A. Elmer Crowell (1862-1952)
East Harwich, MA, c. 1910
13 in. long
An exemplary full-bodied willet with a split tail and glass eyes. The carving is branded "P.W.W." twice for Parker Williams "Buck" Whittemore (1872-1959). Whittemore is featured in “Elmer Crowell: Father of American Bird Carving” as one of the carver’s important early benefactors. He was a Harvard graduate, class of 1895, where he captained the baseball team. A manufacturer of railroad cars, Whittemore lived in West Gloucester and Boston’s Back Bay. He also had an estate in Wareham, Massachusetts, and hunted on Cape Cod. Known for their bold forms and exceptional stippled-paint patterns, Crowell took tremendous care in carving these early shorebird rigs for his affluent patrons. The basis of the pattern, especially the drawn-back head, is comparable to Crowell’s calling yellowlegs. The brief period during which he carved these life-like working decoys was just prior to the passing of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.
A "Nelson" stamp, denoting the Grant Nelson Collection, is displayed on the underside along with an early collector's sticker with number "1" designation. This sticker likely indicates the number one shorebird from the collection of Winsor White. White was an early collector from Duxbury, Massachusetts, who put together one of the great early decoy collections back in the 1950s and influenced Dr. George Ross Starr, also from Duxbury. White had exceptional taste, owning not one, but two Lothrop Holmes mergansers.
Excellent original paint with minor gunning wear and some minor touch-up to the original bill, and two tiny flakes on right side.
Provenance: Parker W. "Buck" Whittemore Rig
Grant Nelson Collection
Literature: Stephen B. O'Brien Jr. and Chelsie W. Olney, "Elmer Crowell: Father of American Bird Carving," Hingham, MA, 2019, pp. 140-141, rigmate illustrated.
John and Shirley Delph, "New England Decoys," Exton, PA, 1990, p. 153, similar decoy illustrated.
Linda and Gene Kangas, “Connecting the Dots: Exploring the provenance of Elmer Crowell's decoys,” Decoy Magazine, March/April 2010, p. 33, rigmates illustrated.
Copley Fine Art Auctions, LLC, “The Harry V. Long Collection of A. Elmer Crowell Decoys,” The Sporting Sale, Boston, MA, 2009, lot 64, pp. 24, 73 and dust jacket cover, Long calling yellowlegs decoy illustrated.
Please email condition report requests to firstname.lastname@example.org. Any condition statement given is a courtesy to customers, Copley will not be held responsible for any errors or omissions. The absence of a condition statement does not imply that the lot is in perfect condition.