Charles Birch swan decoy could paddle to $120,000 at Americana auction

An American art event will mark the start of Americana Week on January 16 in Wallace Hall at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola on Park Avenue, New York.

This major sale of sporting art includes over 450 lots of paintings, prints, decoys, duck calls, fish carvings, rods, reels, Navajo blankets, Nantucket baskets, folk art, and over 300 books from a sporting library.

After a stellar performance at the July 2011 Sporting Sale, a Massachusetts auctioneer has assembled several significant collections containing notable decoys and decorative bird carvings. Among the most important birds offered is a Charles Birch (1867-1956) swan ($90,000-$120,000).

This swan, with its graceful down-turned head, long slender neck and sleek body, ranks as one of the finest Birch examples known to exist.

Charles Birch swan decoy
Charles Birch swan decoy

Another notable lot, consigned by a direct descendant of John Blair, includes a swimming bluebill drake ($20,000-$40,000) by John Blair Jr. (1881-1953) and John Blair Sr.'s (1843-1929) Belgian side-by-side muzzle-loading eight-gauge shotgun.

Copley will offer several top tier decoys from the Mid-Atlantic. Among the highlights are a Bishops Head swimming Canada goose by the Ward brothers (Lemuel T., 1896-1983 and Stephen, 1895-1976) and an Obediah Verity (1850-1910) black bellied-plover ($25,000-$40,000).

Decoys from New Jersey are well represented, and include a rare "hook bill" curlew by William Roberts ($20,000-$30,000), as well as a bufflehead ($30,000-$50,000) and brant ($5,000-$7,000) by Harry V. Shourds (1861-1920).

Copley will auction off numerous carvings by the East Harwich maker A.E. Crowell (1862-1952). In addition to the full-size preening greater yellowlegs ($40,000-$60,000), flying green-winged teal drake ($50,000-$70,000), standing preening black duck ($30,000-$60,000), and preening Hudsonian curlew ($60,000-$90,000), Copley has assembled a variety of miniature decorative bird carvings.

Headlined by a complete set of 25 miniature waterfowl ($100,000-$150,000) the sale will include over 70 miniatures in total, with an array of species represented.

Herman R Trinosky Kankakee pintail hen decoy
Herman R Trinosky Kankakee pintail hen decoy

The Winter Sale 2012 will also showcase numerous birds from the Mason Decoy Factory (1896-1924), including some of the finest shorebird examples known, such as a salesman's sample golden plover ($12,000-$16,000), two rare robin snipe, one in spring plumage ($8,000-$12,000) and one in winter ($6,000-$9,000), and a dowitcher ($8,000-$12,000); as well as a pair of premier grade mallards ($50,000-$70,000) from the coveted G.K. Schmidt rig, along with several other lots of Mason waterfowl.

Among a number of important late additions to the sale are a high-head pintail hen ($50,000-$70,000) from the Kankakee marsh and a three-piece Dexter/Gardener (Dr. Clarence T. Gardner, 1844-1907, and Newton Dexter, d. 1901) Willet ($40,000-$60,000).

Watch this space for more news of the sale.

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