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Oldest image of an Old Town model

Discussion in 'Scale and Miniature Canoe Models' started by Benson Gray, Dec 10, 2011.

  1. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    I think that the image attached below may be the oldest one of an Old Town model canoe. This is in a Scrantom, Wetmore, & Co. catalog for Old Town Canoes that has no date. However, the photographs on the cover and of the sponson canoes inside are identical to the ones from the 1904 Old Town catalog so it seems likely that both were printed around the same time. The text on the side is identical to many later models and there are many other elements that look much more like a model than a full sized canoe. Scans showing the rest of this catalog are available along with the 1904 Old Town catalog on the CD. What do you think?


    Attached Files:

  2. chris pearson

    chris pearson Michigan Canoe Nut

    I dont know, looks old, very, very cool!!!!!!!!
  3. Kathryn Klos

    Kathryn Klos squirrel whisperer

    Have you ever seen a seat like that on an Old Town (or remnants or other indications of such a seat)?
  4. Roger Young

    Roger Young display sample collector

    Very interesting photo and thought. Indeed, the trade name lettering along the side looks just as it appears on a number of early models that I have seen. However, it would not at all surprise me to see the same thing on a full-size OT used for 'sign canoe' or 'display' purposes, particularly when I recall finding build cards dated from 1912 or so onward that stated canoes from 10' on up were shipped for that purpose with "lettering" along their sides. Anyway, neat evidence for potentially suggesting, once again, that the smaller models were being built and circulated well before they were recorded as such in the build records - at least, insofar as I was able to find.

    and, Kathy, as to similar seats, I believe the answer must be yes. Have a look at the two photos below. One shows the Alfred Wickett model, purportedly from 1893, but with many OT characteristics (some think it could be dated closer to his time at OT). The other photo shows a seat from the early Old Town model that R C Cross purchased from Robert Ross a few years ago. In both cases, there is a simple woven pattern to the caning. Looks pretty similar to me. Wickett.jpg early OT.jpg

  5. Robert P. Ross

    Robert P. Ross Ross Bros

    I noticed in Benson's image the two canoe decks differ in design.
  6. crosscuts

    crosscuts Crosscuts

    The detail of the seats would appear to confirm that the photo posted by Benson is of a model canoe. There are 9 cane strands running fore and aft in the bow seat of Benson's photo. There are 7 strands in the photo of Roger's Wickett model and 8 strands in the early green Old Town. In comparison there are 14 strands in a 5 foot Kennebec model. In a full sized canoe even with wider gauge cane material surely there would be quite a few more fore and aft strands to fill up the wider seat. Has that simple over and under 90 degree pattern been observed as original in an old full sized canoe as Kathy asked?

  7. Roger Young

    Roger Young display sample collector

    I think Robert is right; the decks have a slightly different appearance. So, too, do the rail ends in the lower depiction of the canoe; at the bow, they extend past the stems, but that does not seem to be the case at the stern. Which makes me think that we have to take these images as illustrations only, with certain inexactness or interpretation by the artist being possible. Did that person simplify the deck cutout at one end, or shorten the overhang of the rails at the other as part of 'artistic license'? Another area which comes to mind is the distance between ribs - very wide near the ends in comparison to those between the seats.
  8. OP
    Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    Yes, Gerrish and other early Maine builders used this pattern as shown at and modern model builders have as well as shown at on Chris's model Gerrish seats. I have never seen a full sized Old Town with seats like this.

    The other thing that indicated to me that this might be a model were the nails in the rails which don't seem to be the correct scale for a full sized canoe.

    Last edited: Dec 11, 2011
  9. crosscuts

    crosscuts Crosscuts

    Little did the builder or illustrator of this image know how much puzzlement and discussion he (she)would cause about 100 yrs. later.

    The over-hangs of the rails on the early green model are less than 1/8th of an inch at the stern and about 5/16 inch at the bow. Intentional or accidental?


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