Ward Brothers mallard pair to lead duck decoy auction?

A pair of mallards by the Ward Brothers will lead Guyette & Deeter's auction of rare decoys in Portsmouth, New Hampshire on July 26.

The lot is expected to sell for around $90,000-120,000.

Ward Brothers Mallards
The Ward Brothers made the pair in 1936

Both date to 1936 and are exceptionally detailed, displaying the brothers' considerable talents both as painters and observers of wildlife.

Stephen and Lemuel Ward lived and worked in Crisfield, Maryland where they operated a barber shop. When business was slow they occupied themselves by carving duck decoys for local hunters.

Their work was in particularly high demand during the Great Depression, when families were struggling to put food on the table and turned to hunting to eat.

Today they are among the most celebrated American decoy carvers, their work selling in the top echelons of the hobby.

A swimming goldeneye drake by the brothers sold for a record $109,250 in 2006.

A late 19th century greater yellowlegs carving by Long Island-based carver Charles Bunn is valued at $70,000-90,000.

Bunn was a Native American carver whose work was attributed to a William Bowman up until a few years ago.

A Bunn shorebird carving sold for $464,500 at Sotheby's in 2000.

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