I am back in Paradise and slowly recuperating from the 47th annual National Antique Decoy Show in St Charles, Illinois. Sponsored by the Midwest Decoy Collectors Association
, it is the major international decoy collectors show of the year, accompanied by Guyette, Schmidt, & Deeter's
biggest decoy auction of the year.
People start showing up the weekend before for the Friday and Saturday official show, walking from room to room to inspect the wares of collectors who are thinning their collections and dealers happy to help add.
As usual, clik on the pic for a bigger version.
A Wisconsin collector doesn't seem to mind being ignored by a nice Mallard hen by Robert & Catherine Elliston. It has a few dings, but a lot fewer than I likely will when I am 120 or so.
One author/photographer likes to wear camoflage so she can hide in the fruit bowl at a moment's notice.
Here she is at a Guyette, Schmidt & Deeter auction preview in their hotel suite. Don't see her, do you? And you thought I was kidding.
One of the pleasures of the show is seeing old friends. This Warren Dettmann Ring-necked Duck hen sat on my parents' shelf back in the 1960s. It is a nice little decoy, in a hard to find species.
publisher Joe Engers, being studiously ignored by three fish and a duck. He doesn't seem too concerned.
Some decoy collectors have embroidered shirts so they don't forget what they are after. Others just get obsessive.
As usual, Bob Bradley of Wisconsin had some nice contemporary shorebirds. I couldn't resist the one in the third picture after he made a great offer. It is now sitting on my brother's shelf.
Art dealer and auctioneer Steve O'Brien
brought a selection of decoys and paintings from his next auction. Here is an unusual Mallard drake by Shang Wheeler.
Decoy auctioneer Ted Harmon
swung out from his base on Cape Cod to show decoys and decoratives from his summer auction.
On Wednesday night the much anticipated preview of the Guyette, Schmidt & Deeter auction opened to a happy crowd.
One of the nicer aspects of the preview is the chance to pick up the pieces and give them a really close look. Here, Dan Coombe and Tom O'Key give a Charles Walker decoy the once over. Under high magnification, Tom finally concluded that it was a Mallard drake.
Others enjoying the inspection:
Dave Henderson checks one out:
Naturally, the Pheasant Run Resort
offers alternative entertainment for those who are less interested in the preview:
The next is a pre-World War Two wooden plaque by Oscar Peterson, the great fish decoy and wall plaque carver from Cadillac, Michigan. Recently found in a rummage sale in Cadillac, the buyer put it on eBay with a Buy It Now option of $45, keyworded, not as an Oscar Peterson but as an exotic bird carving. A young collector from Kansas noticed and recognized it, hit the BIN button, and $45 and shipping later, was the delighted owner.
I have known him since he was a teenager, going to St Charles with his father, who suggested that he, being short on funds as teenagers frequently are, start by collecting the cheapest decoys he could: paper mache. He learned the ropes on under-$100 decoys.
The upshot was that it is Peterson's only known plaque depicting grouse, and is both unusually big, and early. The collector and his wife consigned it to Guyette, Schmidt & Deeter, estimated at $25,000-35,000. More on it later.
I like my camera pretty well, but it does like to pause before snapping the shutter after I push the button. This usually isn't a problem, but now and then I get unforseen results.
This bronze sashimi-head was better behaved, though:
Decoy restorer Paul Fortin
(right) was, as well:
Michael Hall and a friend are intent on a shorebird by Bill Bowman:
After the preview, people headed off to dinner at various venues. This raucus group chose the same restaurant we did:
Next morning Jim Julia started hammering down bids. In his spare time Jim is a mild-mannered gun and antiques auctioneer.
The bidding on the Oscar Peterson grouse plaque opened at $20,000 and creaped up in $5,000 increments. Here are the eponymous Gary Guyette, John Deeter, and Frank Schmidt taking phone bids while others bid from the floor:
Joe Tonelli also executing a phone bid:
$20,000. 25. 30. 35. 40. 45. 50. 55. 60. 65. 70. 75. 80. 85. 90. 95. 100. 105, and finally a half raise from the doorway at $107,500 took it home. Plus the buyer's premium it totalled $123,250. Not too bad a return on $45 plus shipping, and it could not have happened to a better guy. I talked briefly with him later, and it sounded like additions to the college fund were in line. Good going!
Decoy collectors prefer hand made decoys, and I guess decoy auctioneers prefer hand made signs. Those who bid successfully followed this sign after paying their bills, great or small:
Meanwhile, as the auction continued in it's second day, over at the MegaCenter the people tasked with setting up this year's display of antique and contemporary decoys and carvings moved into action several hours before sellers were allowed to set up their tables. That avoids the chaos and security issues of having hundreds of people milling around, moving flatbeds full of boxes. This is what the place looks like when the exhibit crew shows up:
Before the decoys are installed in the cases, DECOY Magazine's Joe Engers donates his services shooting pictures of each one for the Midwest Decoy Collectors Association records and publicity:
Walt Hallbauer starts installing the decoys, this year from Upstate New York:
Stands and labels:
Here are a few of my favorites from the Upstate New York exhibit. First, a Hooded Merganser drake by Julius Mittlesteadt:
A Dick Morehouse Canvasback drake:
A preening Redhead drake by Chancy Patterson:
Finally, in the contemporary exhibit (not part of the Upstate NY antique decoy exhibit) a contemporary Mallard drake by Ben Heinemann:
This year's exhibit committee co-chairmen, Tom Eckert and Walt Hallbauer:
Reflections in the MegaCenter's mezzanine windows caught my eye. So color me wierd.
The show opened at 2:00 PM, and our friendly roving photographer in camoflage naturally made her appearance:
Kristin Lehmkuhl put together an exhibit of Wisconsin birds entitled "Decoys With Attitude". In front of her is one of the top Gus Moak Canvasbacks to be seen, next one of the best Mandt Homme Cans from the Sherrer rig:
Decoy maker Mike Valley of Wisconsin had a table again, and a young lady apparently on the prowl for the ever elusive butterfly decoy made the rounds.
Along with decoys there were plenty of other examples of American folk art:
This attention grabbing fish decoy was about two and a half feet long:
These were more modestly sized, but sported some nice colors:
Dick McIntyre had a table full of fine old decoys, including the Yellowlegs in his hand,and a unique 19th century Obediah Verity preening bluebill sculpted from a single block of wood.
This old cloth owl, used for hunting crows, caught my eye:
So did this lovely example of a George Boyd Yellowlegs, offered by Russ Goldberger of RJG Antiques
After the auction Guyette, Schmidt & Deeter filled their booth with decoys to be auctioned this summer:
This visitor seemed pleased to model:
Connie Kieckhefer gave a serious look at an early 20th century trophy:
I have an early 20th century Long-billed Curlew decoy by a carver known only as "The Lumber Yard Maker", so this trio of Yellowlegs by him got my attention. They are a bit the worse for wear, but a nice set, and sets are hard to come by: most have been long broken up:
Some decoy aficionados start early:
That's all, Folks!
PS: Well, not quite all. The Beckhart duck call which walked in for a free appraisal was big news among those who knew about it, but I think few had a chance to see it. The owners have consigned it to Guyette, Schmidt & Deeter. For an article about the possibly $100,000 call, see here.
For better pictures, try Joe and Donna Tonelli's page here.
Now it's past time for me to mow the lawn.
Labels: decoy, folk art, Gus Moak, Laing, MDCA, pics