A Stellar Southern Decoy Collection Goes on Sale this Week

The finest decoy collection ever assembled in the South was too big to sell all at once, says Copley Fine Art Auctions decoy specialist Colin McNair, who helped auction the first half of the Peter J. Muller Jr. collection at the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition in Charleston, South Carolina, last year. The late Muller, a Louisiana-born, Atlanta-based veterinarian and sportsman, collected decoys throughout the South and beyond. His circa 1920 swan by the Virginia carver Charles Birch sold for a whopping $210,000 last year, and “session two is set up to be every bit as exciting,” McNair says. The two-day auction will take place over livestream beginning February 19. The collection includes a feeding brant and curlew that the heralded Nathan F. Cobb Jr. carved on Cobb Island, Virginia, in the 1880s; a standout hollow hissing goose from Chincoteague, Virginia’s Ira D. Hudson; and a canvasback pair from Maryland’s famed Ward Brothers. Day two of the auction, on February 20, brings items from collectors and artists around the South, including a circa 1890 Lee Dudley bluebill hen from Knotts Island, North Carolina. “It’s petite and refined, and it’s one of the sweetest birds ever carved in the Carolinas,” McNair says. Absentee, telephone, and live online bidding are available. Click here for more auction details and to see the entire catalog.

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Nathan F. Cobb Jr., the Mackey-Muller Cobb Feeding Brant, c. 1880.

Nathan F. Cobb Jr., the Cobb Feeding Curlew, Cobb Island, VA, c. 1880.

Dr. Peter Muller in Atlanta with decoys that are a part of what Copley calls the finest collection ever assembled in the South.

A. Elmer Crowell, the du Pont Preening Curlew, East Harwich, MA, 1941

Lem and Steve Ward by their Maryland workshop.

The Ward Brothers, the Purnell-Muller Ward Canvasback Pair.

Nathan F. Cobb Jr., the Mackey-Muller Swimming Cobb Goose, Cobb Island, VA, c. 1880.

Lee Dudley, Bluebill, Knotts Island, NC, c. 1890.

The Ward Brothers, the Bishops Head Black Duck Pair.

A. Elmer Crowell, Exceptional Bobwhite Quail Pair, East Harwich, MA, 1938.

The Bush Collection Monkey Island Swan, Monkey Island, NC, c. 1880.

Ira D. Hudson, Outstanding Hollow Hissing Goose, Chincoteague, VA, c. 1930.

The Ward Brothers, the du Pont Canada Goose Pair.

Nathan F. Cobb Jr., the Muller Cobb Black Duck, Cobb Island, VA, c. 1880.

The Ward Brothers, Standing Blue-Winged Teal Pair, Crisfield, MD.

A. Elmer Crowell, Turned-Head Wood Duck, East Harwich, MA, c. 1925.

Ira D. Hudson, Merganser Pair, Chincoteague, VA, c. 1935.

One of more than fifteen lots by Mark McNair from Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

Elmer Crowell at work.

One of hundreds of X-rays produced by Copley during cataloging research. Every decoy in the Muller Collection has been x-rayed.