Copley’s duck decoy auction sets 19 world records

Copley’s Fine Art Auction set 19 world records in a major auction of duck decoys over the weekend.

The sale of the Donal C O’Brien, Jr Collection of Important American Sporting Art and Decoys brought in a massive $4.8m.

Wood duck drake

This Thomas Chambers wood duck drake led the sale at Copley's 

O’Brien (1934-2013), lawyer to the fabulously wealthy Rockefeller family and chairman of the National Audubon Society, built his celebrated collection of carvings over a number of years. 

The highlight of the sale was a Thomas Chambers wood duck drake that realised $270,000, a record sum both for the maker and for any Canadian decoy.

Chambers (1860-1948) was a market hunter and part time carver, who plied his wares out of Toronto.

He’s celebrated for his elegant and functional designs.

There was also a $246,000 result for a pintail drake by John Weever, again a record for the maker.

Copley’s owner and principal, Stephen B. O’Brien, Jr, said: “We had two great days of pinnacle works featuring the best the field has to offer.

“The O'Brien Collection has always embodied excellence and over the coming decades it will continue to symbolize the very best.

“As a result, buyers showed up in force to our first ever ‘white glove’ sale.”

These results indicate growing demand in the decoy market.

Decoys have been shaking off their niche reputation in recent years. Art buyers and others have come to see them as essential pieces of Americana.

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