Ward Brothers mallard pair reaches $90,000

A pair of mallards by the Ward Brothers headlined an auction of duck decoys at Guyette & Deeter, achieving $90,000.

The sale took place in Portsmouth, New Hampshire on July 26.

Ward Brothers mallards
The Ward Brothers were expert decoy carvers

Both date to 1936 and display the brothers' exceptional ability to capture the likenesses of birds through their carvings.

Stephen and Lemuel Ward lived out their lives in the town of Crisfield, Maryland, where they ran a small barber shop.

During their downtime they would carve decoys for local hunters, becoming known all along the east coast for their startlingly lifelike birds.

Their business expanded dramatically as their work became better known, with the pair often taking on contracts for local hunting clubs.

The present lot dates to 1936 and is executed in white cedar wood - a material that became scarcer as the years rolled on.

The brothers would be forced to switch to more readily available woods (such as balsa) during the second world war.

They were at the height of their abilities during the years 1932 to 1945, making work from this period highly collectible.

A greater yellowlegs made by the Native American carver Charles Bunn in the late 19th century sold for $77,500.

Bunn has only recently been recognised for his work.

Up until a few years ago his corpus was attributed to a carver named William Bowman.

While there exists pretty conclusive proof in favour of Bunn, controversy still rages in the decoy world.

Day two of the sale takes place today, check back for the results.

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