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Dating Peterborough Canoe Co. decals

Discussion in 'Research and History' started by Roger Young, Nov 3, 2013.

  1. Roger Young

    Roger Young display sample collector

    Over the years, from 1892 to the 1960's, the Peterborough Canoe Co. decal has undergone a number of iterations and variations - some slight, some more extensive. If we can get them into some semblance of correct sequence, perhaps it could help to suggest an approximate date of manufacture for items to which they were attached (assuming no replacement). This is always a challenging puzzle. I have managed to collect a series of different images which I have placed in sequence according to my best rationale. Your input is most welcome as I could be wrong in my surmise. For what it's worth, here is my take on PCC decal development over the years:

    To begin with, it seems the Peterborough logo was actually a carry-over from its predecessor, the Ontario Canoe Co. (see photo 1). The basic design of a red oval surrounded by a golden clansman's belt is quite evident. OCC operated from 1883 to 1892, although its origins trace to 1879, when Col. Rogers bought the canoe patents of John Stephenson. The words in the oval state "Peterborough Canada". That decal appears on the bow deck of a 52" OCC display sample of wide board and batten construction.

    Next, I believe, comes photo 2, the earliest Peterborough decal of which I am aware. Notice how it mimics the OCC decal; this one has the words "Peterborough, Ontario" inside the red oval. Ontario province officially gained that name around the time that PCC commenced operations; Ontario was previously called "Canada West" or "Upper Canada". This decal appears on the decks of a 36" PCC wide board and batten display model made c. 1900, possibly earlier. I'm thinking this version could have been used anywhere from 1892 to the very early 1900's.

    Photo 3 shows what I believe to be the next iteration. It appears on a very early pair of PCC rowing oars. The wording inside the oval has now changed to state "The Peterborough Canoe". However, no reference is made to "Trade Mark", which registration, I believe, occurred in 1911. So, likely date of use for this version - early 1900's, but before 1911.

    Photo 4 brings us to the first of the more commonly seen PCC decals. Note that the oval now also contains the words "Registered Trade Mark". "Registered" is spelled in full. I suggest possible predominant dates of use anytime after 1911 up until the late 1920's or possibly early 1930's.

    Photo 5 shows a decal which is much the same, but the word "Registered" has now been abbreviated to "Reg'd". Upon very close inspection, it appears that other slight changes have been made in the positioning of the words in the oval, and modifications (very slight) to the design work of the belt. (You'll probably need a magnifying glass and good light). This version has been seen on 12" and 18" sample paddles in conjunction with a 60th Anniversary decal (1939), thus the reason for sequencing it here. It would seem to have been used in the 1930's, '40's and early '50's.

    Photo 6 shows the decal with the word "Peterborough" in 'pinched' or squeezed block letters in the red oval. Note that the words "Registered (in full) Trade Mark" now appear above the Peterborough name, and that the word "Watercraft" has been added below, all within the red oval. This decal is seen on a 12" sample paddle in conjunction with a 75th Anniversary decal, 1954. Most likely to be found on items from the 1950's/'60's.

    Dick Persson tells me that the word "Peterborough" in 'pinched' block letters does appear on some PCC paperwork as early as the 1920's, but I have never seen it on a decal that I could date that early. Also, I have seen decals shown in photo 4 used on 75th (1954) Anniv. paddles. It could have been that the 75th Anniv. decal was simply applied to an older sample still in stock, or perhaps a supply of early decals was simply being used up. All of which is to say that there are no hard and fast rules; the above comments should be taken as 'suggestive' of possible dates.

    If you have any thoughts, corrections, etc., to add, please feel welcome to do so.

    Cheers,
    Roger
     

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    Last edited: Nov 3, 2013
  2. Graham

    Graham Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Good work Roger, nice to see the information gathered together. I'd wondered about my Mermaid that was supposedly bought in 53, but has an upper case Peterborough Watercraft decal (without any anniversary information). The catalogues don't show that decal appearing until '54, and both '54 and '55 having 75th and 76th anniversary sub-decals. Likely there was some overlap in the transitions.
    Thanks for putting this together!
     

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  3. davelanthier

    davelanthier Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    A 100 year ol Peterborough ?

    Have a 16' Peterborough 604 with curved decks which I believe to be 100 years old. Your decal information confirms. Of note too is that this canoe has bow and stern deck decals. Hope to restore it this winter but can't decide whether to strip the interior or leave the original patina as is. What are your thoughts?
     

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    Last edited: Nov 5, 2013
  4. OP
    OP
    Roger Young

    Roger Young display sample collector

    Roger MacGregor has kindly written me to elaborate on the timing of the registration process that Peterborough Canoe Co. went through in order to acquire its trade mark designation. It seems that PCC was in discussions with the government of the day as early as June 1908, seeking to register a trade mark. The actual subject of its application were the words "The Peterborough Canoe". This is what the company sought to protect and secure unto itself, to the exclusion of others. Government officials at first demurred, stating that, as "Peterborough" was a geographic name, its usage could not be appropriated to one entity alone. It later relented, allowing that such protected right might be possible if there was sufficient evidence of previous trade usage established to make a case. That evidence turned upon the city name being connected to manufacture and sales of "The XXXXX Canoe", in such a way as to suggest that there was only one such canoe maker. The registration was eventually granted in August 1911.

    All of which explains the introduction of the words "The Peterborough Canoe" inside the red oval of its logo design, probably in the very early years of the 1900's. A previous version likely said "Peterborough Ontario", much as its forerunner at Ontario Canoe Co. said "Peterborough Canada". Thus, a decal now saying "The Peterborough Canoe" without any reference to "Registered Trade Mark" should be regarded as very early, perhaps from about 1900 onward, and certainly prior to 1911. If reference to "Trade Mark" is noted, regard the decal as being sometime after 1911, but also subject to what is said above about use of the word "Registered" or "Reg'd", the latter probably placing its timing to the 1930's and later. Also allow for the fact that time overlap would occur in the transition period as old supplies of decals were used up and new ones were being introduced. Decal dating is not an exact process; more one of suggestion and a best guess.

    Dave, as to refurbishing the interior, that's your call.... some will agree; others will not. Maybe readers here will persuade you as to direction.
     
  5. OP
    OP
    Roger Young

    Roger Young display sample collector

    Further confirming the position of the decal shown in photo 3, above, of my first post as being very early (though probably not the first) in the sequence of PCC decal evolution, Roger MacGregor has kindly forwarded further information from his research files that show this same decal was registered as a trade mark in France in April 1914 (see thumbnail below). Note that the words "Registered Trade Mark" appear in this version printed outside the red oval and just below the clasp on the belt surround. Interestingly, one year later (6 April 1915), the same mark was registered in the US, but without the words "Registered Trade Mark". My sincere thanks to Roger M. for the supply of this background info.
     

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  6. Graham

    Graham Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    1911 sounds reasonable for the registered decal, as it's mentioned in Peterborough advertising in March of 1912.
     

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  7. OP
    OP
    Roger Young

    Roger Young display sample collector

    Graham:
    This may well be one of the first Peterborough advertisements to follow actual registration of the PCC trade mark. TM registration was officially granted in August of 1911. A short time likely followed for notice to be received. Then, some further time before advertising could be arranged, and publication of any print media. It is also interesting to note that the form of decal depicted in this 1912 advertisement does not include reference to the "Registered Trade Mark" within the actual decal itself, as shown, but only underneath it. This suggests that PCC decals not containing any reference to TM registration were still being used in early 1912. In any event, the fact is that a decal containing the words "Registered" or "Reg'd" Trade Mark cannot possibly date any earlier than August 1911, simply because the granting of TM did not take place until such time.
     
  8. Graham

    Graham Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Even later (1918), the registered part didn't seem to show on the decal. They were clearly protective of the trademark though.
     

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    Last edited: Mar 9, 2014
  9. OP
    OP
    Roger Young

    Roger Young display sample collector

    The more of these we find without the inclusion of a reference to "registration" within the decal itself, and the later the actual date of the print media advertising, the more it suggests that PCC decals with the words "Registered" or "Reg'd" likely didn't come into use until around the 1920's, which coincides with my original 'gut feeling' simply based on what I had observed on various pieces over the years. On the other hand, it enlarges the period during which the early decals were used, suggesting that items on which they are found could date from the teens just as easily as pre-teens. I still believe, though, that the version which says only "Peterborough Ontario" is the earliest one, likely from the 1890's, based upon its close similarity to the Ontario Canoe Co. decal which preceded it. Thanks for passing along these finds.
     
  10. Graham

    Graham Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Your gut feeling was probably right on, as they ran these ads right through the following 1919 season.
     

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    Last edited: Mar 9, 2014
  11. OP
    OP
    Roger Young

    Roger Young display sample collector

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