Looking for a change? The most lucrative collectible you've never considered

How much would you pay for this?

To an untrained eye this may appear to be a wooden Canada goose.

But it is in fact an early 20th century wooden Canada goose, designed by renowned craftsman George Boyd of New Hampshire.

It is estimated to make between $45,000 and $65,000 at Decoys Unlimited's summer auction in Massachusetts on July 24.

Here in Britain, decoy birds and ducks are almost unheard of, but in North America they can change hands for astonishing sums, where they are considered works of art.

Used in hunting to attract ducks and other birds to a particular spot, their efficacy lies in the realistic nature of their design.

Carved in wood and then painted, the finest specimens are in great demand, especially those crafted by the leading bird decoy artists of the 19th century.

It's no red-breasted merganser but this running knot decoy could be yours for $25,000

July 20 also sees a rare running knot decoy, produced in the last quarter of the 19th century, come to auction with a $25,000 to $30,000 estimate at Guyette & Schmidt's sale in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

The very presence of these auctions is testament to the growing appeal of this area of collecting.

So what does this mean for the non-North American collector, looking to expand their horizons?

Should you be lucky enough to stumble across a rare decoy at a market or car boot sale, you may be able to snap up an item of significant value for a tiny sum, and such occurrences are very rare birds indeed.

A red-breasted merganser hen, carved by renowned decoy artist Lothrop Holmes in the 19th century, made $856,000 at a Christie's sale in 2007.


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