Shang Wheeler decoys fly away for $216K at Copley

Charles ‘Shang’ Wheeler Wood Duck pair, $216,000

Charles ‘Shang’ Wheeler Wood Duck pair, $216,000

HINGHAM, Mass. – Copley Fine Art Auctions, LLC realized a total of $3.4 million in its March 4-5 Winter Sale. It marked the second highest Winter Sale total in the company’s history. The 555-lot auction was 94% sold.

The top decoy lot of the sale was the Wood Duck pair by Charles “Shang” Wheeler (American, 1867–1956) from the collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller. The duo set a new record for any lot by the maker landing at $216,000, above its $100,000-$200,000 estimate. The pair at one time sat atop the mantel of the world-famous philanthropists’ Maine home.

A.J. King miniature Belted Kingfisher pair, $33,825

A.J. King miniature Belted Kingfisher pair, $33,825

Miniature carvings came out of the gate strong. A miniature belted kingfisher pair by A.J. King (American, 1878–1963) finished at $33,825 against a $7,000-$10,000 estimate. The previous world record for the artist was $22,140 for a related miniature dove pair with chicks, set at the house’s Sporting Sale 2021.

Dodge Wood Duck, $108,000

Dodge Wood Duck, $108,000

The only known Dodge Wood Duck in original paint, hailing from the J.N. Dodge Factory (1883–1893), achieved $108,000 and established a new world record for the maker. Other Midwest carvings performed well, with the Trinosky Family Kankakee Pintail Hen from the Herman R. Trinosky Rig landing at $84,000.

A.Elmer Crowell Raised-Wing Canvasback pair, $102,000

A. Elmer Crowell Raised-Wing Canvasback pair, $102,000

Miniatures and full-size works by A. Elmer Crowell (American, 1862–1952) continued to be in high demand. The top lot by this carver, the Raised-Wing Canvasback pair, changed hands for $102,000; his Golden Plover in winter plumage more than doubled its high estimate of $24,000 to bring $60,000; and the Payson Crowell Preening Dowitcher flew to a $55,350 sale price.

Horton Hollow Nantucket Golden Plover, $108,000

Horton Hollow Nantucket Golden Plover, $108,000

Nantucket decoys from the collection of Lew Horton soared high at the auction, with the Hollow Golden Plover realizing $108,000, and a pair of wind bird willets besting their $14,000 high estimate to reach $15,600.

Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait, ‘Dog with Three Quail,’ $90,000

Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait, ‘Dog with Three Quail,’ $90,000

Paintings saw active interest. A total of 96% of the 145 painting and print lots found buyers, with spirited bidding across the board. The top painting lot of the sale was Dog with Three Quail, a well-documented oil by Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait (British-American, 1819–1905) depicting a pointer on bobwhite quail, which sold for $90,000. The painting came out of a prominent Long Island estate and had been in the same family for more than 70 years.

Ewoud de Groot, ‘Snowy Owl,’ $51,000

Ewoud de Groot, ‘Snowy Owl,’ $51,000

Multiple bidders fought for Snowy Owl, a work by contemporary Dutch painter Ewoud de Groot (b. 1969-). The work soared above its high estimate of $12,000 to reach $51,000, selling to a museum.

Ogden M. Pleissner, ‘Golden Hours,’ $69,000

Ogden M. Pleissner, ‘Golden Hours,’ $69,000

Golden Hours, a watercolor depiction of fly fishing by renowned sporting artist Ogden M. Pleissner (American, 1905–1983), sold for $69,000. A watercolor by the artist depicting Atlantic salmon fishing, titled Down the York, realized $39,000. Pleissner’s Grassing the Boat brought $46,125, landing within its $40,000-$60,000 estimate.

Emile A. Gruppe, ‘Hauling the Nets,’ $42,000

Emile A. Gruppe, ‘Hauling the Nets,’ $42,000

Hauling the Nets, a bold commercial fishing scene by Emile A. Gruppe (American, 1896–1978), sailed to $42,000 on a $30,000-$50,000 estimate.

James Audubon, ‘Iceland, or Jer Falcon,’ $36,000

James Audubon, ‘Iceland, or Jer Falcon,’ $36,000

Leading the works on paper was a hand-colored engraving titled Iceland, or Jer Falcon by John James Audubon (American, 1785–1851) which sold for $36,000, more than double its $15,000 high estimate.

 

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