Copley’s Winter Sale 2020

The Dr. Peter J. Muller Jr. Collection of American Bird Decoys
The Dr. Peter J. Muller Jr. Collection of American Bird Decoys

USA – -( On Friday, February 14 and Saturday, February 15, Copley Fine Art Auctions, LLC, the nation’s premier decoy and sporting art auction house, will make their annual sojourn to the Southeastern Wildlife Expo (SEWE) with their Winter Sale 2020. The sale will offer the opportunity to see and take home world-class paintings and bird carvings. The auction will be held at the Charleston Marriott, located at SEWE’s bustling riverfront venue. Items will be available to preview on Friday, February 14 from 3–5pm and Saturday, February 15 from 8:30–10am.

The Copley’s Winter Sale 2020 live auction will begin at 10am on Saturday, February 15 2019.

Returning to South Carolina for the sixth year in a row, Copley’s Winter Sale will showcase four collections of bird carvings: The Dr. Peter J. Muller Jr. Collection of American Bird Decoys, Session II of The Dr. Morton D. Kramer Collection, Decoys from The William J. Butler Jr. Estate, and An Important Collection of Carvings by A. Elmer Crowell.

Dr. Peter J. Muller Jr. is known for assembling one of the very first curated collections of premier American bird decoys. He was introduced to the field in the 1960s and his early mentor was William J. Mackey Jr., the author of the seminal book American Bird Decoys. After the esteemed collector’s sudden passing in 1973, Muller participated in all eight of the Mackey auction sessions, acquiring many of his iconic works. Following this summer’s release of the A. Elmer Crowell book and Harmon Collection catalog, Copley’s decoy specialists, Stephen B. O’Brien Jr., Chelsie Olney, and Colin S. McNair, have been hard at work writing a dedicated Muller Collection catalog in addition to the main Winter Sale catalog. The stand-alone Muller Collection catalog will feature the following Mackey Collection stars, several of which are expected to bring six figures in February: a Swan by Charles Birch (1867–1956), carved circa 1920, an exceedingly rare Hooded Merganser Pair, circa 1935, by Chincoteague Islander Ira D. Hudson (1873–1949), an exquisite Long-Tailed Drake by Harry V. Shourds (1861–1920), a rare Mason Decoy Factory Long-Tailed Drake, and a Joseph Lincoln (1859–1938) Swimming Canada Goose.

This year’s Winter Sale catalog will feature a “Dust-Jacket” Yellowlegs by A. Elmer Crowell (1862–1952), carved circa 1910, (Estimate: $100/150,000). The term “dust jacket” was coined by collectors because carvings from these early rigs were chosen for the covers of William J. Mackey Jr.’s American Bird Decoys and John and Shirley Delph’s New England Decoys. Another top New England lot will be a Charles Safford (1877–1957) Canada Goose from the maker’s personal rig ($30/50,000). This important decoy is related to the Safford Sleeping Goose. One more decoy bringing together iconic form and important provenance is the Feeding Yellowlegs by Fred Nichols (1854–1924) which hails from the Dr. James M. McCleery Collection ($65/85,000).

The paintings are led by a rare watercolor depiction of western pheasant hunting by noted sporting artist Ogden M. Pleissner (1905–1983) (Estimate: $40/60,000). The light and landscape Pleissner captures in this work is stunning. The Winter Sale will also feature top-quality dog art, perfect for the SEWE crowd, including an atmospheric Percival Rosseau (1859–1937) oil portrait depicting a setter and pointer (Estimate: $30/50,000) and a masterwork by Gustav Muss-Arnolt (1858–1927) of two setters (Estimate: $16/24,000). Also set to cross the block is a significant work featuring an English springer spaniel with a pheasant by Thomas Blinks (1860–1912), an English artist who flourished during the Victorian era (Estimate: $18/24,000). Watercolors by Edmund H. Osthaus (1858–1928) and Arthur Wardle (1864–1949) round out the offering of paintings depicting working dogs.

Leading the works on paper slated for the sale is a beautifully bound set of seven octavo volumes of Birds of America by John James Audubon (1785–1851) joined with the three Quadrupeds of North America volumes, which the famed artist put together with his son John and Dr. John Bachman of Charleston, South Carolina (Estimate: $30/50,000).


Copley’s fine art specialist Leah Tharpe is excited to bring these important Audubon works back to Charleston, a significant place in the artist’s life. Copley will offer items from the Estate of Alfred F. King III. King was the owner of The Sportsman’s Edge gallery in New York City for many years. Works from his collection include two drawings and an acrylic by Bob Kuhn (1920–2007) and important paintings by father-son wildlife artists Tom (1926–2000) and Greg Beecham (b. 1954).

Exemplary works by sporting art masters include paintings and works on paper by Frank W. Benson (1862–1951), Richard E. Bishop (1887-1975), David Hagerbaumer (1921–2014), Aiden Lassell Ripley (1896–1969), Carl Rungius (1869-1959), Wilhelm Kuhnert (1865–1926), Ken Carlson (b. 1937), David A. Maass (b. 1929), and William Goadby Lawrence (1913–2002).

Additionally, six bronzes by contemporary sculptor Walter Matia will be available, including Curlew Pair (Estimate: $1/1,500) and a pair of Avocets, which was the artist’s first sculpture (Estimate: $1/1,500). Two works by rising Dutch artist Ewoud de Groot, one depicting a curlew and the other a group of oystercatchers, are included (Estimates: $8/12,000). Further contemporary artists included in the sale are Chet Reneson, Luke Frazier, Kent Ullberg, John Kobald, Mike Stidham, Rod Serbousek, and Thomas Aquinas Daly, among others.

For over a decade, Copley’s auctions have led the fields of sporting art and decoys with first-rate offerings and strong results. The firm’s successes in these fields are, in large part, due to its in-depth research, use of x-rays, cataloging, and accurate reporting. Copley’s database, with over 12,000 objects, is the largest and most accurate resource of its kind available to the public. The ability to use this powerful tool gives buyers and sellers alike the confidence to participate in the market at the highest level.

Copley Fine ArtsIn just over a decade, Copley has placed twenty-nine lots on Decoy Magazine’s “100 All-Time High Prices” list, more than all of the other auction firms combined during this era. In addition, Copley has set over thirty world records for American and sporting artists, including Ogden Pleissner, Aiden Lassell Ripley, Edmund Osthaus, A. B. Frost, Lynn Bogue Hunt, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, Francis Lee Jaques, William J. Koelpin, Sr., Chet Reneson, Thomas Aquinas Daly, and William Goadby Lawrence, among others.

Winter Sale catalogs can be ordered at Telephone and absentee bidding are available, and online bidding will be offered through Bidsquare and the sporting art industry’s first app, Copley Live. For more information, call 617.536.0030 or email