This handsome pair of ring-necked pheasants was hand carved and hand painted by Olivet, South Dakota artist Ferdinand Christian Kratz. Born in 1873 in Germany, Mr. Kratz was a taxidermist, an artist in wood carving and also in scientific drawings, particularly archaeological ones. He collected 1105 items over 50 years, many of which he collected from Indian mounds near Olivet. He operated his own private museum for many years in a storefront in Olivet and ultimately donated his collection to the University of South Dakota museum in 1944, five years before his death in 1949.
Calling on his lifelong experience with nature, game birds in particular, Mr. Kratz carved this cock and hen and hand painted them in finely detailed, realistic colors and plumage. He mounted each of them on a rectangular wooden base, painted dark green and stippled with natural flora. Each base is personally hand signed in black "F.C. Kratz, 1942" along one edge. The male is 9 1/2 inches in length and about 4 inches tall, while the female is 8 inches long and 5 1/4 inches tall (both height measurements are to the top of their heads). Each weighs 2 to 3 ounces and both are in excellent condition, with no breaks, cracks or missing pieces. The tip of the female's beak is somewhat rough to the touch and missing some paint, which may have simply flaked off over the last 76 years, and the tips of the male's head feathers are worn a bit, but otherwise the paint is intact and fresh looking. Appropriately, the ring-necked pheasant is the state bird of South Dakota.
This pair of pheasants is a wonderful example of hand carved art and a great find for the bird lover.