July 27-28, 2000: Guyette & Schmidt
and Walker Pintails top
By Jackson Parker
A lowhead beavertail pintail, made by the Ward brothers of Crisfield, Maryland in the late 1920s, sold over estimate at $74,250, the highest price at Guyette & Schmidt’s annual summer auction at the posh Cliff House in Ogunquit, Maine on July 27-28, 2000. A circa 1930 pintail, hollow-carved by Charles Walker of Princeton, Illinois, sold just under estimate at $33,000, tied for second place with another Illinois River decoy, a late 19th century hollow-carved blue-winged teal by Robert Elliston of Bureau, Illinois, selling well over estimate at $33,000. This was the second time around for both Illinois River decoys at G&S auctions, the Walker pintail selling for $28,050 in April 1990 and the Elliston teal going for $13,750 in April 1991.
Of the 697 lots offered, 13 were unrelated to waterfowl hunting or wildlife carving, leaving 684 of which 31 did not sell, leaving 653 that sold for $1,123,560 for an average of $1271 per lot, and was 3 ˝% over total low estimate after deducting the $136,950 total low estimate of the unsold lots. The Top 25 Lots (4% of those sold) accounted for $455,675 (41% of the gross) and was 6% over total average estimate.
There were five lots by the Ward brothers among the auction’s top dozen lots, including two pintails, the lowhead described above, and a circa 1920s humpback that made estimate at $18,150, a pair of goldeneyes, circa 1932, selling separately, the drake at $22,000 and the hen at $15,950, both under estimate, and a 1936 green-winged teal, under estimate at $15,950. Not selling were three lots of Ward decoratives, all standing, a pair of green-winged teal (1945 drake and 1940 hen) estimated at 22,000/27,500, a wood duck (est. 27,500/33,000) and a mallard (est. 13,750/17,050).
There were nine lots of Illinois River decoys among the auction’s top 25 lots: four Walkers, two Ellistons, two Graves and a Perdew, all hollow-carved. In addition to the Walker pintail described above, there were a circa 1930s mallard hen, well over estimate at $17,050, and two mallards, both circa 1940 that made estimate at $13,475 and $12,100; a Walker circa 1948 mallard made its low estimate $8800. The two Ellistons were a pair of late-19th century blue-winged teal, sold separately, the drake as described above and the hen at $15,950, both over estimate; an Elliston circa 1890 bluebill was a good buy over estimate at $6600. An Elliston pintail with paint by Catherine Elliston (est. 13,200/17,600) failed to sell.
The two decoys by Bert Graves of Peoria, Illinois that made the top 25 were a mallard hen, over estimate at $9900, and a pintail hen with paint by Catherine Elliston that made estimate at $9350. Two more lots by Graves were a pintail that made its high-estimate $7150, and a mallard pair with paint by Catherine Elliston, under estimate at $6050. Charles Perdew of Henry, Illinois was represented on the top 25 list by a pintail with paint by Edna Perdew that made estimate at $12,650. Other Perdews were a circa 1915 bluebill, over estimate at $8250, and a circa 1935 mallard pair with paint by Edna Perdew, under estimate at $6600.
A hollow-carved shoveler by John R. Wells of Toronto sold over estimate at $23,100, the auction’s fourth highest price. A hollow-carved Canada goose by George Warin of Toronto made estimate at $11,000.
The Garden State was represented by two classics that surprised me by selling under estimate. From the Delaware River side came the hollow-carved merganser hen by John Dawson of Florence, selling for $16,500. From the Coastal side came the hollow-carved black duck by Nathan Rowley Horner of West Creek, selling for $15,400. A late-19th century ruddy turnstone from the southern New Jersey shore sold out of the Hillman collection in 1996 for $7370 and here it made estimate at $7150.
Four from the Bay State made the top 25 list. A late 19th century hollow-carved golden plover by a member of the Folger family of Nantucket sold over estimate at $15,400. A circa 1920s self-bailing brant by Joe Lincoln of Accord also sold over estimate at $11,000. Two early plovers by A. Elmer Crowell of East Harwich on Cape Cod sold under estimate, the golden at $13,200 and the black-bellied at $10,450. Two more by Crowell with the later rectangular stamp made estimate at $8800 (wood duck) and $7920 (green-winged teal).
A circa 1890s curlew by an unknown maker sat on the mantel of an inn along the North River in Scituate for over 50 years. It was estimated at 15,400/19,800 and pictured on the back cover of the auction catalog. It was a disappointment at $7150.
Here’s a problem for you to solve. There were two splendid Monhegan-style decoys by Gus Wilson of South Portland, a scoter (est. 9900/12.100) and a black duck (est. 7150/8250). There were two klunky Canada geese from the Merrymeeting Bay area, each estimated to go for 990/1320. Which one made the top 25 list? It was the klunky sleeping Canada goose which brought $14,300 from a New England dealer who also bought the sentinel goose at $8360; it can be safely assumed he was bidding for folk art clients. Oh, the Gus Wilsons? $8250 apiece!
Of the 16 lots offered from the Mason factory (1896-1924) of Detroit, the two most highly rated did not sell – a Premier merganser (est. 11,000/13,750) and a Premier lowhead mallard hen (est. 9900/13,200). The top price was $5500 for a Premier black duck in near-mint condition. The 14 Mason lots sold for $22,275, averaging $1591 per lot.
The early 20th century brant by Chauncey Wheeler of Alexandria Bay, New York sold over estimate to the phone at $11,550, a new record price at auction for this maker.
When a circa 1870s brant by Eli Doughty of Hogg Island, Virginia (est. 13,200/15,400) did not sell, we wondered whether the steam had gone out of the Virginia market. But checking our records, we realized that it was the same brant that bought in at Guyette & Schmidt’s April 2000 auction (then est. 19,250/24,750). So maybe the reserve is still a little too high?
A 24"x 26" framed oil-on-canvas painting of seven mallards landing by Richard Bishop sold over estimate at $11,000.
The McCleery Effect
In our review of the G&S spring auction, we cited two figures – the $1783 per lot average and the 30 lots that sold for $10,000 or more – as possible indications of a continued impact of the McCleery collection auction held in New York City in January 2000. This summer auction came close - a $1721 per lot average and 23 lots that sold for $10,000 or more – but not close enough to draw a conclusion. That will have to wait until the G&S fall auction in Easton, Maryland on November 8-9, 2000.
Top 25 Lots at Guyette & Schmidt decoy auction, Ogunquit, Maine, July 27-28, 2000
Rank Description (catalog no.) Avg. Est. Price
1. Ward Bros. (MD)
lowhead beavertail pintail (502) $66,000 $74,250
Totals $430,980 $455,675
Key: HC – hollow-carved
The Top 25 lots (4% of the 653 sold) accounted for $455,675 (41% of the $1,123,560 gross) and was 6% over total average estimate.
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