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Another 'unicorn' shows up.....

Discussion in 'Scale and Miniature Canoe Models' started by Roger Young, Jul 28, 2017.

  1. Roger Young

    Roger Young display sample collector

    As many who love 'sample' canoe models will already know and appreciate, not many were ever made, and even fewer show up. Old Town Canoe Co. probably made the most, and even those likely number not much more than 125, or so. Kennebec recorded 60 samples having been made. Perhaps there were a couple dozen Carletons. Four early samples by E M White are known. When it comes to Canadian factories, even fewer samples have ever surfaced - 5 known Chestnuts; 3 by Rice Lake (Herald); a couple of Peterboroughs; two known Ontario Canoe Co. samples; 3 small samples by John S Stephenson.

    Rumor has it that sample models by other makers are 'out there', even if unseen or not currently identified. A few years ago, somewhat out of frustration, I began calling them 'unicorns', as I searched without success to see, or find, just one. Some years back, a John Henry Rushton skiff turned up, the only known example of its kind by that renown maker. Maybe unicorn canoe samples did exist after all. Still, there has been no sign, of which I am aware, of any early, antique sample by Gerrish, Morris, Robertson, etc..... Until now. Another 'unicorn' has been found.

    I am delighted to share with you some photos of the only currently known (to me, anyway) J R Robertson 'display sample'. It is completely original and untouched, except by time. It is a little bit dusty, but requires only a light cleaning. The patina is wonderful, and it is accompanied by 4 'sample' paddles along with a copy of an early catalog in which the paddles are illustrated and a full-size canoe is shown which this sample resembles. This piece lived for many years on Cape Cod, before moving west. It has been lovingly cared for; it recently found a new home and will shortly be displayed at the Canadian Canoe Museum for all to enjoy.

    For those who appreciate the finer details, it is 76" long by 14-1/2" beam and about 8" in depth amidships. It is verified as to its maker, whose name is stamped into its thwarts at each end. I would place its date likely in the early years of the 1900's. The catalog accompanying it states that Robertson had been making canvas canoes for just over 20 years, beginning in 1881. So, perhaps sometime from about 1903 onward??? Maybe a bit later.

    Your comments are welcome. If anyone has additional information they wish to share about the existence of Robertson (or other maker) samples, please feel free to input.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jul 28, 2017
    Benson Gray likes this.
  2. OP
    Roger Young

    Roger Young display sample collector

    more photos of the J R Robertson newly discovered 'display sample'

    Attached Files:

  3. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    Nice find, Roger!
  4. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    Gorgeous! It's a beauty
  5. OP
    Roger Young

    Roger Young display sample collector

    In truth, Paul, I didn't so much 'find' this wonderful piece as it 'found' me. The real credit here belongs to those who took the time and made the effort to care for the (not so) little sample over the years and keep it in good condition. I'm just fortunate to have been able to collect it, and to now make it available for public viewing. It has been exciting to meet a lot of very interesting and wonderful folks along the collecting trail I have travelled these last few years. Those people have filled my life with great stories and experiences; I'm just delighted to have become part of the 'custodial chain' for a while.

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