Important Long-Billed Curlew Pair Thomas Gelston (1851-1924) Quogue, Long Island, NY, c. 1890 19 1/2 in. long
Thomas Gelston shorebird decoys in original paint are hard to come by and are prized by collectors. In fact, among all of the exceptional shorebirds and waterfowl from Long Island, it is a Gelston curlew that holds the region’s auction record. This grand, full-bodied, long-billed curlew pair showcases the maker’s animated poses, raised wings, and bold paint patterns. This dynamic pair reflects one bird in a content posture and the other alert.
The high-head decoy has the Shelburne Museum inventory code “27.FD 19.7” under the tail. A related serial number is on lot 222, the Shourds curlew in this sale.
The tucked-head decoy is out of John Levinson’s collection, the author of Shorebirds: The Birds, The Hunters, The Decoys. Original paint with gunning wear, replaced bills, touch-up to reset neck on high head, and an age line in neck of tucked head.
Provenance: Shelburne Museum Collection (high head) Shelburne Museum Collection (high head) John and Elizabeth Levinson Collection (tucked head) Grant Nelson Collection (both)
Literature: Christie's, "The Russell B. Aitken Collection of Waterfowl Decoys," New York, NY, 2003, p. 123, lot 1307, related decoy illustrated. Quintina Colio, "American Decoys," Ephrata, PA, 1972, p. 54 and front cover, related example illustrated. Robert Shaw, "Bird Decoys of North America," New York, NY, 2010, p. 182, related examples illustrated.
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