Bronze Duck-Head Pen Rest Joel D. Barber (1876-1952) Wilton, CT, c. 1926 13 3/4 in. long
This is an exceedingly rare bronze of this type, fashioned with a dozen extra rippling waves compared to the regular edition. "B / 26" with a copyright mark is engraved on the side of the head for Barber and year it was cast.
Barber writes of these bronze black duck heads in "Wild Fowl Decoys:" “In Plate No. 99 I show a decoy head cast in bronze. I whittled it myself but used as a model an old decoy from the lower Jersey Coast. The body of this decoy was little more than a float to receive a skin but the head was very fine. My jackknife copy of this head reproduced in bronze was sold by art galleries over a period of several years and in considerable numbers. I have always considered the unknown original maker a real artist. Even though he lived and worked, unknown on the Jersey barrens, his Black Duck head has been perpetuated. The feather of accomplishment does not belong to me. I merely whittled what he conceived. After a fashion, however, it vindicates my interest in the art of decoy making. The decoy itself is now a highly prized item of my collection. After my coveting it for several years, the former owner, Mr. J. H. Phillips of Babylon, gave it to me for my records of Barnegat Bay.”
Only a handful of regular-edition black duck head bronzes have hit the auction block over the decades, and they are always in strong demand. This marks the first time we have ever seen or offered this deluxe edition model. Original condition with minor wear and loose pen sheath.
Provenance: Ronald S. Swanson Collection
Literature: oel Barber, "Wild Fowl Decoys," Garden City, NY, 1937, p. 131, pl. 99, related example illustrated.
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