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Bird dogs point the way during $1.4M winter sale

Hundreds of bird dog paintings, decoys, fly rods and other fishing collectibles, changed hands to the tune of $1.4M during Copley Fine Arts' Winter Sale.

CHARLESTON, S.C. - Copley Fine Art Auctions, LLC realized more than $1.4 million in sales at The Winter Sale 2017, held at the American Theater on February 17 in Charleston, South Carolina. The sale was comprised of paintings, prints, folk art, and antique and contemporary decoy carvings.

Copley’s owner and principal Stephen B. O’Brien Jr., said, “There was no question that broader markets had an impact on this sale. We saw some of the most competitive bidding in seven years. All facets of the sale were exceptionally strong with the possible exception of the Benson watercolors. Though his Wood Duck sold for $37,200, the highest price for any of his watercolors since 2011, it is clear that it is a buyer’s market when it comes to Benson at the moment.”

Harrick-Ward Yellowlegs Tops Winter Sale

Yellowlegs decoy

Herrick-Ward Yellowlegs, circa 1900, commands $90,000.

The top lot and top decoy of the sale was the Herrick-Ward Yellowlegs, which sold for $90,000. The next highest decoy lot was the McCleery Golden Plover by Charles Sumner Bunn or Bill Bowman, which brought $69,000, and a rare swan by Charles Birch sold for $60,000.

Two painting lots revealed that works of hunting dogs in action continue to be in high demand. Two pieces by Edmund Osthaus outperformed their estimates to become the top painting lots of the sale; Pointer and Quail sold for $63,000, and On Point brought $44,400. In 2008 Copley set the world record for the eminent sporting dog artist Edmund Osthaus when they sold Pointer with Quail for $230,500.

A selection of John Henry Dick watercolors got the auction off to a strong start. A work depicting painted redstarts and warblers sold for $2,520, and a painting of olive warblers with a butterfly sold for $2,280. Four shorebird pen and ink drawings brought $1,800.

Hunting Scene Prompts Bidding Battle

An English fox hunting scene by George Goodwin Kilburne saw active bidding; Kilburne’s oil painting titled The Beaufort Meeting at Frocester, which dates from 1904 and depicts one of the oldest and most famous hunts in the United Kingdom, sold for $32,400.

Tails, an oil painting by Bonefish & Tarpon Trust’s (BTT) 2017 Artist of the Year John Swan, brought an impressive $12,000. Once again, proceeds from the sale will benefit this conservation organization; an anonymous donor agreed to a matching gift of up to $10,000 on this work. The funds generated from the sale of this painting will fund needed research on bonefish, tarpon, and permit, along with their sensitive ecosystems.

Paintings and bronzes from earned strong results, as David LeRoy Schaefer’s Eagle Catching a Fish brought $1,500; a pair of hunting dog bookends, after French artist Jules Moigniez and stamped “Tiffany and Co.,” sold for $3,690. Marilyn Newmark’s diminutive pony bronze, First Meeting, rang in at $1,140.

Fly Rods Net Wide-Spread Appeal

Fishing items, particularly fly rods, exceeded estimates. Two H. L. Leonard rods sold for $3,300 –

Osthaus "On Point"

Edmund H. Osthaus (1858-1928), On Point, oil on canvas, $44,000.

more than five times the high estimate of $600. An E. F. Payne Rod Co. bamboo fly rod hammered down at $2,520. Additionally, Canadian carver and fisherman Thomas Brayshaw’s fish carvings performed well, with a “priest” carving of a brown trout bringing $1,800 and his steelhead trout carving selling for $8,100.

After more than 200 fine art and fishing lots, auctioneer Peter Coccoluto continued on to decoys without a break. The second session began with a collection of George H. Boyd miniature carvings performing within or above their estimates, including a black duck pair that sold for $3,900, and a Lincoln wood duck that brought $2,160. A top-performing yellowlegs decoy started a bidding war; it eventually sold for $90,000. A golden plover decoy sold to the same bidder for $69,000.

Copley Fine Art Auctions, LLC is preparing for its Sporting Sale 2017 which returns to Plymouth, Massachusetts in late July, with consignments accepted through April 15 or until full. For a free confidential auction estimate, call 617-536-0030 or email A full list of official prices realized from Copley’s Winter Sale 2017 is available at