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Important Black Duck Decoy, Nathan F. Cobb Jr. (1825-1905)

Important Black Duck Decoy, Nathan F. Cobb Jr. (1825-1905)

Item Description:

Nathan F. Cobb Jr. (1825-1905)
Cobb Island, VA, c. 1875
15 3/4 in. long

In "American Bird Decoys," William J. Mackey Jr. proclaims that "the Cobbs" were determined to produce the best decoys possible, and their work excellently served the needs of both the nineteenth-century hunter and the modern collector.”

This hollow black duck, with an inletted head, is among of the finest Cobb Island black ducks known, hailing from early Washington, D.C. collector William Butler. It was selected by Fleckenstein for his "Southern Decoys of Virginia and the Carolinas" book. In addition to Cobb's standard eye-groove carving and classic tail cut, this model features a bold well-proportioned body and a pronounced breast.

The pride the maker took in creating this particular bird is noted on its underside where it is signed by Nathan Cobb Jr. with a crisp and deeply incised serifed "N." It is rare that decoy carvers are regarded for their signatures; however, in his passionate account of the Cobbs, Mackey notes that "the skill and artistry with which the initials are carved indicate the dedication and talent that Nathan Cobb lavished on his work." Collectors today continue to covet the mark; indeed, the maker's mark on this important decoy is also illustrated in Fleckenstein's quintessential "Southern Decoys" book.

Contributing to this decoy's rarity, in 1893, low-lying Cobb Island was washed over and largely wrecked by the sea, the first of several catastrophic storms.

Original paint with even gunning wear, a dark wash, and a few age lines.

Provenance: William Butler Collection

Private Collection

Literature: Henry A. Fleckenstein Jr., "Southern Decoys of Virginia and the Carolinas," Exton, PA, 1983, p. 197, exact decoy illustrated.

William J. Mackey Jr., "American Bird Decoys," New York, NY, 1965, p. 152.

Dr. Lloyd Newberry, "The Saga of Cobb Island," Sporting Classics, Spring/Summer 2018, pp. 140-145.


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$ 14000.00 ( Sold Price )



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