In 1971 a South Florida real estate developer was visiting in Texas when he saw the most remarkable carving of a bird he had ever seen in Texas Highway Magazine. The magazine contained an article about the carver, James Eddleman of Lubbock, Texas. The developer immediately ordered an example of Eddleman’s life size Mockingbird for delivery to his mountain retreat in Transylvania County, N.C., near Brevard at a cost of $1,250. When it arrived he ordered several more birds to be delivered over the next year. At the completion of the order he was so pleased he ordered one of every bird Eddleman had carved.
Eddleman informed him that he had an 800-bird carving backlog and it would take him at least eight years to fill it. However, since the developer by then was the single largest owner of Eddleman birds, he consented to work in the new order at the rate of one or two a year. In 1975 Eddleman presented him a Master Carving of a family of Blue Jays along with the $5,000 bill. Over the years the developer accumulated a sizeable number of Eddleman’s works and when he died in the mid 1990s his estate donated eleven birds from the collection a local non-profit organization which has now consigned them to Jack Eubanks Auctions.
This is the Mockingbird that started the collection in 1971.
This is the largest accumulation of Eddleman’s work outside of Southwest Gallery in Dallas. Each bird in a series is numbered and carved completely of basswood. Even the leaves and realistic foliage is carved from wood. Legs and claws are fashioned of wire and taxidermist eyes are used for realism and each bird is painted by hand. “Real enough to fly away. The only thing missing is the warble” is a frequent comment when Eddleman’s birds are first encountered. All of the birds are life size and the carving work is so detailed that individual ribs in each feather are visible.
But there will be lots more than birds flying across the Eubanks block on May 3. Included in the other 500+ lots will be the popular version of the Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40 from 1974, a large Griswold collection, historically important silver from a local prominent family and significant works of art.
Included in the artwork will be an oil on board Florida landscape, 24 by 30in, by one of the famous Florida Highwaymen, James Gibson. The work is typical of Gibson’s art showing the scenery in exquisite detail. Other art will include a signed and numbered lithograph by Alexander Calder (American 1898–1976), a woodcut, Maiko, by Kiyoshi Saito (Japanese 1907-1997), an etching, Polperro 1923 signed by Kerr Eby (American 1889-1946) as well as works by John Taylor Arms (American, 1887-1953), a watercolor by W. N. Bartholomew (American 182201898), a landscape by S. Seymour Thomas (American 1868-1956) and two signed Salvador Dali prints acquired by the consignor in 1978 and appraised in 1981 and 1990.