A 1932 goldeneye drake by the Ward Brothers is the star of Guyette & Deeter's decoy sale, which takes place in Charleston, South Carolina later today.
The Ward Brothers were a pair of decoy carvers based in Crisfield, Maryland, who worked out of their barber shop.
Both keen hunters, they began carving to pass the time when business was slow. Over time they developed a following among duck hunters from the local area and from out of town, who were entranced by the astonishing realism of their work.
The present lot dates to the 1930s, a time when decoys were in high demand as the great depression forced people to hunt for their own food.
Following the arrival of plastic decoys in the 1950s, they switched to carving purely decorative pieces.
The lot is valued at $30,000-50,000.
The record for a piece by the Ward Brothers stands at $109,250, set for a swimming goldeneye drake at Guyette & Deeter in 2006.
A 19th century blackduck by New Jersey maker John English is valued at $20,000-30,000.
While the decoy itself dates to the late 1800s, the paintwork was rejuvenated by John Dawson in the 1920s and is of exceptional quality.
Dawson, a pottery worker, was gifted a collection of English decoys by his uncle and set to work repainting them. Today they are considered folk art masterpieces of the art nouveau era.
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