Nathan F. Cobb Jr. (1825-1905)
Cobb Island, VA, c. 1880
14 1/4 in. long
..[The Cobbs] were determined to produce the best decoys possible, and their work excellently served the needs of both the nineteenth-century hunter and the modern collector.” -William J. Mackey, Jr. American Bird Decoys
“Everywhere I went, people told me that they had given or sold their decoys to Mr. Roy Bull, and I should go down to Townsend and see him,” recalled legendary Southern collector William Purnell in his 1983 introduction to The Roy Bull Decoy Collection catalog. Purnell points out that Bull’s position in “the seafood business provided him with the best contacts for finding decoys.” Bull was born and raised in Northampton County on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. He and his wife Lula were ardent and early collectors, searching for birds along not only the Eastern Shore, but the whole Mid-Atlantic coast. While reporting on Bull’s prized decoys, Purnell discussed the c. 1968 acquisition of this “very rare hen bluebill” from Mr. and Mrs. Warren Cobb of Cheriton, Virginia. This featured decoy achieved the third highest price in the historic Bull sale, with only a Cobb brant and black duck surpassing it.
The construction of this decoy features a deep wing cut, a hollow body, and an inlayed head. The surface has an appealing bone-dry patina. A testament of the bird’s quality, the carved eyes and Nathan’s proudly incised “N” are among the deepest incised cuts found on any Cobb decoy. This Cobb treasure is one of the finest bluebills to ever be offered for sale from this remote island. Original paint with even gunning wear.
Provenance: Nathan F. Cobb, Jr. Rig
Mr. and Mrs. Warren Cobb Collection, by descent from
Roy Bull Collection, acquired from the above, c. 1968
Literature: Richard A. Bourne, Inc., "The Roy Bull Decoy
Collection," Hyannis, MA, March 1983, lot 499, exact decoy illustrated.
Henry A. Fleckenstein, Jr., "Southern Decoys of Virginia and the Carolinas," Exton, PA, 1983, p. 192, exact decoy illustrated.
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