Copley Fine Art Auctions


PO Box 1707, Duxbury, Massachusetts 2331
617-536-0030

About Auction House

Copley Fine Art Auctions is the world's leading American sporting art auction company. Located in Boston, Copley specializes in antique decoys and 19th- and 20th-century American, sporting, and wildlife paintings. Principal Stephen O'Brien Jr., a fourth-generation sportsman with a refined collector's eye, launched Copley Fine Art Auctions in 2005 after almost fifteen years in the antique trade. A trusted advisor to leading collectors, O'Brien opened Stephen O'Brien Jr. Fine Arts, LLC, in 1996, today considered one of the finest galleries dealing in American sporting art. Cople...Read More
y was a natural evolution for O'Brien and a means of providing yet another arm of services to his clients. Copley has set numerous world-record prices for top sporting artists and decoy makers establishing itself as the go-to company for decoys and sporting art. Copley Auctions is a renowned auction house specializing in fine art and collectibles, offering a curated selection of exquisite pieces to discerning collectors worldwide. With a rich history dating back several decades, Copleys Auction has established itself as a premier destination for art connoisseurs seeking exceptional pieces spanning various genres and periods. At Copley Art Auction, clients can expect an unparalleled auction experience characterized by professionalism, expertise, and integrity. The auctions feature an array of masterpieces from renowned artists, including paintings, sculptures, prints, and decorative arts, carefully curated to cater to diverse tastes and preferences. Dedicated to providing a transparent and seamless process, Copley Auctions offers comprehensive services to both buyers and sellers, ensuring satisfaction and confidence at every step. From expert valuation and authentication to strategic marketing and seamless transactions, the team at Copley auction is committed to exceeding expectations and fostering lasting relationships with clients. Whether seeking to acquire a masterpiece for a private collection or consigning a valuable artwork for auction, Copley Auctions offers a prestigious platform where art enthusiasts can indulge their passion and elevate their collections to new heights. AuctionDaily - your primary source for upcoming auctions and auctioneer news. With a curated list of upcoming auctions spanning various categories, from fine art to jewelry and antiques, AuctionDaily ensures you take advantage of every opportunity to bid on coveted pieces. Stay informed about the latest developments in the auction industry with timely updates on auction house announcements, notable sales results, and expert insights. Whether you're a seasoned collector or a newcomer to the auction scene. Looking for upcoming auction near me this weekend? explore our list of upcoming auctions for more details.Read Less

Auction Previews & News

13 Results
  • Auction Preview
    Copley Fine Art Auctions Offers American Wildlife Paintings, Carved Decoys, Fishing Collectibles, and Other Rarities

    This upcoming two-day sale from Copley Fine Art Auctions will feature a wide variety of fine 19th- and 20th-century American wildlife paintings, etchings, carved decoys, folk art, and more. Leading the first day of the sale is an etching by Carl Rungius titled White Flag. The offered work was executed in 1928 and depicts a woodland stag. It is pencil-signed by Carl Rungius on the lower right. A wildlife artist known for his lifelike paintings, illustrations, and engravings of game animals, Rungius led the way in shaping modern-day animal conservation practices. His paintings depicted animals in their natural environment, a technique that was new to North American art. Another notable fine artwork in the catalog is an acrylic on Masonite painting by Bob Kuhn titled Giraffes. The works of Kuhn are renowned for their vivid portrayals of wildlife and detailed depictions of the surrounding landscape. To create images that engage the senses, the artist experiments with paint, drawing, color, composition, and lighting. Kuhn's depictions remain an important benchmark for wildlife art. The offered work depicts giraffes eating in the wild. Among the top lots on the second day of the sale is a 1938 oil on canvas by Roger Tory Peterson titled Wood Storks. Peterson is best known for developing the modern field guide, regarded as a milestone in the American Conservation Movement, and establishing bird watching as an international hobby. Bidders can also consider a redhead Drake decoy by the Ward Brothers, a 1946 watercolor by Aiden Lassell Ripley titled Grouse and Juniper, and a bronze work by Thomas H. Dickson. Visit Bidsquare to view the complete The Sporting Sale 2024, Day 1 catalog and browse other online auctions. Visit Auction Daily to find auction world news, previews of upcoming sales, and more.

  • Auction Preview
    Copley Fine Art Auctions Presents Two-Day Sale of American Sporting and Wildlife Art, Antique Decoys, Fishing Collectibles, and More

    In its first sale of 2024, Copley Fine Art Auctions will present a wide selection of fine 19th- and 20th-century American paintings, etchings, carvings, folk art, and more. Leading the first day of the auction is a painting by Aiden Lassell Ripley titled Winter Deer Hunting. An avid outdoorsman and conservationist, Ripley tailored his painting style and themes to meet his interests, becoming one of America's leading sporting artists. Due to his use of plein-air painting and drawing in the landscape he adored, Ripley’s work gives a fresh and spontaneous effect. The available watercolor painting depicts a deer hunting scene. The hunter is seen wearing snowshoes as he shoots at a leaping buck in this wintery landscape. Other notable works by the artist in the catalog include a graphite on paper work titled Grouse on Pine Bough and a watercolor painting titled Pheasant Swale (study). The second day of this sale particularly highlights collectibles and sporting art. Among the top lots is a miniature redhead drake by A. Elmer Crowell. A famous decoy maker and bird carver, Elmer Crowell of East Harwich, Massachusetts made some of the finest decoys in history. The available carving bears a rectangular maker’s stamp, along with the bird's species identification and the title "Reddy." Bidders can also consider a rare miniature great horned owl by Wendell Gilley, a 1926 etching by Carl Rungius, and a bronze work by Octavio Gonzalez Gutierrez titled Humpback Whale and Calf. Visit Bidsquare to view the complete The Winter Sale 2024, Day 1 catalog and browse other online auctions.

  • Auction Preview
    Copley Fine Art Auctions Features McCleery Eider Decoy and Alexander Pope Jr. Canvas in Upcoming Two-Day Sporting Sale

    Copley Fine Art Auctions’ upcoming two-day Sporting Sale will offer a McCleery Eider decoy. The appearance of this decoy shows off its smooth-flowing lines and stylized abstract paint. The carved bird has a broad body accentuated with a plumage pattern. Detailed features include a drawn-back head, incised carving around the bill, black patches on the head, and a sharp chine along its crown. Regarding this piece, the auction house states: “The form, paint, and condition of this decoy are peerless. This iconic decoy was first collected by Dr. James M. McCleery, who was among the greatest of decoy connoisseurs from any generation. Since its discovery, it has transfixed collectors and writers.” Also available is an oil on canvas by Alexander Pope Jr. (1849 - 1924), an American sporting artist. Titled Springer with Pheasant, the composition features a proud dog with its colorful quarry. Pope often chose fishing and hunting as subjects for his sculptures and paintings. A self-taught artist, he was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts. He briefly studied sculpture with the renowned artist William Copley. Interested collectors can explore the entire catalog for The Sporting Sale 2023, register to bid online on Bidsquare, and browse other online auctions.

  • Auction Industry, Press Release
    Extremely Rare Decoys by Cobb, Ward Brothers, and McLellan Come to Auction With Copley

    Copley Fine Art Auctions’ upcoming two-day Winter Sale, held from February 24 to February 25, 2023, will feature hundreds of quality carved decoys, sporting art, and other decorative art items. Live bidding on the first day of the sale will begin at 10:00 AM EST. Over 330 lots will be available during the first session. The Harmon Running Cobb Curlew Decoy by Nathan F. Cobb Jr. (1825-1905) Leading the auction catalog is a running curlew decoy crafted by Nathan F. Cobb Jr. (lot #163; estimate: USD 80,000 - $120,000). This rare piece from the 1880s has remained in private hands for decades and was mostly recently in the collection of Ted and Judy Harmon, leading figures in the decoy collecting market. The available curlew features the Cobb family’s distinctive German bead-glass eyes and precise tail cut. It also bears Cobb’s original brown, black, and rust-red paint, which the auction house states is in excellent condition.  Exceptional Swimming Merganser Decoy Another top lot of the sale is a swimming merganser decoy from circa 1890 (lot #181; estimate: $80,000 - $120,000). The piece is an extremely high-quality example of hollow mergansers, although the carver’s identity is unknown. This decoy shares some characteristics with carvings from noted Massachusetts rigs of Capt. Charles C. Osgood and Fred M. Nichols. It includes precise details such as incised mandible carving, a rasp finish along the head ridge to suggest wetness, and a raised wing tip carving. The decoy is offered in its original condition. There are only two other known decoys created in this same style and plumage. Early Humpback Black Duck Decoy by The Ward Brothers Additional decoys in this auction include an early American black duck by brothers Lemuel T. and Stephen W. Ward in 1921 (lot #164; estimate: $70,000 - $90,000). Identified by many historians as among the most influential decoy carvers of all time, the Ward brothers raised the bar for realism and artistic quality. They worked together as artistic partners for over 30 years. Their artistic practice started in response to the Great Depression and blossomed in the ensuing years. The…

  • Auction Preview
    Rare Bird Decoys and Animal Paintings Featured With Copley Fine Art Auctions

    Wooden bird decoys were initially utility items for luring birds while hunting. However, these objects later gained importance as sculptures resembling folk art. The upcoming two-day sale, presented by Copley Fine Art Auctions, presents shorebird decoys from famous carvers. One highlight is a Harmon running curlew by Nathan F. Cobb Jr. The carved bird has a holly wood neck and glass eyes sourced from Germany. The decoy features Cobb’s signature bold color patterns, neck curves, and bill tilt. The curlew is among Cobb’s rare shorebird decoys surviving the island storms. Another notable decoy lot is Charles F. Coffin’s hollow curlew. The circa 1870 decoy depicts Coffin’s signature three-piece construction and stippled paint. Also showcased in the sale is a wildlife painting by Bob Kuhn, titled Rams Along Rock Ridge. The artwork featuring mountain sheep is among Kuhn’s popular subjects. The acrylic painting has a plain chrome background. It portrays three muscular rams set against horizontal color bands. Kuhn’s work is well-known for its intricate details— a result of his extensive study of animals and their habitats. The auction also presents a dog painting by Julie Jeppsen titled Scent on the Side. Jeppsen’s paintings utilize a bold palette and wet-on-wet technique. Other offered collectibles include decoys from the Ward Brothers and artworks by David A. Hagerbaumer and Chet Reneson paintings. Interested collectors can explore the entire catalog, register to bid online on Bidsquare, and browse other online auctions.

  • Auction Preview
    Copley Fine Art Auctions Features Harmon Hollow Nantucket Curlew Decoy in Upcoming Two-Day Sporting Sale

    Inside Copley Fine Art Auctions ‘ Two-Day Sporting Sale, collectors will find a Harmon Hollow Nantucket curlew decoy. The appearance of this featherweight, hollow plover decoy shows off its meticulously carved wings, from a raised shoulder to connected wing tips that lead to a thin, curved tail with V-parted feathering and tiger striping. The craftsman responsible for this artwork and its date of completion are unknown. These detailed features, combined with the curlew’s fine design and execution, have been compared to the works of A. Elmer Crowell (1862 - 1952), Fred Nichols (1854 - 1924), Charles Sumner Bunn (1865 - 1952), and others, although this piece is thought to predate these craftsmen by decades. Regarding this piece and its creator, the auction house states: “This Nantucket carver is among the greatest craftsmen ever to construct a working shorebird decoy,” and that this curlew is “among the greatest shorebird decoys ever to surface.” Also available is a rare curlew decoy by Charles Sumner Bunn (1865 - 1952), a member of New York’s Shinnecock-Montauk Native American tribe and an important figure in duck carving. This exceptional decoy has only recently been discovered. The piece had been passed down through a prominent New York family that had traded a 19th-century city life for one in the Hamptons. With very few decoys of this nature still in existence and even fewer circulating, this decoy is said to be “one of the greatest shorebird decoy discoveries in recent memory.” Visit Bidsquare to view the entire collection and explore other online auctions.

  • Auction Preview
    Pair of Realist Decoys Carved by Charles Wheeler Showcased in Upcoming Copley Sale

    In the upcoming two-day Winter Sale 2022, offered by Copley Fine Art Auctions, a pair of decoys carved by Charles Wheeler will be showcased. A self-taught artist, Wheeler made elaborate decoys and ornamental birds. He spent much of his time studying the ducks’ movements in local ponds. This study aided him to produce realistic sculptural forms of ducks. The set available in this event was presented at the 1948 National Decoy Makers Contest and Exhibition in New York.  Also in the auction is a watercolor painting by Ogden M. Pleissner. His paintings can be identified by intricate details and precise brushstrokes. Native Americans, cowboys, and animals are some of the recurring subjects of his compositions. Titled Grassing the Boat, the available work depicts a hunting scene at Long Point. Other items in the sale include a black and white watercolor work by Frank W. Benson, a pair of decoys by Lloyd Johnson, and more. View any of these lots on Bidsquare, and visit the platform to browse other major online auctions. 

  • Auction Preview
    Copley Fine Art Auctions Offers Watercolor Painting by Ogden Minton Pleissner

    A work from Ogden Minton Pleissner, titled June Trout Fishing, will be available in an upcoming Copley Fine Art Auctions sale. Often regarded as a master of the watercolor medium, Pleissner captured his subjects in intricate detail. Explaining the nature of his expressive works, Ogden Minton Pleissner writes in the lot essay: “A fine painting is not just the subject . . . It is the feeling conveyed of form, bulk, space, dimensionality, and sensitivity. The mood of the picture, that is most important.” Watercolor landscapes depicting scenes of the American West became the trademark of Pleissner’s long and successful career. The offered painting shows a fisherman enjoying the early season. The second day of the Sporting Sale 2021 event also highlights John James Audubon’s seven volumes of The Birds of America (1856). The octavo edition marked the success of Audubon’s hand-colored lithographs. It also includes more species that are organized in a scientific manner. View the full auction listings and register to bid on Bidsquare.

  • Auction Preview
    Over-the-Shoulder Plover and More from Copley Fine Art Auctions

    One of the decoys featured on the cover of the book New England Decoys by John and Shirley Delph is a plover in an unusual pose. The bird’s head is twisted, as if it is looking to the rear. Carver A. Elmer Crowell made the piece. The design is considered unique, though reminiscent of his well-known duck and goose decoys. The exact decoy used for the book cover will be available on the first day of The Sporting Sale 2021, offered by Copley Fine Art Auctions. Other carvings in the sale include a long-tailed drake decoy by Orlando “Os” Bibber, a ruffed grouse sculpture by Lemuel T. Ward, a pair of canvasbacks by Lemuel T. Ward and Stephen Ward, and more.  Beyond decoys, there are several paintings, including The Quiet Peace of an African Evening by British artist David Shepherd. It depicts a herd of elephants enjoying a dirt bath. The artist dedicated his work to conservation and launched the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation. Other lots in the sale include a Delph Perdew crow call, several early black and white photographs by Frank W. Benson, and a handful of miniature bird carvings by Wendell Gilley. View any of these lots and register to bid on Bidsquare.

  • Auction Preview
    Dudley, Cobb, and Other American Bird Decoys in Copley’s Winter Sale

    Made to distract, decoy ducks are placed in hunting areas to attract real birds. Carved wooden decoys are more difficult to find as plastic versions have become more popular. The upcoming Winter Sale 2021, presented by Copley, will offer a selection of carved Dudley decoys. Dudley decoys have compact bodies with sculpted lines that flow from beak to tail. The decoys were made by twin brothers Lee and Lem Dudley. These carved decoys also feature in books like Joel Barber’s Wild Fowl Decoys and William J. Mackey’s American Bird Decoys.  Another featured lot is a painting by Frank Benson. From his youth, the artist aspired to be an ornithological illustrator. Upon returning from Paris to his home in Massachusetts, he began painting portraits and birds. The available Redheads in Flight shows a flock of birds flying in formation over a marsh. Other notable lots include fine art by Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait, Edmund H. Osthaus, and Ogden M. Pleissner. Visit Bidsquare for the full listings and to place a bid.

  • Auction Preview
    Several Works from A. Elmer Crowell Lead Copley’s Upcoming Auction

    A. Elmer Crowell’s decoy depicting a preening curlew is one of the highlighted lots in the upcoming Winter Sale 2021, presented by Copley Fine Art Auctions. The 1941 sculpture depicts a curlew bird with its head arched back to groom its feathers. A 20th-century decoy carver, A. Elmer Crowell was known for his American wildfowl sculptures. Crowell spent his early years observing and hunting Cape Cod’s birds, which helped him gain an understanding of avian anatomy. Later, this learning would allow him to incorporate life-like details in his work. The sale also features John Charles Terelak’s Dory Fisherman Off the Grand Banks. Many of Terelak’s works experiment with new techniques, distinct compositions, and color combinations. “Every painting takes a life of its own as it develops and evolves, taking the artist along for the ride,” he once said. The available piece shows three long-line dories returning to a fishing schooner to unload their catches. Paintings, sculptures, firearms, and sporting decoys are available in the auction catalog. Register to bid for any of these lots by visiting Bidsquare.

  • Auction Result
    A Record-Setting $108,000 Charles Coffin Nantucket Curlew Tops Copley Sale of Decoys and Sporting Art

    Copley's first live-streamed auction was a success. The sale, consisting of 296 lots, was 94% sold by lot and realized $957,000. The auction achieved several world record prices, thanks in part to the more than 150 new bidders registered to participate in the scaled-down one-day sale. A new record was set for Charles Coffin when the O'Brien-Nelson Hollow Nantucket Curlew sold for $108,000, making it the top lot of the sale. The top painting lot was a quail hunting watercolor by Ogden M. Pleissner, which landed at $37,200. Thomas Aquinas Daly's Electric Mountain blew past its high estimate to hammer at $16,800, setting a new world record for the artist. For more details of this sale, click on the link below to access the prices realized. A new record was set for Charles Coffin when the O'Brien-Nelson Hollow Nantucket Curlew sold for $108,000, making it the top lot of the sale.Copley Fine Art Auctions The results of this auction, along with the $3.46 million Winter Sale 2020, $1.7 million in private sales, and a $270,000 hybrid single-lot private auction, have pushed Copley's 2020 sales well over the $6 million mark just one month into the third quarter. Owner and principal Stephen B. O'Brien Jr. reports, "We created Copley Live five years ago as the decoy industry's only app. To see exponential growth in the number of bidders using it is highly rewarding. With the industry moving in this direction, we are able to seamlessly continue handling top collections and estates in the customized fashion that our clients have come to expect." A small number of items will be available for post-auction sale until next Monday, August 3rd. View the available lots. To purchase an item, please contact the Copley specialists at 617.536.0030 or by email at [email protected].

  • Auction Preview
    The Sporting Sale 2020

    Donal C. O’Brien, Jr., the former chairman of the National Audubon Society, had a special passion for hunting and fishing. Because of this love, he acquired an enormous collection of duck decoys, including those by Charles F. Coffin. Works from Coffin and Franklin Folger, Jr. are among the most notable Nantucket decoys on the market. In Copley Fine Art Auction’s upcoming event is an 1870 three-piece curlew decoy with stippled paint by Coffin. This hollowed decoy is paper-thin, and the body of the bird resembles the island of Nantucket.  Ogden M. Pleissner was an American artist known for his landscapes and paintings of hunters with their game. In this auction is his 1940 watercolor inscribed to W. Howard Cox, who was the head of Union Central Life Insurance Company, an economic advisor to seven presidents, and a sportsman. This piece, titled Quail Hunting, shows two men with their dogs hunting in a field. The inscription reads “To W. Howard Cox, With best wishes” in the lower right corner. View the entire catalog and register to bid for these items by visiting Bidsquare. 

  • Auction Industry
    Copley’s $3.4 Million Winter Sale Is One For The Record Books

    CHARLESTON, SC - Copley Fine Art Auctions, LLC, the nation’s premier decoy and sporting art auction house set a company record for one of their Winter Sales realizing $3.4 million in total sales. The February 15th auction was held in conjunction with the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition (SEWE) at the Charleston Marriott in South Carolina. There was a frenzy of over 900 bidders participating from all platforms and across all categories, including antique and contemporary decoys, paintings, prints, folk art, canes, and Americana. The auction, consisting of 533 lots, was 96% sold, extending Copley’s unrivaled track record in the industry. The auction hall was filled with energy and plenty of foot traffic throughout the sale. At the auction’s start, every seat was filled and bidders were standing against the walls as established collectors, dealers, and institutions bid against new buyers in town for SEWE and the Dr. Muller Collection. The Winter Sale 2020 had nine lots reach six figures and fifty-seven items sell for five-figure prices. Robert Shaw, past curator of the Shelburne Museum and author of the definitive ​Bird Decoys of North America,​ described Dr. Muller as “a collector's collector, one of the great connoisseurs of the art of the decoy...Peter's quest set a new standard for decoy research and curation that should provide a model for all future publications and collections.” Bidders raised their paddles in agreement; Session I of The Dr. Peter J. Muller Jr. Collection of American Bird Decoys was 100% sold, making it one of the only “white glove” sales in the field of decoy collecting. The session achieved an unprecedented average price per lot of over $35,800 and accounted for six of the sale’s top ten decoy lots. This historic session was published in Copley’s fourth dedicated hardbound catalog which included a 24-page biography on the legendary collector. Copley’s owner and principal Stephen B. O’Brien Jr. reports, “​I am thrilled for the Mullers, our consignors, our buyers, and the entire Copley team, having just launched the most successful auction of its kind, ever in the South. The bidding on all platforms was on fire—the live audience was energized,…

  • Press Release
    Copley’s $3.4 Million Winter Sale Is One For The Record Books

    CHARLESTON, SC - Copley Fine Art Auctions, LLC, the nation’s premier decoy and sporting art auction house set a company record for one of their Winter Sales realizing $3.4 million in total sales. The February 15th auction was held in conjunction with the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition (SEWE) at the Charleston Marriott in South Carolina. There was a frenzy of over 900 bidders participating from all platforms and across all categories, including antique and contemporary decoys, paintings, prints, folk art, canes, and Americana. The auction, consisting of 533 lots, was 96% sold, extending Copley’s unrivaled track record in the industry. The auction hall was filled with energy and plenty of foot traffic throughout the sale. At the auction’s start, every seat was filled and bidders were standing against the walls as established collectors, dealers, and institutions bid against new buyers in town for SEWE and the Dr. Muller Collection. The Winter Sale 2020 had nine lots reach six figures and fifty-seven items sell for five-figure prices. Robert Shaw, past curator of the Shelburne Museum and author of the definitive ​Bird Decoys of North America,​ described Dr. Muller as “a collector's collector, one of the great connoisseurs of the art of the decoy...Peter's quest set a new standard for decoy research and curation that should provide a model for all future publications and collections.” Bidders raised their paddles in agreement; Session I of The Dr. Peter J. Muller Jr. Collection of American Bird Decoys was 100% sold, making it one of the only “white glove” sales in the field of decoy collecting. The session achieved an unprecedented average price per lot of over $35,800 and accounted for six of the sale’s top ten decoy lots. This historic session was published in Copley’s fourth dedicated hardbound catalog which included a 24-page biography on the legendary collector. Copley’s owner and principal Stephen B. O’Brien Jr. reports, “​I am thrilled for the Mullers, our consignors, our buyers, and the entire Copley team, having just launched the most successful auction of its kind, ever in the South. The bidding on all platforms was on fire—the live audience was energized,…