HYANNIS, Mass. – A classic carving of a hissing Canada goose by the esteemed carver Joseph W.
Lincoln (Hingham, Mass., 1859-1938) soared to a new record price of $299,000 at a Summer Decoy Auction offered by Decoys Unlimited, Inc., at the Cape Codder Resort and Hotel in Hyannis. Decoy enthusiasts in town for a show also attended the auction.
The hissing goose boasted superb, dry, original paint and was in impeccable condition, showing off Lincoln’s best painted feather detail. The serpentine neck terminated in an expertly crafted head. The $299,000 was the most ever paid for a Lincoln decoy at auction, and the highest price paid for any decoy at auction so far in 2016. It was easily the top achiever in the Decoys Unlimited auction that saw more than 650 lots gross about $860,000.
“I was very pleased with the results of this sale, which did better in all areas than our summer 2015 sale, and it just confirmed what I’ve known for some time – that the market is super strong for decoys at all levels,” said Ted Harmon of Decoys Unlimited, based in West Barnstable, Massachusetts. “Decoys selling for $1,000, $10,000, $75,000 and up are all in demand among collectors.”
About 300 people attended the auction in person, while another 600 or so registered to bid online, via Invaluable.com. There were also an estimated combined 300 phone and absentee bidders.
All prices include a 15 percent buyer’s premium.
— Scarce wigeon hen with individual painted feather detail on the breast and back, along by Lincoln, $10,350.
• “Sporting grade” yellowlegs, circa 1900, in Near Mint condition with original paint, $6,612.
— Seldom-seen colorful example of a miniature shoveler drake, $2,300.
Not every decoy needs to be attributed to a carver to fetch high dollars. The runner-up for top lot was a common tern decoy (circa 1870-1890), pulled from the Skala rig and discovered in an attic on Long Island, $25,875.
While Lincoln’s hissing goose may have claimed top lot and a piece by an unknown carver came in second, the rest of the list of top sellers was dominated by A. Elmer Crowell (1862-1952):
• Life-size, semi-palmated plover, rare species, hand-signed by Crowell, $17,250.
— Miniature dunlin with a downward curved bills, on a carved and painted ‘rock’ base, $3,738.
• Miniature preening pintail drake with raised wingtips, $3,450.
Decoys Unlimited will present its next auction in November. For more information, visit www.decoysunlimitedinc.net or contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 508-362-2766.