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Banding Together for Waterfowl

Rare Decoys to Sell at Christie’s


NEW YORK, January 18, 2007 – Several rare waterfowl decoys are part of an auction being offered by Guyette & Schmidt and Christie’s auction house in New York City on Friday. Some of the most sought after decoys will come from the collection of Dr. Alvin Friedman-Kien. The group includes several examples from the greatest decoy makers, including Elmer Crowell and Lothrop Holmes among others.

Guyette & Schmidt is the world’s largest antique decoy auction firm. Last October, it oversaw the showing at Memphis Brooks Museum of Art of  “The Art of Deception: Waterfowl Decoys from the Collection of Paul Tudor Jones II” which was co-hosted by Ducks Unlimited and the Greater Memphis Arts Council as part of the Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest.

Canada goose, 19th Century,
carver unknown
A very rare and important Canada goose decoy leads the Friedman-Kien collection. With its extraordinary lines and graceful silhouette, this magnificent example is one of only three known. This 19th Century, large carved decoy has a removable head and neck that dovetails into the body and exhibits a finely detailed head and bill. The carver is unknown, but the estimated value of the decoy is $300,000-$500,000.
Elmer Crowell,
Great Grey Heron
An extremely rare great grey heron decoy by Elmer Crowell (1862-1952) of East Harwich, Mass., is one of the highlights of the sale. Crowell is considered by many to be North America’s most famous decoy carver. Waterfowl hunters are familiar with the use of heron decoys as “confidence” decoys placed on the outskirts of a working set of duck decoys when duck hunting. The heron is an extremely wary bird and the belief among hunters is incoming ducks seeing a heron at the edge of a decoy spread are likely to have more confidence in landing to join the group. The estimated value of the decoy is $100,000-$150,000.
Lothrop Holmes,
Red-breasted Merganser
Another decoy that should generate a lot of interest is a rare red-breasted merganser hen carved by Lothrop Holmes (1824-1899) of Kingston, Mass. It is one of only six mergansers attributed to Holmes. Its estimated value is $400,000-$600,000.

Most of the collection for sale was originally acquired from Adele Earnest, who was a co-founder of the American Art Museum. Go to www.christies.com to see all of the decoys for sale.

With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands - nature’s most productive ecosystem - and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres each year.


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