• <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Announcing the Fall 2016 Auction Season
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 1:</b> Autographs
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 18:</b> Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 10:</b> 19th & 20th Century Literature
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 8:</b> Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Colored Plate Books
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 17:</b> Printed & Manuscript Americana
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 1:</b> Art, Press & Illustrated Books
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 29:</b> Illustration Art
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 3:</b> Old Master Through Modern Prints
  • <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. Sept. 21, 2016</b>
    <b>Bonhams Sept. 21:</b> WARREN, JOSEPH. Letter Signed ("Jos Warren") as Chairman of the Committee of Safety. Cambridge, MA, June 4, 1775.
    <b>Bonhams Sept. 21:</b> WHITMAN, WALT. Leaves of Grass. Brooklyn, NY: [for the Author], 1855.
    <b>Bonhams Sept. 21:</b> JEFFERSON, THOMAS. Printed Broadside Signed ("Th: Jefferson") as Secretary of State. Philadelphia, February 12, 1793.
    <b>Bonhams Sept. 21:</b> CELLINI, BENVENUTO. 1500-1571. Autograph Letter Signed ("Beto. Cellini"). [Florence, c.1566].
    <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. Sept. 21, 2016</b>
    <b>Bonhams Sept. 21:</b> NAPOLEON BONAPARTE. Autograph Manuscript. [c.1795].
    <b>Bonhams Sept. 21:</b> DICKENS, CHARLES. Great Expectations. London: Chapman and Hall, 1861.
    <b>Bonhams Sept. 21:</b> REED, JOHN. To the Honourable House of Representatives of the Freemen of Pennsylvania this Map of the City and Liberties of Phiadelphia With the Catalog of Purchasers is Humbly Dedicated.... [Philadelphia]: engraved by James Smit
    <b>Bonhams Sept. 21:</b> ELIOT, THOMAS STEARNS. The Waste Land. New York: Boni and Liveright, 1922.

Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - February - 2008 Issue

A.E. Crowell Decoys offered by Stephen O'Brien Fine Arts

Obrien

A.E. Crowell carvings from Stephen O'Brien.


By Michael Stillman

Here is a catalogue uncommon for our reviews. It is certainly not of books, and only tangentially might be called “ephemeral." However, one of the favorite subjects for book collectors is sports and sportsmen, and in the days before baseball and football were massively popular, sports hunting was of keen interest, particularly for those of means. This brings us to the latest catalogue of Stephen O'Brien Jr. Fine Arts. It is entitled Select Carvings by A. Elmer Crowell (1862-1952) . Crowell was both a master sportsman and artist, and those who collect in the field of hunting, particularly of waterfowl, will certainly appreciate these fine carvings.

Crowell grew up on a cranberry farm in East Harwich (Cape Cod), Massachusetts. Though not a hunter, his father gave young Crowell a shotgun when he was twelve. Crowell took to hunting like...well...a duck to water. He began devising ways to get waterfowl to stop at the lake near his home on their migrations. Although he carved some decoys early on, Elmer's preferred means was live decoys. He would train tethered ducks and geese to lure wild ones their way. He became something of a legend, and hunters sought his help.

Around 1900, Dr. John C. Phillips, sportsman, author, and Associate Curator of Birds at the zoological library at Harvard, hired Crowell, who would remain in his employ for ten years. Along with building better blinds and training his live decoys, Crowell began carving more. He carved both decoys and simply decorative works. However, this would remain a secondary activity until 1912 when Massachusetts passed a law outlawing the sale of migratory birds. Depletion of these bird species by clever techniques such as those employed by Crowell alarmed conservationists, who won their battle with the hunters in the state legislature. Unable to trade in live decoys any longer, Crowell turned to his carving skills to fashion wooden decoys and decorative carvings. This he would do for most of the remainder of his long life.

It is impossible to describe Crowell's carvings with words, other than to note that his great familiarity with the species he carved enabled him to achieve exceptional reality in his works. He carved and painted with meticulous attention to detail. His works are prized by collectors, the best having reached prices in excess of $1 million. Of course, not all are quite so pricey, but you probably would not want to use one of Crowell's carvings as an active decoy today. However, one would look spectacular on the shelf next to your antiquarian hunting books.

Stephen O'Brien may be reached at 617-536-0536 or visited online at www.americansportingart.com. The gallery is located on Newbury Street in Boston.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>19th Century Shop.</b> (DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION, Chicago, 1968). <i>Collection of papers of John M. Bailey, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, concerning the convention</i>. Various places, 1968.
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> (ARMSTRONG, NEIL.) VERNE, JULES. <i>A Trip to the Moon.</i> New York: F. M. Lupton, September 9, 1893. Signed by Neil Armstrong, first man to walk on the moon.
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> KEY, FRANCIS SCOTT. <i>A Celebrated Patriotic Song, the Star Spangled Banner.</i> 1814.
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> [COLUMBUS, CHRISTOPHER, Amerigo Vespucci ..] Bernardus Albingaunensis .. Dialogo nuperrime edito Genue in 1512.
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> (WATKINS, TABER &c.). <i>An album of 32 photographs of the Yosemite and American West Various places</i>, c. 1890s
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> (BATTLE OF CONCORD.) <i>Powder horn used by Minuteman Oliver Buttrick at the Battle of Concord</i>, April 19, 1775.
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> (CIVIL WAR.) <i>An Extraordinary Confederate Photograph and Autograph Album of Dr. R. L. C. White</i>, 125 original mounted salt prints. 1859-61.
  • <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Leaves from<br>George Washington's Own Draft <br>of His first Inaugural Address. An Extraordinary Rarity!
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Declaration of Independence: Benjamin Tyler 1818 - First Print with Facsimile Signatures.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Thomas Jefferson Signed Act of Contress Authorizing Alexander Hamilton to Complete Famous Portland Maine Lighthouse.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Emanuel Leutze. Silk Flag Banner designed by Leutze, created by Tiffany & Co., and presented to Gen. John A. Dix, 1864.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> The "greatest of early American maps … a masterpiece" (Corcoran). Thomas Holme.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Lincoln Summons His Cabinet for a Historic Meeting to Discuss Compensated Emancipation.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Albert Einstein. Autograph Letter Signed. Einstein Counsels His Son ... Meaning of Life.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Normal Rockwell. Painting/Drawing Signed. Rockwell's "Barbeshop Quartet", 1936.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Frederick Douglass. Autograph Letter Signed to unknown correspondent. Washington, D.C.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Harry Truman. Autograph Manuscript Notebook for Kansas City Law School Night Class.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Robert E. Lee. Autograph Letter Signed, June 11, 1782. Hours after the Battle of Culpeper Court House, Lee Escapes Again.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> George Washington. Letter Signed, as Commander-in-Chief, Continental Army, to Elias Dayton, Headquarters, [Newburgh, N.Y.], June 11, 1782.

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