A. Elmer Crowell (1862-1952)
East Harwich, MA, c. 1915
goose is 5 3/4 in. long
Crowell created three varieties of miniature bird carving sets, each with twenty-five pieces. These sets were of either waterfowl, shorebirds, or songbirds, which he sold to not only his decoy buyers and seasonal tourists, but also schools and museums around the nation for species identification purposes.
This important, newly-discovered group of miniatures represents a full Crowell waterfowl set, numbered one through twenty-five on the underside of each carving. Each bird is original to this set. The vast majority of the original Crowell sets have been broken up over the years, making this a rare opportunity to acquire a single flock with remarkable consistency from bird to bird.
This is one of the earliest complete sets known to exist. This lot includes the following birds listed by their assigned number. Crowell's names are included in parentheses.
1. Mallard drake
2. Mallard hen
3. Pintail drake
4. Pintail hen
5. Redhead drake
6. Redhead hen
7. Bufflehead drake
8. Bufflehead hen
9. Bluebill drake
10. Bluebill hen
11. Red-Breasted Merganser drake
12. Red-Breasted Merganser hen
13. Canvasback drake
14. Canvasback hen
15. Green-Winged Teal drake
17. American merganser drake (gooseander)
18. Blue-Winged Teal drake
19. Hooded Merganser drake
20. Black Duck
21. Goldeneye drake
22. Long-Tailed Duck drake (old squaw)
23. Wood Duck drake
24. Ruddy Duck drake
25. Canada Goose
The set as a whole is in excellent original paint with minor wear and rubs.
Ruddy duck, canvasback drake, and hooded merganser have very minor chips to bill tips. Bufflehead hen and goldeneye drake have partial bill replacements. Red-breasted merganser hen has a crack in bill. Canada goose has an age line in neck with minor flaking. Canvasback hen is missing its bill. Bluebill hen has chip to tail.
Provenance: Private Collection, Philadelphia, acquired from the maker and by descent in the family
Literature: A. E. Crowell, Cape Cod Memories, in "Duck Shooting Along the Atlantic Tidewater," Eugene V. Connett, ed., New York, NY, 1947, pp. 59-60.
Brian Cullity, "The Songless Aviary," Hyannis, MA, 1992, pp. 90-99, similar birds illustrated.
Stephen B. O'Brien Jr. and Chelsie W. Olney, "Elmer Crowell: Father of American Bird Carving," Hingham, MA, 2019, pp. 240-241, similar set illustrated.
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