Help support the WCHA Forums by making a tax-deductible donation!

Miniature Chestnut Paddle

Discussion in 'Paddles and Paddle Making' started by JPembleton, Mar 14, 2014.

  1. JPembleton

    JPembleton Chest Nut

    Came across this Mini Chestnut Paddle in my travels today. Not sure if it was a salesman's sample or just made for marketing their product.

    Same person also had a small model (form?) from the Chestnut factory, among other things. A family member was a long time Chestnut employee. None of this stuff was for sale but they did have a canoe I was considering.




    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Mar 14, 2014
  2. 1905Gerrish

    1905Gerrish LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Interesting form. It would be nice if it was to fall into the right hands! Chestnut models would be mighty perty!
  3. chris pearson

    chris pearson Michigan Canoe Nut

    Cool form.
  4. Roger Young

    Roger Young display sample collector

    Great find. Here's what I can tell you about small, or sample, Chestnut paddles. This is based on about 25 years of looking and collecting experience.

    They are a fairly scarce item, much more rarely seen or found than either Peterborough Canoe Co. samples, or Canadian Canoe Co. samples. I have come across about ten Peterborough samples for every one Canadian Canoe Co. sample, and about five of the latter for every Chestnut sample. So, maybe 50 times more scarce than a PCC sample, and five times as scarce as a Can. CC sample. Both PCC and Canadian Canoe made small paddles in 12" and 18" lengths. As far as I know, Chestnut samples have only ever turned up in a 12" length. I'll wager that's the length of the one in your photo. If not, please advise, as you will certainly have something I've never seen, or even heard of.

    These miniature paddles are often called "salesman's samples", but they were mostly advertising pieces handed out at trade shows or given in bulk to major retailers, who often added their own advertising decals. PCC made them by the hundreds, if not thousands, and handed them out at plant tours or gave them to service clubs to be used as event prizes and fundraising. They have always been popular with kids, and many found their way to summer cottages where they decorated walls, etc. In the 1920's, all three companies came under the same corporate umbrella, though operated separately, so it is not unusual that they would have adopted similar advertising programs. Paddles by the three companies bear strong similarities in shape, though often not totally identical. As I say, I am not aware of an 18" sample made by Chestnut.

    There is one distinguishing feature of very early Chestnut sample paddles, particularly those made just after the fire (1920), according to legend. Those paddles were allegedly hand-whittled, rather than machine produced, As a result, they are slightly shorter, somewhat thinner and have a shaft with little or no hand grip. These paddles run a bit over 11" in length, and have an early Chestnut decal. See the comparison photo below. The one you have found is much closer in dimension and shape to the typical 12" paddle made at Peterborough and Canadian canoe companies. This is the shape/style typical of the later Chestnut sample paddles. Like PCC and Can. CC, these are machine made and finished.

    As far as values go, a nice 12" or 18" PCC sample paddle with decal in very good condition can run from $75 to $125, possibly more if it has a 60th or 75th Anniversary decal as well. A Canadian Canoe Co. sample paddle will likely run twice that. A Chestnut sample paddle usually sells in the $300 - $400 range.

    As for "display sample" canoe models made by Chestnut, I am so far aware of only two in existence, though there could be others. Both of these are 7' 1" in length, and appear to be half-size versions of the full-size, 14' 2" "Peach" made at Chestnut. Both of the Chestnut models known are believed to be from the 1910-20 era. A photo of a yellow sample is attached below; the other known model is dark green. Both are believed to be in original paint. Value wise, well into the 5-figure range.

    I would be most pleased if you could let me know the dimensions of the Chestnut form in your photo. It might help to ascertain whether the two known sample canoe models could have been built on that form. Even if of different size, it is helpful in suggesting that there could be others out there, and what we should be looking for if something turns up. The Canadian Canoe Museum might well be interested in having the form, as would many collectors, myself included, should it ever become available.

    Thanks for posting your 'discovery'. Let me know if you need any further information.


    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Mar 18, 2014
  5. 1905Gerrish

    1905Gerrish LOVES Wooden Canoes


    Great bit of info there. JP with a little bit of homework maybe either of the two fine young gentlemen who replied above could get a better look at that form and possible end up with it. Both are stand up guys and would put it to good use. It would be great for some new chestnut models to be made on that form with a list of folks looking to add a model to their collection including myself. Its a shame for it to be burried in a corner of a barn when such a relic exists.
  6. Roger Young

    Roger Young display sample collector

    Having written what I did, above, I later went back to take a closer look at the Pembleton photos. It occurs to me, after some reflection, that the sample paddle is likely longer than 12". The blade is also wider and more of a tear-drop shape than the typical Chestnut beaver tail. In fact, to my eye, it more closely resembles in shape an Old Town sample paddle; those are usually around 19" in length. There is a 'squarish' outline or shape to the edges of the decal; Chestnut decals I have seen usually have a slight margin which closely follows the outline of the design itself (i.e., not printed on a larger square). So, I'm wondering whether a Chestnut decal, or copy, has 'migrated' to an Old Town sample paddle? The two companies were not too far distant.

    It would also appear that the form is much shorter than 7', which is the length of the two known, ribbed, cedar/canvas Chestnut models. However, it could be closer to the form on which at least two, and possibly three, or more, Peterborough display sample canoes were built. There are two known 36" wide board and batten samples, likely pre-1900, in private hands (see photo below including an early 18" PCC sample paddle), and a 36" cedar strip sample with narrow, half-round ribs, in the Peterborough Centennial Museum. Not sure whether there is any info on the whereabouts of that PCC building form. Things did get shuffled around between the three operating arms of Canadian Watercraft. Did Chestnut have a similar small form? Could the PCC form have been sent east? Were smaller models similar to the early Peterborough pieces made in Fredericton? All puzzling questions at this juncture. For that matter, has anyone, anywhere, ever come across a display sample by Canadian Canoe Co? I have not, although I have asked and searched numerous times.

    Just a few additional thoughts ..... Anybody else want to chime in???

    Attached Files:

  7. OP

    JPembleton Chest Nut

    The son of the owner of the paddle said the father made the paddle himself at the Chestnut Factory as part of his regular position, along with snowshoes and other products. He did not make the form but aquired it as anyone else did with old stuff from a closing factory.

    Size of the paddle, don't know? but it's sitting on top of a 20 lbs propane tank for reference.

    The form is also small, best guess, 30 - 36 in. It is also sitting on what I assume was an older model sander. Size of the sander shouldn't be to hard to determine.

Share This Page