Gus Wilson Red-breasted merganser drake to make $450,000?

A red-breasted merganser drake by renowned carver Gus Wilson (1864-1950) is valued at $350,000-450,000 ahead of a sale at Copley Fine Art Auctions in Plymouth, Massachusetts on July 25.

Described in an auction at Guyette & Deeter in 1992 as "certainly the finest Gus Wilson ever offered at auction", the lot is a tour de force demonstration of the carver's idiosyncratic style.

Merganser drake Copeley
The merganser drake is a popular subject for decoy carvers

Wilson worked as a lighthouse keeper and in contrast to many decoy carvers produced pieces for decorative as well as utilitarian purposes.

In addition to birds, he produced items ranging from weathervanes to model tigers.

The merganser is superbly realised and displays evidence of decades of use in hunting.

A swimming brant by Nathan Cobb jr (1825-1905) is estimated at $125,000-175,000.

The lot was referred to in 1992 as "the finest Cobb brant in existence" and has previously featured in the collection of the distinguished collection of William J Mackey.

It's displayed in a swimming pose and features much of the original paint.

A feeding black-bellied Plover made in Seaford, Long Island is another highlight with a valuation of $125,000-175,000.

The lot has been owned by both William Mackey and James McCleery over the years, indicating the value that collectors place on works from the Seaford school.

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