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The McCleery-Hudson Bufflehead Hen Decoy, Ira D. Hudson (1873-1949)

The McCleery-Hudson Bufflehead Hen Decoy, Ira D. Hudson (1873-1949)

Item Description:

Ira D. Hudson (1873-1949)
Chincoteague, VA, c. 1935
12 1/4 in. long

Ira Hudson was a true Delmarva resident: born in Maryland, raised in Delaware, and settled on Chincoteague, Virginia. A multi-talented craftsman, Hudson designed and built his own home on the legendary island known for its rich decoy-carving heritage. He also designed and built boats, including many scows used for hunting and oyster farming. In 1897, at age twenty-six, Hudson added decoy carving to the several other occupations he would pursue over the years; the 1900 and 1910 census records list Hudson as a “waterman” and “oysterman.” He is now remembered as one of the South’s greatest decoy makers.

This gem is held in the highest regard among both collectors of Southern decoys and the rare bufflehead. "The most noted Hudson bufflehead decoy," writes Henry Stansbury of this exact decoy, "a football body-shaped hen with a slightly swimming attitude and a fluted paddle tail, ex-collection of Dr. James M. McCleery, is arguably the finest example." In his Hudson monograph, Stansbury goes on to laud it as "one of Hudson's finest efforts."

This species, often referred to as the "butter-ball," is likely not named for its flavor, as it is generally regarded as poor table fare, lending to the rarity of the species' decoys. Furthermore, drakes greatly outnumber hens, adding to the rarity of this decoy. A related drake with similar distinctly refined features can been seen in Milton Weiler's "Classic Decoys" series of paintings.

Excellent original paint with even gunning wear and a few faint age lines.

Provenance: Dr. James M. McCleery Collection

Private Collection, Connecticut, acquired at the McCleery Sale

Literature: Henry H. Stansbury, "Ira D. Hudson and Family," Lewes, DE, 2002, p. 81, exact decoy illustrated.

Henry A. Fleckenstein Jr., "Southern Decoys of Virginia and the Carolinas," Exton, PA, 1983, p. 39, pl. XV, exact decoy illustrated.

Sotheby's and Guyette and Schmidt, "American Waterfowl Decoys: The Distinguished Collection of Dr. James M. McCleery," New York, NY, 2000, p. 83, lot 175, exact decoy illustrated.

Milton C. Weiler, "The Classic Decoy Series: A Portfolio of Paintings," New York, NY, 1969, pl. 13, related drake illustrated.
Linda and Gene Kangas, "Decoys," Paducah, KY, 1992, p. 134, pl. 211, exact bird 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.

$ 26000.00 ( Sold Price )



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