Occasionally, folks ask why prices for antique model canoes are so high in comparison to values for older full-size versions by the same early North American canoe factories. See, for example, http://forums.wcha.org/showthread.p...esman-s-samples&highlight=prices+model+canoes, which offers some explanation. Recently, I was asked to offer some private advice and comment to prospective bidders contemplating the purchase of two very fine Old Town Canoe Co. samples which were up for auction in a Morphy sale, just last week, 29 Oct. 2016. The items offered were of outstanding quality; in fact, they were two of the finest specimens ever to have come along. In the end result, they reached near record prices, and could, in my view, have done even better. It is fair to say that, in spite of recent, sluggish economic times following the catastrophic downturn of 2008, prices for display samples have held up extremely well, and even bucked the trend. The red model below sold for $27,600; the green model sold for $28,800. Both amounts are inclusive of 20% buyer’s premium. Some important background information should be included here in order to properly appreciate these results. Unfortunately, it was not offered by the auctioneer in its printed sale catalogue. The red sample was actually a 42” model built on a Carleton Canoe Co. form, and had all the usual characteristics of a typical Carleton model – shorter length, heart-shaped decks, carry-thwart, copper bands around the rail ends. It had even originally been painted palm green (a Carleton color), then re-painted in Old Town red and lettered with the OT brand name along its sides. The style of lettering is in the very early manner. It could very well be that this sample was made at Carleton prior to the 1910 take-over by Old Town, then done-over and issued by the new OT owners as one of its own. As a result, it is truly a ‘hybrid’, very unique, and not likely to have been repeated. For a collector of advertising memorabilia, it could represent a ‘two-for-one’ find, something like a mis-printed stamp for a postage collector. For a canoe model collector, it is a very stunning rarity. According to private information, it had previously changed hands at the $30K level. The green model is simply stunning. In my experience, it is the finest example of its kind yet to come up for sale. It is better than the record-setting example ($29,900) set at the John White auction in 2013. Why do I say this? There is, at the Smithsonian Museum, a green Old Town 4’ display sample, donated to them by Old Town in 1907. That piece has remained protected in a box, out of sunlight and otherwise protected for much of its 110-year history; its condition is, thus, absolutely mint. The green model which sold last week at Morphy’s is as close as one could ever wish to come to the sample in the Museum. Both buyers are to be congratulated for their astute purchases. These results occurred even though pre-sale estimates were set absurdly low (US$10,000-US$15,00) in comparison to other recent sales. In some instances, auctioneers seem to publish very conservative advance expectations as a way to attract greater bidder attention from potential buyers hopeful of picking up a bargain. Low pre-sale estimates certainly do not deter interest. One has to wonder, though, whether this practice might not also serve to restrain bidder enthusiasm once the estimate levels have been exceeded. After all, these auctioneers are supposedly knowledgeable, and their pre-sale estimates are presented as a supposedly reliable guide of what to expect, or bid. My personal belief, expressed in writing to the auctioneer before that sale, was that both items could easily bring US$25,000, and that a far more realistic pre-sale estimate would have been US$20,000 – US$25,000. As it turned out, I was right. Indeed, I would not have been at all surprised had the final sale prices for those two exceptional examples been another 20% higher. And I fully believe that such results would have been entirely warranted, given the values already established in other leading sales, where the items were of top quality, but still not as good as those in the Morphy sale. Bottom line: prices for authentic antique display sample canoes continue to hold up well, even in difficult times. It’s the old market place rule of supply and demand, coupled with a willingness on the part of a well-heeled, enthusiastic bidder to spend.