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Early and Important Canada Goose Decoy, George Warin (1830-1905)

Early and Important Canada Goose Decoy, George Warin (1830-1905)

Item Description:

George Warin (1830-1905)
Toronto Island, Ontario, Canada, c. 1883
20 1/2 in. long

“The best of the Warin geese, according to [Bruce] Malcom, who has acquired a small flock of them, came out of the St. Clair Flats Shooting Company. His favorite (and the author’s too) was made for Charles H. Gooderham of Toronto, a club member from 1883-1899. This style has beautiful proportion, sculpture and painting, and is hollowed to a lightness that could easily serve as a symbol of the Toronto school of decoy making.” - Bernard Crandell

Two serendipitous circumstances set over one hundred years apart allow us to draw some amazing conclusions regarding the use and ownership of this Canadian treasure. The first was the St. Clair Flats Shooting Company's decision to brand the bottom of their decoys and thus designate the ownership of gunning rigs of existing and incoming members. The second was Bernie Gates' decision to publish the list. Gates explains, "Collectors fortunate enough to find these birds are able to accurately date them." The underside of this decoy is branded "C.HG," "F. H. WALKER," and "A H BUHL," for three of its owners whose memberships collectively spanned 1883 to 1933.

The Warins created lightweight, hollow decoys that were perfectly suited to the calm waters of southwestern Ontario. George Warin (1830-1905) and his brother James (1832-1884) first apprenticed to the highly esteemed boat-builder Robert G. Renardson before taking over his business in 1873. As a testament to their craftsmanship, a Warin-built racing scull won the 1881 and 1882 world championships. George Warin used his exceptional boat-building skills to carve decoys which “set a new standard of excellence in the region and were imitated by dozens of later Toronto and southwestern Ontario craftsmen,” according to historian Robert Shaw. Warin was also the first president of the St. Clair Flats Shooting Company and his recommendation positioned carver Thomas Chambers (1860-1948) as the club's keeper.

The featherweight decoy displays the maker's earliest and best form in addition to his accomplished fine blended feathering.
Original paint with even gunning wear, old stabilizing nails to neck and bill cracks, gunning putty to shot scars.

Provenance: Charles H. Gooderham Rig

Franklin H. Walker Rig

Arthur H. Buhl Rig

Herb Wetanson Collection

Literature: Bernard Crandell, "George Warin Revisited," Decoy Magazine, May/June 1997, front cover and p. 9 rigmate illustrated.

Bernie Gates, "Ontario Decoys II," Kingston, ON, 1986, p. 65, related decoy illustrated.

Gene and Linda Kangas, "Decoys: A North American Survey," Spanish Fork, UT, 1983, p. 211, pl. 38, related decoy illustrated.

Copley Fine Art Auctions, "The Donal C. O'Brien Jr. Collection of Important American Sporting Art and Decoys, Sessions I-II," July 27, 2017, p. 56, lot 7, related decoy illustrated.

Robert Shaw, "Bird Decoys of North America," New York, NY, 2010, pp. 232-233.

Loy S. Harrell Jr., "Decoys: North America’s One Hundred Greatest," Iola, WI, 2000, pp. 56-57, related decoy illustrated.


Please email condition report requests to 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.

$ 10000.00 ( Sold Price )



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