October 21, 2001
decoys sink but Perdews fly
By Jackson Parker
My opinion of Frank & Frank serving the lower end of the decoy market was shaken by their fall 2000 sale of the two wood ducks from the Tyzzer rig for $47,300 and $45,100. These were the first five-figure decoys they had ever sold, and if they did it again, I'd have to rethink this opinion. At this October 21, 2001 auction in Belmar, New Jersey, they had three Blairs, one of which having the potential of going well over $10,000, a circa 1880 mallard hen by John Blair Sr. in good condition, but it failed to make reserve. The other two Blairs were a worn "family" black duck that also bought in, and a repainted balsa bluebill attributed to Junior that sank below estimate at $192.50. As I was saying, Frank & Frank serves the low end of the decoy market.
The auction's top two lots were hollow-carved decoys by Charles Perdew of Henry, Illinois. One of them almost went for five figures, $9350 for a circa 1915 mallard, painted by Edna, in good condition. The other was a circa 1910 pair of bluebills that fell short of estimate at $7700.
The auction's third highest price, $4400, was low-estimate for a near-mint hollow-carved pair of green-winged teal by Lloyd Johnson of Bay Head, New Jersey, dated 1961. This was the highest price lot of the eight from New Jersey that made the top 25. A crooked-neck Canada goose by Harry V. Shourds of Tuckerton was a repaint, but the form was good enough that it sold over estimate at $2860. Three by William H. Cranmer of Beach Haven made $2420 (decorative standing black duck, over estimate), $2090 (under estimate for a hollow-carved red-breasted merganser) and $1210 (pair of gadwalls, over estimate). Two New Jersey shorebirds brought $1980 (hollow-carved long-billed curlew, low estimate) and $1540 (least sandpiper by Ellis Parker of Beach Haven, over estimate). And a green heron with snakey head by Hurley Conklin of Mannahawkin at $1540, way over estimate, rounded out the group
Three from Maryland made the top 25: a black duck by Jim Holly of Havre de Grace, under estimate at $3520; a near-mint bluebill hen by the Ward brothers of Crisfield in their classic 1936 cedar carving style with a poem and both signatures, under estimate at $2200; and a canvasback hen by Will Heverin of Charlestown, over estimate at $1760.
The only Maine decoy
to make the top 25 was a red-breasted merganser by Willie Ross of Chebeague
Island in good condition, plus minor touch-up. It sold well over estimate
Contemporaries Bob White of Tullytown, Pennsylvania and Cameron T. McIntyre of Virginia accounted for six lots in the top 25. White's four were a black duck at $2310 and a hollow-carved mallard at $1870, both over estimate, and two pairs of pintails in the English-Dawson style at $1045 per lot, both within estimate. McIntyre's two were both Mason factory Premier-grade style: a pair of pintails at $1980 and a wood duck at $1320, both under estimate.
Massachusetts was represented by five lots in the top 25, including three by A. Elmer Crowell of East Harwich on Cape Cod: quarter-sized Canada goose under estimate at $2090, and two miniatures over estimate, a yellowlegs at $1980 and a running brant at $1540. The other two lots from the Bay State were a Canada goose by an unknown maker at $2090 and a boxed set of tinnie plovers, attributed to Strater & Sohier of Boston, complete except for missing the cover, at $1640, both under estimate.
Summing up the auction activity, of 434 lots offered, only five (1 1/2%) did not sell, leaving 429 that sold for $173,146 for an average of $404 per lot, and was 2.3% over total low estimate after deducting the $37,840 total low estimate of the five lots that did not sell, and that included the Blair mallard hen that was bought-in. Despite not selling their top lot, this was the second highest grossing auction in the six years they've been in business.
Top 25 Lots
Key: HC - hollow-carved dec. - decorative
The top 25 lots (6% of the 429 sold) accounted for $65,285 (38% of the $173,146 gross) and was 6% under the total average estimate of the top 25.
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