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Rare Flying Yellowlegs Shorebird Decoy by Herbert S. Randall (1900 – 1971), Seabrook, New Hampshire, circa 1950s. Herbert was the son of Herbert L. Randall (b. 1867), a “market hunter”, a shoe maker, and a decoy carver. He grew up working with his father in the market hunting arena, eventually working as a shoe maker, and a decoy carver. In some way Herbert was a jack of all trades, working as a hunting/fishing guide, in construction at the Naval shipyard in the 1940s, and finishing up as a carpenter, all the while carving shorebirds and duck decoys for the local population and the tourist industry. Randall’s work with shorebird decoys is well-known, so identifying the age of particular decoys is a bit difficult. While his style is fairly consistent, some decoys have his classic carrying staple on the bottom, others include his name carved with a linoleum cutter, and still later others are found with the name stamped with individual letters. His early work from the 1920s, ‘30s, and ‘40s appears to be more refined and toward the end of his life the work is rather poor. This Flying Yellowlegs displays a Number of Randall’s Classic Shorebird Characteristics: The Body Form is Typical of his Yellowlegs’ Style, the Tack Eyes are Standard, the Design of the Bill is Common, and the Carved “Randall” on the Underside is a Frequent Mark. What adds to this decoys Uniqueness are the Applied Wings which Envision the Form of a Flying Yellowlegs. The Paint is All Original and show the Typical “Aged” Look of Randall’s Shorebird. The Decoy measures 12” in length, a Wing Span of 12 ½”, and a height of 12”. Randall’s obituary notes that “He was well-known in the Seacoast area as a carver of wooden decoys birds.”
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Very Appealing Greater Yellowlegs Shorebird Decoy by an Unknown Maker identified as from Somers Point, New Jersey, circa 1890, on pg. 96 in Levinson & Headley’s Shorebirds. Some members of the Long Island Decoy Collectors Association have indicated that Robert Staniford, owner of Wildfowler at Quogue, Long Island, found 2 of these decoys at the Thorne Boathouse in North Hampton, suggesting they are Long Island decoys. Whatever the origin, this shorebird does have a Strong New Jersey Form, displays Excellent Original Paint, has Carved Eyes circled in a Worn Yellow, and an Iron Bill that may or may not be original. There is a Chip out of the back where the stick hole drove through the wood, partially covered by a dowell. The Decoy was in the Levinson Collection and was therefore incorporated into the book on shorebirds. As a Greater Yellowlegs, it measures 13” in length, 2 ¾” in width, and 12” in height, including the stand. A Very Appealing Shorebird Decoy.
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Price $1350 plus shipping
Early Red Knot Shorebird Decoy by Eugene Cuffee (1866 – 1941), Shinnecock Reservation, Long Island, New York, circa 1890 – 1920. This particular shorebird reflects both the basic field marks of a Red Knot Shorebird and the Native American Paint Pattern associated with Eugene Cuffee’s historical work. Cuffee carved over a long period of time, creating everything from Large Curlews with Whale Bone Bills to Little Peep Decoys. Eventually a good deal of his work was obtained by antique dealers, probably associated with an Art Colony across from the reservation, who created bookends and lamps with his decoys to sell in New York City. This Red Knot Decoy displays an Antique Whale Bone Bill, a common material on the reservation as a consequence of Shinnecocks working on whaling ships out of Sag Harbor, Considerable Age with Strong Original Paint, Carved Eyes, and Cuffee’s Typical Raised Primaries. There is a small chip off one wing and “in the making” filler to a defect in the wood on one side (see photographs). The Paint Pattern on the decoy is very typical of Cuffee’s work, and the Solid Wood Body is one source of identification. Measurements: 11” in length, 2 ½” in width, 11 ¼” in height, including the stand. A Wonderful Early Native American Shorebird Decoy from the Shinnecock Reservation.
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Price $2950 plus shipping
Early Black-bellied Plover Shorebird Decoy by an Unknown Maker from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, circa 1880s – 1900. This Fine Shorebird Decoy which has seen use in the field, displays Strong Original Paint with Wear to the Wood in some places. The Whiteish Paint appears to have been put on rather thinly with no primer; whereas, the Black Paint was placed much more heavily, though both areas show wear. The Decoy is Quite Full-bodied and rather heavy compared to the majority of Shorebirds. A reasonable guess suggests that the bird was made from Mahogany or Walnut, most likely Mahogany. The Decoy is nicely carved down to a Pointed Tail and Each Side of the Tail is Incised to Suggest Primary Wing Separation. The Bill was Dowelled into the Front Head and Held in Place with a Dowell through the Top of the Head. After the Bill was carved down, apparently chip carved, it was split in use and reattached. That Split has been professionally restored and retouched. The photographs should help clarify the description. Measurements: 11” in length, 3” in width, and 13 ½” in height, including the stand. A Fine Cape Cod Black-bellied Plover Decoy.
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Price $1375 plus shipping
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