Obediah Verity (1813-1901)
Seaford, Long Island, NY, c. 1880
10 1/4 in. long
A shorebird with one of the world's longest migrations, the robin snipe, or red knot as it is commonly known, has long been sought after by decoy collectors. Decoy historian Henry Fleckenstein states "...few robin snipe or knot decoys that were made by Verity have been collected." Fellow author Jeff Waingrow, discussing Long Island shorebird decoys, states, "Much of the local production was of yellowlegs and plover, though sanderlings, curlews, terns, knots, and turnstones are all known. Most were carved in a conventional pose, so those few yellowlegs and plover in feeding postures are sought with special avidity..." He continues, "Almost any shorebird from the area is highly collectible, for as most advanced collectors will agree there was a consistently high standard set in that small town that knows no equal in the entire world of decoys." The Verity name is literally synonymous with the sporting mecca of Seaford having at one time been called Verity Town. The virtual absence of a feeding robin snipe among the known plover and yellowlegs feeders found in publications has been the subject of notable attention. One celebrated comparable can be found in the pages of William J. Mackey and Quintina Colio's books.
Aside from rarity, the form of this red knot places it among Verity's finest patterns. The elegant clean design displays a deep feeding pose that perfectly captures the probing nature of the species. Verity aficionados will recognize that the Verity wing carving is worthy of special attention. The carver's raised wing treatment is broadly known to have an S-curve at the front of the wing and a sharp V-form at the wing-tip resolution. This inspired example flips these elements with a sharp V-cut in the front and perfectly executed arcs at the wing tips.
Like carving masters A. Elmer Crowell and Fred Nichols of Massachusetts, this Long Island maker appears to be executing astute adjustments for the special deep feeding posture. The placement of the sharp V-incision on the side of the bird serves as a perfect contrast to the round and sweeping lines that otherwise dominate the pattern.
This rare, and perhaps unique, example is among the finest decoys to survive the intense hunting conditions of the famous sporting destination. The surface is finished with the artist's tight stippled paint and a light scattering of shot, a signature of the area. This Seaford jewel is among the finest red knot decoys from any region.
Original paint with even gunning wear, some gunning touch-up to feathering and breast, replaced bill.
Provenance: Dr. Peter J. Muller Jr. Collection, acquired at William Doyle Galleries, November 1981
Literature: Robert Shaw, "Bird Decoys of North America," New York, NY, 2010, p. 180, related examples illustrated including upright robin snipe and feeding plover.
Jeff Waingrow, "American Wildfowl Decoys," New York, NY, 1989, p. 42, feeding yellowlegs illustrated.
Henry A. Fleckenstein Jr., "Shore Bird Decoys," Exton, PA, 1980, p. 25, upright knot illustrated.
William J. Mackey Jr., "American Bird Decoys," New York, NY, 1965, p. 102, Mackey feeding knot illustrated.
Quintina Colio, "American Decoys," Ephrata, PA, 1972, p. 73, Mackey feeding knot illustrated.
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