PLYMOUTH, Mass. – On July 14 and 15, Copley Fine Art Auctions’ 17th-annual Sporting Sale brought more than $3.1 million. This major two-day auction consisting of 675 lots was one of the company’s largest to date. The sale had a 96% sell-through rate, came close to cresting its $3.3 million high estimate and set several new world records in so doing. Every category, from antique and contemporary decoys to decorative carvings, paintings, prints, folk art, fish decoys, canes, gunpowder tins and Americana, saw lively bidding.
The top lot of this year’s Sporting Sale was the Harmon Hollow Nantucket curlew (shown at top of page). Estimated at $150,000-$250,000, it sold for $228,000, doubling the previous world record for a Nantucket decoy. With the drop of that gavel, Copley added another six-figure lot to the firm’s annual total, bringing the count to five. No other firm has sold a decoy for six figures in 2022.
Paintings were led by exceptional canine art. Both major Edmund Henry Osthaus dog paintings sold above their high estimates, with the artist’s oil of setter puppies, estimated at $60,000-$90,000, earning $102,000.
Another popular dog painting at the sale was Steady, an oil on canvas by A.F. Tait depicting two setters pointing quail. Estimated at $50,000-$80,000, it realized $73,800.
Crowell carvings are a perennial auction favorite, and the Elmer Crowell march continued at the Sporting Sale. Despite missing three birds, the East Harwich master’s miniature shorebird set of 22 soared above its $80,000 high estimate, landing at $92,250 and setting a new world record for a Crowell miniature shorebird set.
Also, a Crowell Wing-Up Greater Yellowlegs, estimated at $30,000-$50,000, attained $84,000; and a Crowell Turned-Head Semipalmated Plover certainly turned heads when it tripled its $15,000 low estimate, landing at $45,000.
The Frank Finney market continued to show strength with a passenger pigeon pair achieving $10,800. However, the showstopper was the maker’s Folk Art Bird Tree, which soared past its $6,000-$9,000 estimate to achieve $33,825, believed to be a new world record for the maker.
View top auction results on LiveAuctioneers here: https://www.liveauctioneers.com/pages/recent-auction-sales/