Dexter and Gardner dowitcher pair up 4.9% pa

A pair of dowitchers carved by Dexter and Gardner achieved $190,000 as a single lot at Copley Fine Art Auctions in South Carolina on February 13.

Newton Dexter (1841-1901) and Dr Clarence Tripp Gardner (1844-1907) are regarded as two of the finest duck decoy carvers in the United States.

dowitcher pair Dexter Gardner
The decoys were produced by Dexter and Gardner in around 1885

They operated from Gardner's holiday home on Sakonnet Point, Rhode Island - where they also produced taxidermies of the birds they hunted.

Gardner was a physician from Maine, while Dexter had worked as a naturilst for the Smithsonian. He accompanied Louis Agassiz on an 1896 journey up the Amazon and travelled widely in the American West, where he met Buffalo Bill and Sitting Bull.

The dowitcher pair date to around 1885, and were previously sold at Sotheby's in 2000 where they achieved $101,500 - equating to growth of 4.9% pa since their last sale.

George Boyd's red breasted merganser hen was another highlight, realising $115,000.

The carving dates to 1910 and is exceptionally well realised, with much of the original paint remaining intact.

It also sold at Sotheby's in 2000, where it made $87,500 - achieving growth of 2.1% pa.

Boyd created the majority of his works from elder, a wood he recovered from decommissioned telephone poles. He lived the majority of his life in the town of Seabrook, New Hampshire, where he carved around 700 decoys.

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