Ward Brothers canvasback ducks sell for $31,000

A pair of canvasback ducks by the Ward Brothers led a decoy auction at Guyette & Deeter in South Carolina on February 13, achieving $31,000.

The Ward Brothers worked as barbers in Crisfield, Maryland.

canvasback ducks guyette
The Ward Brothers operated their carving business from their barber shop

During downtime in the shop, they produced decoy carvings for local hunters and soon built up a loyal following.

The present pair dates to 1936, a time when the brothers' services were in high demand due to the Great Depression. Duck hunting provided families in the area with a way to eat when money was scarce.

In the 1950s plastic decoys were cheaply available and so the brothers switched to more decorative work.

Today they are among the most sought after makers on the market and their work regularly sells for sums in the high five figure range.

The record is $109,250, set in 2006 for a swimming goldeneye drake.

A robin snipe painted with spring plumage sold for $21,000, up 75% on a $12,000 estimate.

It was produced by New Jersey based maker Daniel Lake Leeds circa 1900. His decoys are considered among the finest produced in the area.

The present lot is in near mint condition and is a well-known piece, having featured in Jim Dougherty's book Classic New Jersey Decoys.

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