. Since its creation Storm Warning has been coveted by collectors, becoming one the most iconic waterfowling bronzes of all time. A rare opportunity to own the number one casting of this iconic waterfowl hunting bronze. PROVENANCE: Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection, acquired from Copley Fine Art Auctions, The Winter Sale 2012, lot 259

$8,000 - $12,000

175


HARRY CURIEUX ADAMSON 1916-2012

111 Harry Curieux Adamson (1916-2012) Medina County Impressions, 1975 signed “Harry Curieux Adamson” lower right oil on board, 21 by 33 1⁄4 in. Harry Adamson was one of the premier waterfowl painters of the last fifty years. Born in Seattle in 1916, he studied under Paul J. Fair who is best known for his wildlife photography. He began painting after serving in World War II, selling a painting to the president of Mexico within the first decade of his career. His success continued and he was given the honor of being the first California Waterfowl Association Artist of the Year, as well as the 1979 Ducks Unlimited Artist of the Year. His works have been included in shows at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the British Museum, and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Admired by his fellow artists, Adamson had a knack for capturing birds in their natural habitats. His thoroughly detailed landscapes are the perfect backdrop for his accurately painted waterfowl.

Adamson recounted the experience that served as the inspiration for this work in Diane Inman’s book From Marsh to Mountain: The Art of Harry Curieux Adamson. Inman writes, “Eventually, Harry painted Medina County Impressions, a large canvas featuring what he called a ‘Woolworth’s window’ of green-wing teal, widgeon, gadwall, blue-wing teal, pintails, mallards, and even some moor hens. Adamson explains, ‘I actually think there were about nine species, and that’s exactly what we saw as we walked up that creek.’” PROVENANCE: Private Collection, Virginia Donal C. O’Brien, Jr., Collection, acquired from Copley Fine Art Auctions, The Winter Sale 2013, lot 29 LITERATURE: Diane K. Inman, From Marsh to Mountain: The Art of Harry Curieux Adamson, San Francisco, CA, 1999, p. 107, illustrated.

$20,000 - $40,000

176


111

177


HARRY CURIEUX ADAMSON 1916-2012

112

112 Harry Curieux Adamson (1916-2012) Evening Flotilla - Canvasbacks, 1975 signed “Harry Curieux Adamson-” lower right oil on board, 24 by 36 in. Wild Wings, Inc. created a limited edition print of this famous work in 1976. PROVENANCE: Wild Wings, Inc. The Collection of William Shay, Reno, Nevada Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection, acquired from Coeur D’Alene Art Auction, 7/26/2003, lot 30 LITERATURE: Diane K. Inman, From Marsh to Mountain: The Art of Harry Curieux Adamson, San Francisco, CA, 1999, pp. 126-7, illustrated. Sportsman’s Edge, Ltd. Print Catalogue, New York, NY, 1981, p. 11, print of painting illustrated.

$10,000 - $15,000

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113

113 Harry Curieux Adamson (1916-2012) Canvasbacks signed “Harry Curieux Adamson -” lower right oil on canvas, 21 by 28 in. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection, acquired in

1956 $6,000 - $9,000

179


GEORGE COPE 1855-1929

114

114 George Cope (1855-1929) Canvasback on a Door, 1910 signed and dated “Geo. Cope 1910” lower right oil on canvas, 22 by 16 1⁄4 in. Vose Galleries, Boston label on back George Cope was a Pennsylvania artist who trained with the landscape painter Herman Herzog in 1876 before becoming a leading trompe l’oeil painter. He traveled west to the Pacific in the 1870s and upon his return set up his studio providing still life paintings for prominent Philadelphia families. Cope was a keen outdoorsman who hunted and fished and is known for the detail and accuracy of his hanging game paintings. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

$4,000 - $6,000

180


THOMAS AQUINAS DALY

B. 1937

115

115 Thomas Aquinas Daly (b. 1937) Bay Ducks with Redheads signed “TA Daly” lower left watercolor, 8 1⁄8 by 11 1⁄4 in. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: Laurence Sheehan, The Sporting Life, New York, NY, 1992, p. 82, illustrated.

$1,000 - $2,000

116 Thomas Aquinas Daly (b. 1937) River Guide on a Big Pool signed “TA Daly” lower left watercolor, 8 1⁄2 by 12 3⁄4 in. Grand Central Art Galleries, Inc., New York label on back PROVENANCE:

116

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

EXHIBITED:

New York, New York, Thomas Daly: More of Nature’s Quiet Places, Grand Central Art Galleries, Inc., April 9-27, 1985. LITERATURE: Laurence Sheehan, The Sporting Life, New York, NY, 1992, p. 85, illustrated. $1,000 - $2,000

181


OGDEN M. PLEISSNER 1905-1983

117

117 Ogden M. Pleissner (1905-1983) Study for Big Fish Rise signed “Pleissner” lower left watercolor, 5 by 9 1⁄2 in. inscribed “To my friend Don O’Brien / with all good wishes Ogden” on back In The Art of Ogden M. Pleissner by Peter Bergh, Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. reflects on Big Fish Rise, the painting that this work was a study for, “When I asked Ogden to do this picture, I told him that I wanted a painting that depicted what is to me the most exciting moment in outdoor sports-

118 Ogden M. Pleissner (1905-1983) Riverman, 1942 signed “Ogden M Pleissner” lower right drypoint, 4 3⁄4 by 3 1⁄2 in. edition of 15 The Old Print Shop, New York label on back Pleissner published only eight drypoints and Riverman is one of his most rare, limited to only fifteen prints. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: John T. Ordeman, The American Sporting Print, Ringwood, NJ, 2007, p. 135, illustrated. Peter Bergh, The Art of Ogden M. Pleissner, Boston, MA, 1984, p. 106, illustrated.

$1,000 - $2,000

182

-the rise of a large Atlantic salmon the moment just before the fly is taken. The salmon has trailed the swinging fly and is just about to come down on it. The angler and the guides know it, and their concentration is total. In another moment, all hell will break loose and this team will have their hands full.” PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: Peter Bergh, The Art of Ogden M. Pleissner, Boston, MA, 1984, p. 82.

$3,000 - $5,000

118


119

OGDEN M. PLEISSNER

120

1905-1983

119 Ogden M. Pleissner (1905-1983) Salmon Guide, 1942

120 Ogden M. Pleissner (1905-1983) Reflections, 1942

signed "Ogden M Pleissner" lower right drypoint, 9 3⁄4 by 7 3⁄4 in. edition of 60 The Old Print Shop, New York label on back

signed “Ogden M Pleissner” lower right drypoint, 9 3⁄4 by 7 3⁄4 in. edition of 60 The Old Print Shop, New York label on back

PROVENANCE:

PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: John T. Ordeman, The American Sporting Print, Ringwood, NJ, 2007, p. 132, illustrated. Peter Bergh, The Art of Ogden M. Pleissner, Boston, MA, 1984, p. 106, illustrated.

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: Peter Bergh, The Art of Ogden M. Pleissner, Boston, MA, 1984, p. 106, illustrated.

$1,000 - $2,000

$1,000 - $2,000

121

121 Ogden M. Pleissner (1905-1983) The River at Evening, 1942 signed "Ogden M Pleissner" lower right drypoint, 7 3⁄4 by 11 3⁄4 in. edition of 60 The Old Print Shop, New York label on back PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: John T. Ordeman, The American Sporting Print, Ringwood, NJ, 2007, p. 134, illustrated. Peter Bergh, The Art of Ogden M. Pleissner, Boston, MA, 1984, p. 106, illustrated.

$1,000 - $2,000

122

122 Ogden M. Pleissner (1905-1983) The River Blind, 1944 signed "Ogden M. Pleissner" lower right drypoint, 9 3⁄4 by 14 3⁄4 in. edition of 60 The Old Print Shop, New York label on back PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: John T. Ordeman, The American Sporting Print, Ringwood, NJ, 2007, p. 134, illustrated. Peter Bergh, The Art of Ogden M. Pleissner, Boston, MA, 1984, p. 106, illustrated.

$1,000 - $2,000 183


OGDEN M. PLEISSNER 1905-1983

123 Ogden M. Pleissner (1905-1983) Down’s Gulch signed “Pleissner” lower right oil on canvas, 24 by 36 in. titled on the Crossroads of Sport, New York label and with Sportsman’s Edge, Ltd., New York label on back Donal O’Brien, who is noted as “a close freind of the artist” by Peter Bengh in The Art of Ogden M. Pleissner, refelcts, “Ogden Pleissner was one of those special friends who added a unique dimension to the lives of those who knew him. You were stretched and expanded when in Ogden’s company. As a man and artist, Ogden was the person he wanted to be. He was a natural. He was also an extraordinary blend of things that in most people might seem inconsistent, but in Ogden were balanced and right. Ogden had great style: he was learned, sophisticated, even elegant, but he could cuss like a trooper and tell the saltiest stories in camp. He was gentle, sometimes shy, but he had a sharp wit and a temper that would come on like a line storm - and be over just as quickly. Ogden was equally at home in the club-rooms of the Century Association or in Sam Webb’s Three Islands Camp on the Grand Cascapedia. He could move from a driven grouse butt in Scotland to the ruffed grouse covers of Vermont without breaking stride. He was a man’s man and a ladies’ man. And whatever he did, he did easily, with grace and style and dignity and in the most modest and natural manner. Ogden brightened things up - when he was around things were a little sharper and a little clearer. One of my hunting partners likes to say, ‘Only a man who has owned a really great gun-dog knows what one is, and what he’ll someday be missing. Some voids never get filled.’ Ogden Pleissner’s many friends will know what that fellow was talking about.”

184

Often compared to the celebrated watercolor Blue Boat on the St. Anne, Down’s Gulch, an oil, is one of Pleissner’s most prized and revered paintings. In this impressive work Pleissner successfully tackles the challenges of painting an on-the-water action scene, in bright sunlight, rewarding the artist and viewers with one of the sport’s most vivid depictions of a dynamic moment. This original oil was selected by the Angler’s Club of New York for its 75th Anniversary limited edition print, alternatively titled The Run Downstream. A related watercolor, also titled Down’s Gulch, sold at Christie’s in December of 2005 for $84,000. The catalog entry notes, it “depicts Mrs. Guy Cary playing a salmon weighing 28 pounds from the Restigouche River in New Brunswick, Canada, on June 27, 1936.” PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: Peter M. Bergh, The Art of Ogden M. Pleissner, Boston, MA, 1983, p. 73, p. 109, print illustrated. Christie’s New York, Important American Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, December 1, 2005, lot 115, watercolor illustrated.

$80,000 - $120,000


123

185


OGDEN M. PLEISSNER 1905-1983

“Don was one of the best Atlantic salmon anglers I ever fished with. He enjoyed all salmon rivers but had a real passion for the Grand Cascapedia and the Moisie where he caught a number of huge salmon over the years. One day when we were fishing together I asked Don the secret to his success. He told me that Lee Wulff had taught him to think like a salmon." - Bill Taylor, President of the Atlantic Salmon Federation

124 Ogden M. Pleissner (1905-1983) Rivermen signed "Pleissner" lower right watercolor, 20 by 30 in. In The Art of Ogden M. Pleissner, Peter Bergh quotes the artist recalling, “There were a lot of people who had salmon rivers and fishing camps who liked my work and who would ask me to come up and paint something on their river...I think a lot of these people would ask me to come back because I knew one end of a salmon rod from the other and I wasn’t a dummy at fly fishing.” Rivermen depicts four boldly painted guides that await their anglers for a session of Atlantic salmon fishing. PROVENANCE: Sportsman’s Edge, Ltd., New York Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection LITERATURE: Peter M. Bergh, The Art of Ogden M. Pleissner, Boston, MA, 1983, p. 78.

$40,000 - $70,000

186


124

187


CHET RENESON B. 1934

125

125 Chet Reneson (b. 1934) Coming Ashore signed "Reneson" lower right watercolor, 18 by 28 in. Noted artist Robert K. Abbett writes, “The art of Chet Reneson is successful for several reasons, only one of them being its grounding in the realities of imagery, of nature, and of personal experience. His paintings are right because he knows the games - hunting and fishing - and specifically because he practices them personally…In sporting art there is little that can substitute for being there - it is the lifeblood of the artist’s confidence and honesty.”

188

The Atlantic Salmon Federation published a limited edition print of this work in 1983. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: Robert K. Abbett, The Watercolors of Chet Reneson, Camden, ME, 2001, pp. 9, 11.

$2,000 - $3,000


126 Lynne R. Moore (English, 20th Century) Set of Three Game Shooting Watercolors

126.1

Shooting Red Grouse, 1986 signed and dated "Lynne R. Moore '86" lower left 12 1⁄2 by 21 1⁄4 in.

On the Lookout signed "Lynne R. Moore" lower left 8 1⁄2 by 14 in.

Taking Aim signed "Lynne R. Moore" lower right 8 1⁄4 by 13 in. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection

$1,000 - $1,500 126.2

126.3

189


CHARLES FREDERICK TUNNICLIFFE 1901-1979

127

127 Charles Frederick Tunnicliffe (1901-1979) Flock of Male and Female Eider signed “C.F. Tunnicliffe” lower right watercolor, 15 3⁄4 by 25 1⁄4 in. The inside dust jacket of C.F. Tunnicliffe’s Shorelands Winter Diary reads, “Charles Tunnicliffe is widely recognized as one of the finest natural history artists of this century.” He “was born in 1901 in Langley, Cheshire. His youth was spent on a small farm in Macclesfield. A scholarship to the Royal College of Art took him to London where he studied etching and engraving in addition to the general art training. By the mid-1920s he was producing beautiful etchings of rural scenes. Tunnicliffe went on to illustrate with wood engravings the novels of Henry Williamson, including ‘Tarka the Otter’.”

“In the 1930s he took up bird study, becoming an ardent birdwatcher. In 1947 he moved from Manchester to Malltraeth on the Cefni estuary in Anglesey, off the coast of Wales. Apart from a long and successful career as a book illustrator Charles Tunnicliffe achieved great popularity as a watercolourist, exhibiting annually for many years at the R.A. summer shows. He died at Shorelands in February 1979.” PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: Charles F. Tunnicliffe, Shorelands Winter Diary, London, UK, 1992, dust jacket.

$2,000 - $4,000

190


CHARLES FREDERICK TUNNICLIFFE 1901-1979

128

128 Charles Frederick Tunnicliffe (1901-1979) Three Works Tufted Ducks and Pochard watercolor, 2 3⁄4 by 7 in. ink on paper, 1 3⁄4 by 4 in. graphite, yellow crayon and red chalk, 3 3⁄8 by 8 1⁄4 in. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection

EXHIBITED: London, England, The Composition Drawings: Charles F. Tunnicliffe, RA, The Tryon and Moorland Gallery, March 5-25, 1986, No. 72.

$1,500 - $2,500

129

129 Charles Frederick Tunnicliffe (1901-1979) Partridges signed "CFT" lower right watercolor and gouache, 9 1⁄2 by 7 1⁄2 in. Holland & Holland, London label on back PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection

$1,500 - $2,500

191


WILLIAM BRODERICK ENGLISH, 1914-1888

130

130 William Broderick (English, 1814-1888) Three Hobbies on a Branch, c. 1840 oil on board, 22 by 18 in. titled on Tryon Gallery, Ltd, London label on back The artist’s name is also spelled Brodrick. Born in London in 1814, he was son of a barrister and Mary Ann Selby, the sister of noted ornithologist Prideaux John Selby (17881867). Broderick pursued a career as a falconer and bird artist. His uncle Selby wrote in 1844, “He has got several hawks and falcons up, which he manages very well, and expects to have perfectly trained by the commencement of the Season. I never met with such a fellow, for the training and keeping of Birds as he is.” By 1855, “He reckoned that the expense of a hawking establishment was £200 per annum, based on eight hawks, a falconer with assistant, one or two good horses, and three or four dogs.” 192

In 1855, Broderick wrote and published Falconry in the British Isles, with Francis Salvin, which was considered the best falconry book for many years. Broderick died in Devon in 1888. This painting appeared on the cover of the October 1988 issue of The Field magazine. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: The Field, October 1988, cover, illustrated. Laurence Sheehan, The Sporting Life, New York, NY, 1992, p. 83, illustrated. Christine E. Jackson, Dictionary of Bird Artists of the World, Suffolk, UK, 1999, p. 174.

$4,000 - $6,000


EDWIN PENNY

ENGLISH, B. 1930

131

131 Edwin Penny (English, b. 1930) Barn Owl signed "Edwin Penny" lower right gouache, 28 by 20 in. Edwin Penny is a British artist who attended Bath College of Art and the Royal West of England Academy. He served as an army illustrator in Hong Kong, where he explored Eastern composition and blended a Chinese influence into his own art. Penny is influenced by John James Audubon (1785-1851) and Archibald Thorburn (1860-1935), and his work can be found in many international collections and at Frost & Reed in London. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection

$800 - $1,200

193


ROBERT VERITY CLEM 1933-2010

132

132 Robert Verity Clem (1933-2010) Sanderlings and Piping Plover signed “Robert Verity Clem” lower left watercolor, 9 1⁄2 by 6 1⁄2 in. Robert Verity Clem was a New England artist based in Chatham, Massachusetts. He was self-taught but heavily influenced by the work of Louis Agassiz Fuertes (1874-1927). He published his definitive work, The Shorebirds of North America, in 1967. Sanderlings and Piping Plover is a nice early work with large-figure birds boldly pictured. Later in Clem’s career, he focused more on the landscapes, and birds became smaller elements. He was known for the exactitude of his detail and the sparseness of his pallet. Clem was a trustee of the Chatham Conservation Foundation and had multiple shows at the Mass Audubon

194

Visual Arts Center in Canton, Massachusetts. He died in 2010. Amy Montague of Mass Audubon notes, “If there were a pantheon of bird artists, Robert Verity Clem would be there.” She continues, “He is almost universally acknowledged as ranking among the greatest artists to focus on birds.” PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: Tim Wood, “Artist Clem Remembered For Ability To Capture ‘Essence’ Of Birds,” Cape Cod Chronicle, September 23, 2010.

$1,000 - $1,500


133

133 Arthur B. Singer (1917-1990) Tanagers and Euphonia 134

signed "Arthur Singer" lower left watercolor and gouache, 4 3⁄4 by 13 3⁄4 in. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection

$200 - $300

135

134 John P. O'Neill (b. 1942) Hummingbirds, 1972 signed and dated "O'Neill 72" lower right watercolor and gouache, 18 1⁄2 by 13 3⁄4 in. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection

$200 - $300

135 Arthur B. Singer (1917-1990) Plovers and Turnstones signed "Arthur Singer" lower left watercolor and gouache, 17 by 11 in. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O'Brien, Jr.

Collection $300 - $400 195


after JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 1785-1851

136

136 after John James Audubon (1785-1851) Virginian Partridge, (No. 16, Plate LXXVI), 1830 hand-colored engraving, sheet sight size 25 5⁄8 by 38 1⁄4 in. "Drawn from Nature & Published by John J. Audubon" lower left "Engraved, Printed and Coloured by R. Havell" lower right on J. Whatman watermarked paper PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection, acquired from Sotheby's, January 1985

$10,000 - $20,000

196


after JOHN JAMES AUDUBON

1785-1851

137

137 after John James Audubon (1785-1851) Dusky Duck, (No. 61, Plate CCCII), 1836 hand-colored engraving, sheet size sight 26 1â „4 by 39 in. "Dusky Duck Anas Obscura" lower center "Drawn from Nature by J.J. Audubon" lower left "Engraved, Printed and Coloured by R. Havell 1836" lower right on J. Whatman 1836 watermarked paper PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection, acquired from Sotheby's, late 1970s

$6,000 - $10,000

197


RICHARD E. BISHOP 1887-1975

138

138 Richard E. Bishop (1887-1975) Pintails in Flight oil on canvasboard, 6 by 8 in. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O'Brien, Jr.

Collection $800 - $1,200

139

139 Richard E. Bishop (1887-1975) Pheasants over Cornstalks, 1963 oil on canvas, 6 by 8 in. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection

$800 - $1,200

198


140

140 Hans Albert Hochbaum (1911-1988) Suitors in Pursuit, 1973 signed and dated “H. Albert Hochbaum 1973” lower right tempera on panel, 22 by 30 in. Hochbaum describes the scene of Suitors in Pursuit in To Ride the Wind, as, “More Canvasback continued to arrive [on the Delta Marsh], many newcomers unpaired, each single hen the object of attention for a party of suitors.” PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: H. Albert Hochbaum, To Ride the Wind, Toronto and London, 1973, p. 21, illustrated.

$400 - $600

141

141 Arthur D. Fuller (1889-1966) Leaping Black Duck signed "Arthur D. Fuller" lower left watercolor and gouache, 15 by 11 in. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: Laurence Sheehan, The Sporting Life, New York, NY, 1992, p. 82, illustrated.

$400 - $600

199


AIDEN LASSELL RIPLEY 1869-1969

142

142 Aiden Lassell Ripley (1896-1969) Woodcock Pair, 1949 signed and dated "A. Lassell Ripley © '49" lower left watercolor, 20 1⁄2 by 28 1⁄4 in. “Where alder bottoms, aspen groves, and willow swales wander alongside a stream through rolling farmland, the damp earth may be drilled and spattered by woodcock probing for worms, employing sensitive bills nearly as long as their bodies. They are inland sandpipers, related to snipe, shorebirds of the uplands with the strong migratory urge of most shore birds.” Writing of the artist’s relationship with woodcock, Robert Elman continues, “A. Lassell Ripley was fascinated by these unique game birds. One of his last major endeavors before his death in 1969 was the completion of the fine etchings

200

and watercolor frontispiece for William G. Sheldon’s noteworthy treatise, The Book of the American Woodcock. PROVENANCE: Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection, acquired from Sportsman’s Edge Ltd., New York LITERATURE: Stephen B. O’Brien, Jr. and Julie Carlson Wildfeuer, The Art of Aiden Lassell Ripley, Boston, MA, 2009, p. 104, plate 92, illustrated. Robert Elman, The Great American Shooting Prints, New York, NY, 1972, pl. 56.

$20,000 - $30,000


AIDEN LASSELL RIPLEY

1869-1969

143

143 Aiden Lassell Ripley (1896-1969) Grouse Under Pines, c. 1955 signed "A Lassell Ripley" upper left watercolor, 18 1⁄2 by 28 3⁄4 in. Sporting art collector, Guido R. Perera, a friend and patron of the artist, marvels at Ripley’s knowledge of the artist’s favorite game bird, writing in Sporting Etchings, “Aiden may have been a grouse in one incarnation.” PROVENANCE: Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection, acquired from Sportsman’s Edge Ltd., New York LITERATURE: Dana S. Lamb and Guido Perera, Sporting Etchings by A. Lassell Ripley, Barre, MA 1970, p. 8.

Stephen B. O’Brien, Jr. and Julie Carlson Wildfeuer, The Art of Aiden Lassell Ripley, Boston, MA, 2009, p. 10, plate 5, illustrated. $20,000 - $30,000

201


AIDEN LASSELL RIPLEY 1869-1969

“When I chose the dust jacket cover for The Art of Aiden Lassell Ripley I picked one of his grouse watercolors. Perhaps no other artist before Ripley came on the sporting art scene, nor any artist since, has more accurately captured these thundering ghosts of the covers. Grouse on a Hard Pine is a classic Ripley in every sense with a perfectly rendered trio of birds, thoughtful composition, and intricate treatment of the pines.” -Stephen B. O’Brien, Jr., co-author, The Art of Aiden Lassell Ripley

144 Aiden Lassell Ripley (1896-1969) Grouse on a Hard Pine signed “A. Lassell Ripley ©” lower right oil on canvas, 27 by 40 in. signed and titled on back Born in Wakefield, Massachusetts, Aiden Lassell Ripley was the son of a Boston Symphony Orchestra musician. From an early age he excelled at music, but he soon discovered a deeper interest in painting. By his mid-teens, Ripley was committed to a career in art, commuting into Boston to take classes. After returning from service in World War I, he attended the Boston Museum School where he studied with the country’s top artists, including Philip Leslie Hale (18651934) and Frank W. Benson (1862-1951). Ripley was awarded a Paige Traveling Fellowship to study in Europe. While abroad, he painted watercolors “en plein air” in North Africa, France, and Holland. Upon his return in 1925, he was elected to the prestigious Guild of Boston Artists. His work focused on the New England countryside as well as depictions of city life and railroad commuting scenes. The Great Depression, however, limited the sales potential for these works. Following a successful one-man show of his sporting art in 1930 Ripley decided to change his tack and specialize in hunting, fishing, and outdoor scenes as subjects. Along with his contemporary, Ogden Pleissner (1905-1983), Ripley exemplified the life of a successful sporting artist. Collectors of Ripley’s sporting art endorsed his numerous trips to the salmon rivers of New Brunswick and the quail

202

plantations of Georgia, where the artist indulged his passion for hunting and fishing while recording material he would use in his art. Ripley’s technique and style changed over the course of his career. While the loose Impressionism of the Museum School marks his early work, his later work is progressively tighter, following a trend in American Realism. Ripley was an expert watercolorist as well as a brilliant draftsman, with an outstanding ability to render natural light. His recognition was abundant. Among his many awards, Ripley was honored with election into the National Academy of Design and served as president of the Guild of Boston Artists for the ten years preceding his death. His works now hang in the collections of the Boston Public Library, The Museum of Fine Arts Boston, The Art Institute of Chicago, and the Atlanta Artists Association. PROVENANCE: Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection, acquired from Northeast Auctions, Portsmouth, NH, 8/18/07, lot 733 LITERATURE: Stephen B. O’Brien, Jr. and Julie Carlson Wildfeuer, The Art of Aiden Lassell Ripley, Boston, MA, 2009, p. 131, plate 119, illustrated.

$30,000 - $50,000


144

203


ARTHUR BURDETT FROST 1851-1928

145 Arthur Burdett Frost (1851-1928) Bay Snipe Shooting, 1900 signed and dated "A.B. Frost. 1900" lower right watercolor and gouache en grisaille, 16 1⁄4 by 25 1⁄2 in. This important Frost depicts two competent hunters crouched in a blind, their bag of birds is piling up behind as they await the next flight. Frost skillfully depicts subtle details such as the water jug, lunch basket, guns, and shorebird decoys. It served as the centerfold illustration in the April 28, 1900 issue of Harper’s Weekly. “Another feature of the work of Mr. Frost is that it is essentially and peculiarly American. The books that he has interpreted by means of his illustrations are concerned with people in almost every part of the Republic - New England, the South, the Middle West, and the Pacific Slope - but the characters he draws are always true to their environment; they belong to the time and the place, and could belong nowhere else; and they all show the influence of the American spirit and breathe in an atmosphere of American humor.” - Joel Chandler Harris

204

PROVENANCE: Bud Dominic Collection, by descent Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection, acquired from the above LITERATURE: Harper’s Weekly, April 28, 1900, pp. 390-391, illustrated. Arthur Burdett Frost, A Book of Drawings, New York, NY, 1904, p. ix.

$30,000 - $50,000


145

205


146

146 Robert Verity Clem (1933-2010) Buffleheads signed "RVC" lower right watercolor and gouache, 4 1⁄2 by 6 1⁄4 in. The Old Print Shop, New York label on back PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection

$1,000 - $1,500

147

147 Aiden Lassell Ripley (1896-1969) Sketch for Hungry Grouse Ripley estate stamp on back watercolor, 7 1⁄2 by 11 5⁄8 in. inscribed "Sketch for 'Hungry Grouse' A. Lassell Ripley" on back PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: Laurence Sheehan, The Sporting Life, New York, NY, 1992, p. 85, illustrated.

$1,000 - $2,000

148

148 Aiden Lassell Ripley (1896-1969) I Emptied My Shooting Jacket, 1937 pen and ink, 15 by 10 in. This drawing appeared in the Grouse chapter of Philip H. Babcock's book, Falling Leaves: Tales from a Gun Room, published in 1937 by the Derrydale Press. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: Philip H. Babcock and Aiden L. Ripley, Falling Leaves: Tales from a Gun Room, New York, NY, 1937, illustrated.

$300 - $500

206


149

149 Arthur Burdett Frost (1851-1928) Duck Hunter, Dog, and Duck signed "A.B. Frost" lower right pen and ink, 6 1⁄4 by 8 in. "The most level-headed farmer Van Sickle ever knew was one who had a farm bordering on a salt water bay. If his crops failed, it made little difference to him, because he could live on wild ducks and fish." PROVENANCE: John S. du Mont, Hancock, New Hampshire Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection LITERATURE: Richard Kendall Munkittrick, Farming, New York, NY, 1892, chapter XI, illustrated.

$2,000 - $3,000

150

150 Charles E. "Shang" Wheeler (1872-1949) Grouse

151

pen and ink, 7 by 10 1⁄2 in. illustrated mat, 14 1⁄2 by 18 1⁄2 in. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection

$400 - $600

151 Roland H. Clark (1874-1957) Federal Duck Stamp Design, 1938 signed "Roland Clark" lower right drypoint, 7 by 11 in. titled and dated lower left Sportsman's Edge, Ltd., New York label on back PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection

LITERATURE: Roland Clark, Roland Clark's Etchings, New York, NY, 1938, No. 69, illustrated.

$400 - $600 207


152 Edwin Wallace Tucker (English, 19th century) View on the River Culm, 1817

152

signed “E. Tucker, Exeter 1817” on back oil on panel, 8 by 10 in. Ackermann & Son, London label on back The River Culm flows through Devon in the north of England and joins the River Exe near Exeter. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr.

Collection $800 - $1,200

153

153 Herman Herzog (1832-1932) Fisherman in a Woody Stream signed “H. Herzog” lower left oil on canvasboard, 10 by 16 1⁄2 in. Kennedy Galleries, Inc., New York label on back Herman Herzog was born in Bremen, Germany in 1832. He studied at the Dusseldorf Academy from 1849 and traveled through Europe painting mountain landscapes, which were collected by nobility including Queen Victoria and the Grand Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. In 1869 Herzog emigrated to Philadelphia, where he painted the surrounding countryside before traveling west to California in 1874-75.

208

He favored an area of the Delaware Water Gap called Dingman’s Ferry. Herzog lived until he was 100 years old and spent much of his life studying the effects of light and atmosphere on different landscape terrains. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection

$3,500 - $4,500


154 James Sidney Brown (1819-1893) Trolling, 1852

154

signed and dated "JBrown 1852" lower left oil on canvas, 20 by 30 in. Beacon Hill Fine Art, New York label on back A contemporary of Eastman Johnson, James Brown was a painter from New York and St. Louis. He is listed in Who’s Who in American Art as a landscape, marine, genre, and portrait painter. Like Johnson, he exhibited at the American Art Union in 1850 and the National Academy of Design from 1850-1855. PROVENANCE: Private Collection, acquired from Alexander Gallery, New York, November 1981 Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Collection, acquired from Keno Auctions, May 1-2, 2010, lot 357

$5,000 - $10,000

155

155 Edward F. Boyd (1878-1964) Church at St. Hilarion

155

signed "E.F. Boyd" lower right oil on canvas, 16 by 20 in. D. Wigmore Fine Art, New York label on back Boyd was born in Montreal, Canada, and settled with his wife in Westport, Connecticut. This work depicts the quaint town of Saint-Hilarion, Quebec, near the St. Lawrence River. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection

$100 - $200

156 Salmon Head Stirrup Cup Derby Porcelain (attr.)

156

England, 1850 4 1⁄2 by 3 by 2 in. Original with wear to cup edge. PROVENANCE:

Donal C. O'Brien, Jr.

Collection $600 - $900

End of Session II

209


DONAL C. O'BRIEN, JR.'S DECOY CARVING COMPETITION RESULTS* The U.S. National Decoy Show, March 10-11, 1966, Babylon, NY. Best in Show in the Amateur class, decorative miniature division The U.S. National Decoy Show, March 11-12, 1967, Babylon, NY. Best in Class in the Amateur class, working decoy division for his whistler The U.S. National Decoy Show, March 16-17, 1968, Babylon, NY. Best in Class in the Amateur class, working decoy division for his whistler The U.S. National Decoy Show, March 22-23, 1969, Babylon, NY. Best in Show in the Amateur class, working decoy division for his goldeneye Best in Class in the Amateur class, decorative miniature division for a pair of flying black ducks Best in Class in the Amateur class, working decoy division for his bufflehead Best in Class in the Amateur class, working decoy division for his goldeneye Second place in the Amateur class, working decoy division for his old squaw The 1969 Maine Decoy Contest Best in Show in working decoy division for his pair of buffleheads Best in Class in diving duck division for his pair of buffleheads Second place in miniature division for his grouse Second place in working decoy marsh duck division for his pair of black ducks The 1970 Maine Decoy Contest Best in Show in working decoy division The U.S. National Decoy Show, March 6-7, 1971, Babylon, NY. Best in Show in the Amateur class, working decoy division for his blue-winged teal Best in Class in the Amateur class, working decoy division for his blue-winged teal Best in Class in the Amateur class, working decoy division for his black duck Second place in the Amateur class, working decoy division for his wood duck The International Decoy Carving Contest at the 1971 Great Mississippi Valley Fair, Davenport, Iowa. Best in Class in the final judging of the Amateur class, working decoy pairs division marsh duck division Best in Class in the Amateur class, working decoy marsh duck division for his mallard Best in Class in the Amateur class, working decoy marsh duck division for his black duck Best in Class in the Amateur class, working decoy marsh duck division for his widgeon Second place in the Amateur class, working decoy marsh duck division for his green-winged teal Second place in the Amateur class, working decoy marsh duck division for his blue-winged teal Second place in the Amateur class, working decoy marsh duck division for his wood duck diving duck division Best in Class in the Amateur class, working decoy diving duck division for his merganser Best in Class in the Amateur class, working decoy diving duck division for his ruddy duck pairs division Best in Class in the Amateur class, working decoy pairs division for his ruddy duck Best in Class in the Amateur class, working decoy pairs division for his marsh ducks, geese, and brant The U.S. National Decoy Show, April 8-9, 1972, Babylon, NY. Second place in the Professional class, working decoy division for his American merganser34

*Some of Donal's competion results. Third place and Honorable Mention awards not listed. 210


CONSERVATION ORGANIZATIONS American Bird Conservancy, Founding Director, Chairman Emeritus American Museum of Natural History, Board member Atlantic Salmon Federation, Board member, Chairman BirdLife International, Founding Chairman Delta Waterfowl Foundation, Board member Jackson Hole Preserve, Inc., Board member National Audubon Society, Board member, Chairman   Save-the-Redwoods League, Council member The Atlantic Flyway Council for the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, Board member   The Connecticut Waterfowlers Association, Board member The Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, Board member The International Council for Bird Preservation, President The Nature Conservancy, former Vice-Chairman of the Board of Governors The Quebec-Labrador Foundation, US Board Chairman, Chairman Emeritus The Shelburne Museum, Board member The Theodore Gordon Flyfisheries, Board member The Trustees of Reservations, Board member Waterfowl Research Foundation, Board member     CT PUBLIC SERVICE: Governor Lowell Weicker’s Task Force on Hunting and Public Safety, Chairman Connecticut State Board of Fisheries and Game, Commissioner, named by Governor Thomas Meskil In 1971. When the Fish and Game Commission was merged into the Department of Environmental Protection, Governor Meskill appointed Mr. O’Brien as a member of the newly created Council on Environmental Quality. State of Connecticut Council of Environmental Quality, Chairman and served over 23 years by appointment of four Connecticut governors. Donal was the longest serving member of Connecticut’s CEQ, past and present.

211


ENDNOTES 1.

212

Donal C. O’Brien, Jr., Introduction, Waterfowl Decoys of Michigan and the Lake St. Clair Region, Clune Walsh, Jr. and Lowell G. Jackson, eds. (Detroit, MI: Gale Graphics, 1983), p. xvii.

17.

“Donal O’Brien, 79, Audubon Leader, Dies,” The New York Times, September 11, 2013, p. B17.

18.

“Audubonview,” Audubon, September 2003, p. 9.

2. Robert H. Boyle, “With a Quack Quack Here,” Sports Illustrated, September 27, 1971, p. 51.

19.

The New York Times, p. B17.

3.

Elizabeth Eschmann Whittemore, “Our Ancestors: Some Facts, Figures, and Fancies,” 1993, p. 18.

4.

Boyle, p. 50.

20.

“A Tribute to Donal C. O’Brien, A Conservationist for the Ages,” Audubon.org, National Audubon Society, September 9, 2013.

5.

Laurence Sheehan, The Birding Life (New York, NY: Clarkson Potter Publishers, 2011), p. 93.

21.

Frank Graham, Jr., “A Conservationist to His Core,” Audubon, September 2003, p. 95.

6.

Laurence Sheehan, The Sporting Life (New York, NY: Clarkson Potter Publishers, 1992), p. 76.

22.

“Donald Carr’s Speech in Honor of Donal C. O’Brien,” September 6, 2003.

7.

“She Bagged the Deer,” The New York Journal, November 9, 1896, p. 1.

23.

Audubon.org, September 9, 2013.

8.

The Mischianza (Lakeville, CT: Hotchkiss’s Annual Yearbook, 1952), p. 54.

9.

Boyle, p. 50.

24. “Donal O’Brien, 51st recipient of the Audubon Medal,” Audubon video, 9:04, September 6, 2003, http://nc.audubon.org/news/meet-donal-obrien 25.

“Donal O’Brien, 51st recipient of the Audubon Medal,” 2003.

10. “Donal O’Brien, 51st recipient of the Audubon Medal,” 26. Audubon video, 9:04, September 6, 2003, http://nc.audubon.org/news/meet-donal-obrien 27. 11. Stephen W. Kress, “From Puffins to Petrels,” Audubon Magazine, Spring 1992, p. 15. 28. 12. Boyle, p. 51.

“Don O’Brien Wins Happy Fraser Award,” Atlantic Salmon Journal, Summer 2002, p. 29-30.

13.

Joann Pochron Neath, “Island Decoys & Decorative Shorebird Carvings,” Nantucket Journal, Winter 1993-1994, p. 53.

29.

Sheehan, The Sporting Life, p. 76.

30.

The New York Times, p. B17.

14.

Mary Black, Foreword, The Art of the Decoy, Adele Earnest (New York, NY: Bramhall House, 1965), p. ii.

“Donal O’Brien, 51st recipient of the Audubon 31. Medal,” Audubon video, 2003.

15.

Jackson Parker, “O’Brien Classic Decoys on Display at 32. “Donal O’Brien, 51st recipient of the Audubon Museum of American Folk Art,” North American Medal,” Audubon video, 2003. Decoys: Wildfowl Carvers and Collectors News, Spring/ Summer 1982, p. 30. Audubon.org, September 9, 2013. 33.

16.

Jeff Waingrow, “The American Decoy: Folk Sculpture from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Donal C. O’Brien, Jr.,” The Clarion: America’s Folk Art Magazine, Fall 1981, p. 31.

34.

James N. Levitt, “Annual Report,” QLF Waypoint Progress Report 2013-2014, p.1. “Donal O’Brien, 51st recipient of the Audubon Medal,” 2003.

Byron and Maureen Cheever, North American Decoys: Wildfowl Carvers and Collectors News, Oct-Dec 1967, July-Sept 1968, Spring 1969, Winter 1970, Summer 1971, Autumn 1971, and Summer 1972.


BIBLIOGRAPHY “A Tribute to Donal C. O’Brien, A Conservationist for the Ages.” Audubon, September 9, 2013.

Neath, Joann Pochron. “Island Decoys & Decorative Shorebird Carvings.” Nantucket Journal, Winter 1993-1994.

“Audubonview.” Audubon, September 2003.

“Obituary: Donal O’Brien Jr., 79, Connecticut conservationist leader, longtime resident.” New Canaan Advertiser, September 11, 2013.

Barber, Joel. Wild Fowl Decoys. New York: Windward Books, 1934. Boyle, Robert H. “With a Quack Quack Here.” Sports Illustrated, September 27, 1971. Cheever, Byron and Maureen. North American Decoys: Wildfowl Carvers and Collectors News, Oct-Dec 1967, July-Sept 1968, Spring 1969, Winter 1970, Summer 1971, Autumn 1971, and Summer 1972. “Donal O’Brien, 51st recipient of the Audubon Medal.” Audubon video, 9:04, September 6, 2003, http://nc.audubon.org/news/meet-donal-obrien “Donal O’Brien, 79, Audubon Leader, Dies.” The New York Times, September 11, 2013. “Don O’Brien Wins Happy Fraser Award.” Atlantic Salmon Journal, Summer 2002. Earnest, Adele. The Art of the Decoy. New York: Bramhall House, 1965. Graham, Jr., Frank. “A Conservationist to His Core.” Audubon, September 2003. Kress, Stephen W. “From Puffins to Petrels.” Audubon Magazine, Spring 1992. Levitt, James N. “Annual Report.” QLF Waypoint Progress Report 2013-2014. Mackey, Jr., William J. American Bird Decoys. New York: Bonanza, 1965.

Parker, Jackson. “O’Brien Classic Decoys on Display at Museum of American Folk Art.” North American Decoys: Wildfowl Carvers and Collectors News, Spring/Summer 1982. Sheehan, Laurence. The Birding Life. New York: Clarkson Potter Publishers, 2011. Sheehan, Laurence. The Sporting Life. New York: Clarkson Potter Publishers, 1992. “She Bagged the Deer.” The New York Journal, November 9, 1896. Sotheby's and Guyette & Schmidt, Inc. American Waterfowl Decoys: The Distinguished Collection of Dr. James M. McCleery. New York, 2000. The Mischianza: Hotchkiss’s Annual Yearbook. Lakeville, CT, 1952. Waingrow, Jeff. “The American Decoy: Folk Sculpture from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Donal C. O’Brien, Jr.” The Clarion: America’s Folk Art Magazine, Fall 1981. Walsh, Jr., Clune and Lowell G. Jackson, eds. Waterfowl Decoys of Michigan and the Lake St. Clair Region. Detroit: Gale Graphics, 1983. Whittemore, Elizabeth Eschmann. “Our Ancestors: Some Facts, Figures, and Fancies,” 1993.

213


INDEX

214

Adamson, Harry Curieux: 111-113

English, John: 13, 15

Reed, James "Corb": 87

Audubon, John James: 136, 137

English, Mark: 84

Reeves, Phineas: 90, 93

Baldwin, Willard C.: 79, 80

Fernlund, Ivar Gustav: 95

Reneson, Chet: 125

Barber, Joel D.: 82, 83

Foster, William Harden: 55

Barkalow, Joel: 26

Frost, Arthur Burdett Frost: 145, 149

Ripley, Aiden Lassell: 142-144, 147, 148

Bishop, Richard E.: 138, 139

Fuller, Arthur D.: 141

Ross, Willie: 53

Blair, Sr., John: 14

Gilley, Wendell: 56

Salmon Head Stirrup Cup: 156

Boddy, Harry E.: 102

Herters Manufacturing Inc.: 2

Seymour, Harry: 57, 58, 64

Boyd, Edward F.: 155

Herzog, Herman: 153

Shourds, Harry V.: 68-75

Boyd, Taylor: 85

Hochbaum, Hans Albert: 140

Schroeder, Tom: 88

Broderick, William: 130

Holmes, Lothrop T.: 45, 50

Sieger, Joseph: 89

Brown, Isaiah: 94

Irwin, Ed: 60

Singer, Arthur B.: 133, 135

Brown, James Sidney: 154

Jester, Charles E.: 40

Southard, William: 66

Burr, Elisha: 46

King, Joe: 76

Stuart, Allen P. Stuart: 51

Cameron, Judge Glenn J.: 103

Koelpin, William J.: 110

Tucker, Edwin Wallace: 152

Carriage House Rig: 96

Kovenhoven, Judge Malatrope: 77

Chambers, Thomas: 5, 6

Laing, Albert D.: 33, 81

Tunnicliffe, Charles Frederick: 127-129

Clark, Roland H.: 105, 106, 108, 109, 151

Leeds, Daniel Lake: 78

Clem, Robert Verity: 132, 146

Mason Decoy Factory: 97-101

Cope, George: 114

Moore, Lynne R. Moore: 126

Coykendall, Sr., Ralf: 32

O'Neill, John P.: 134

Crowell, A. Elmer: 16-20, 47

Penny, Edwin: 131

Daly, Thomas Aquinas: 115, 116

Perdew, Charles H. Perdew: 3

Dilley, John: 21, 22

Peterson, Oscar W.: 51, 61, 62

Dudley, Lee: 34, 35

Pleissner, Ogden M.: 117-124

Earnest, Christo: 104

Rathmell, Louis C.: 30, 31

Lincoln, Joseph W.: 49, 52, 54

Verity, Obediah: 25 Walker, Charles: 1 Ward Brothers: 41-44 Warin, George: 7 Wells, John R.: 8, 9, 91, 92 Wheeler, Charles E. "Shang" Wheeler: 28, 29, 150 White, Robert "Bob": 11, 12 Whorf, John: 107 Williamns, Roger: 67


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TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF SALE 1 Your bidding on items indicates your acceptance of the following Terms and Conditions of sale by Copley Fine Art Auctions, LLC. These terms are subject to amendment before or during the sale. Copley Fine Art Auctions, LLC operates as an agent of the seller only, and is not responsible in any way in the event the seller or buyer fails to fulfill their respective agreements. In all instances the auctioneer’s interpretation of these conditions is final and binding on all bidders. 2 All bids are per lot as numbered in the catalog unless otherwise announced by the auctioneer. The sales price shall consist of the final bid price plus the buyer’s premium, plus any applicable sales tax. 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 as part of the purchase price. 3 The auctioneer reserves the right to reject any bid that, in his opinion, is not commensurate with the value of the lot. 4 The auctioneer has the sole right to re-offer a lot and/or settle disputed bids. The record of sale kept by the auction house will be taken as final in the event of dispute. Additionally, items may be withdrawn at any time prior to the offering of each lot. 5 All goods are sold “as is” and all sales are final with no exchanges or refunds. Copley Fine Art Auctions, LLC and its consignors make no representations or warranties as to merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, the correctness of the catalog or other description of physical condition, quality, size, medium, importance, rarity, provenance or historical relevance of any property, and no statement made at the sale, or in the bill of sale, or invoice, or elsewhere shall be deemed such a warranty or representation or an assumption of liability. The purchaser assumes complete responsibility for items at the fall of the hammer. 6 Successful bidders are to pay for their purchases during or immediately after the sale or upon receipt of an invoice, unless other arrangements have been authorized in writing by the auction house. Payment may be made by cash or good check payable to Copley Fine Art Auctions, LLC. The auction house reserves the right to hold property until checks clear. A monthly service charge of 1.5% will be added to unpaid balances beginning 30 days after the sale date. A $50.00 fee will be added for returned checks. If a check fails to clear after the second deposit, the purchaser will be held responsible for any and all fees incurred until we have collected good funds. 7 If the purchaser breaches any of its obligations under these Conditions of Sale, including its obligation to pay in full the purchase price of all items for which it was the highest successful bidder, Copley Fine Art Auctions, LLC may exercise all of its rights and remedies under the law including, without limitation, (a) canceling the sale, and applying any payments made by the purchaser to the damages caused by the purchaser’s breach, and/or (b) offering at public auction, without reserve, any lot or item for which the purchaser has failed to pay in full the purchase price, holding the purchaser liable for any deficiency plus all costs of sale. 8 Condition reports are not included in this catalog. It is the responsibility of prospective bidders to examine lots and decide their level of interest. Neither the auctioneer, Copley Fine Art Auctions, LLC, nor the consignor is responsible for the accuracy of any printed or verbal descriptions. Copley Fine Art Auctions, LLC strongly encourages clients to attend our previews and auctions so as to best determine condition of lots. Due to the high volume of condition requests, Copley Fine Art Auctions, LLC reserves the right to reject requests at its sole discretion. All weights and measurements are approximate. 9 Some of the lots in this sale carry reserves or minimum selling prices. This is a confidential figure set by the consignor and the auction house below which a lot will not be sold. The reserve will not exceed the low estimate, 218

and the auction house will execute the reserve bids by bidding for the consignor. Estimates are subject to change at any time prior to the offering of each lot. 10 Absentee and telephone bids will be executed when possible as a convenience to customers: the auction house will not be held responsible for any errors or failures to accurately execute bids. All absentee and telephone bids must be received at least 24 hours before the start of the sale. 11 Buyers wishing to pick up items at the sale must do so by the end 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. We kindly ask that all items be removed from our warehouse within 30 days of auction end to avoid a $5 daily storage fee. 12 Shipping is the responsibility of the buyer. Upon request, we will provide a list of shippers who deliver within the United States and overseas. Once your payment has cleared, items may be released for shipment. Copley Fine Art Auctions, LLC shall have no liability for any loss or damage to such items. Buyers should allow up to four weeks for shipment. 13 Copley Fine Art Auctions, LLC may, at its discretion and at the buyer’s request, package and ship sold items as directed by the purchaser. In such instances 1) the buyer shall prepay all related expenses, and 2) the buyer agrees that all packaging, handling and shipment is at the sole risk of the purchaser, and Copley Fine Art Auctions, LLC shall have no liability for any loss or damage to such items. Buyer should allow four to five weeks for shipment. 14 Some property sold at auction can be subject to laws governing export from the United States, such as items that include material from some endangered species. Import restrictions from foreign countries are subject to these same governing laws. Granting of licensing for import or export of goods from local authorities is the sole responsibility of the buyer. Denial or delay of licensing will not constitute delay or cancellation in payment for the total purchase price of these lots. 15 Bidding increments will normally follow the pattern below, but may vary at the sole discretion of the auctioneer: Estimate To 950 1,000 – 2,400 2,500 – 4,750 5,000 – 9,500 10,000 – 24,000 25,000 – 47,500 50,000 – 95,000 Over 100,000

Increment 50 100 250 500 1,000 2,500 5,000 at auctioneer’s discretion

16 Copley Fine Art Auctions, LLC is the owner of the images of each lot offered for sale, and may use such images at any time at its sole discretion for advertising, publicity, and for archival purposes. 17 If you are bidding as an agent for another individual or company, and you execute a bid on behalf of someone else under your bidder number, then you are responsible for the settlement of that account. 18 In no event will the liability of Copley Fine Art Auctions, LLC to any purchaser with respect to any item exceed the purchase price actually paid by such purchaser for such item. 19 Any legal disputes arising from this auction shall be settled in the court system of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.


OUT-OF-STATE DELIVERY AND AUTHORIZED SHIPPING RELEASE FORM COPLEY FINE ART AUCTIONS, LLC 65 Sharp Street | Hingham, MA 02043 Tel: 617.536.0030 | Fax: 617.266.4896 | info@copleyart.com 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

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

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

Print name: (as invoiced)

Shipping Address:

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

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: To an Interstate Common Carrier for delivery out of state: I authorize: to pick up my items(s) (Please specify Name of Common Carrier)

Phone: Email:

Sale Date: Lot #s:

Signature: (required)

Internal use only Received by: Signature:

Print Name:

Date:

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The Donal C. O'Brien, Jr. Collection of Important American Sporting Art and Decoys | Sessions I-II  

July 27 - 28, 2017, Plymouth, MA | Copley Fine Art Auctions is the world's leading American Decoy and Sporting Art auction company

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