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Nathan Cobb Jr Canada Goose Decoy


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Hollow-carved Canada Goose decoy by Nathan Cobb Jr, with applied neck and head circa 1880-1895. This decoy features a 33” L x 7 ½” W two-piece hand-scooped and drilled hollow body, constructed with both cut nails (square nails) and wire nails, a one-piece root (limb) head, German glass eyes, tacked leather rigging, and a lead weight affixed with screws. The decoy was carved in the form of an aggressive hissing/swimming Canada goose (a rare and desirable pose.)See additional information. 34 1/2"L

The neck appears to have been carved from a single branch of either southern wax myrtle or holly root. The body features prominent shoulders, along with a distinct ridge down the back, and a notched V-shaped tail. It was common for Nathan Cobb Jr. to use wood from salvaged shipwrecks in the construction of his decoy bodies. The nails have been countersunk into the body with putty applied over the top. The cracks and imperfections were sealed with lead caulk prior to painting. An x-ray of the decoy shows that the applied head is affixed to the body using 4 cut nails while the body was secured together using around 15 wire nails. The neck features an additional cut nail at Its crook. This was implemented to either strengthen an existing crack at the time of construction, or to repair a break that had formed through rigorous use. An incised serifed “N” measuring 1 ¼” tall x 1 ½” wide can be found the bottom of the decoy body. The serifed “N” was the maker’s mark of Nathan Cobb Jr. While the x-ray is telling of the methods of construction, it also indicates the decoy has remained in Its original structural condition, unchanged since the day Nathan Jr. made it. The only addition to the piece is remnants of lead shot acquired during the period of use. The decoy has acquired unique wear to Its exterior reminiscent of having been forgotten in the water or possibly swept away in a storm. The paint, while original, is sun bleached and has sloughed off in areas due to being saturated and exposed to water for an extended period. Two cracks have formed along the front of the body near the base of the neck. Minor chipping to the neck seam is present. “One night in 1893 Cobb Island was literally wiped from the face of the earth when a tidal wave swept over it. Next morning not a building remained. The inhabitants who survived moved to the mainland. The ˜good old days™ were gone forever. But decoys were made to float, and most of those that still survived were picked up adrift after the storm and used again, their fame increasing through the years that followed.” William J. Mackey Jr., "American Bird Decoys" This decoy is one of the finest examples of a Canada goose decoy made by the hands of Nathan Cobb Jr. The aggressive swimming/hissing pose is both unique and rare making it a highly desirable piece. Of the 200-250 known Cobb family decoys collected to date, less than 200 were carved by Nathan Cobb Jr. Of those, only 15 or 16 known examples of Canada Goose decoys are in the hands of collectors. This previously undiscovered decoy was found among a collection of miscellaneous vintage and antique decoys. Upon discovery, x-rays were performed. The construction methods, materials, and incised “N” maker’s mark are consistent with that of Nathan Cobb Jr. and have been determined to be authentic. The inclusion of cut nails (square nails) and wire nails indicates this decoy was produced between 1880 and 1895.

PERIOD: Late 19th Century

ORIGIN: Virginia, United States

SIZE: 34 1/2"

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