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1907 Old Town Model “XX” Canoe

Discussion in 'Research and History' started by Jerry Fruetel, Mar 2, 2010.

  1. Jerry Fruetel

    Jerry Fruetel A well built wooden canoe is a work of art

    The following is a copy of an ad currently listed on the Minneapolis Craigslist web site. I know nothing about the seller or the canoe, but I thought it might interest WCHA history buffs. It appears to be a rare OT model in excellent condition.

    Very Rare 1907 Old Town Model “XX” Canoe - $3500 (Metro/North)
    Date: 2010-02-11, 2:52PM CST

    Very Rare 1907 Old Town Model “XX” Canoe

    Builder: Old Town Canoe Company, Maine
    Year built: 1907
    Model: XX
    Grade: CS
    Length: 18 feet
    Serial number: #6840
    Condition: Original/Outstanding.
    100% original except for canvas.
    Original owner: Horrace Pratt Toby (1838-1918), Wareham, Mass;1858 Harvard University graduate.

    Hull planking: Cedar
    Hull cover: Canvas
    Ribs: Cedar
    Closed gunwales: Spruce
    Thwarts: Maple
    Decks: Maple
    Seats: Maple w/ hand caning
    Keel: None
    Colors: Hull canvas is painted marine grade [original] dark green; all wood is varnished and seasoned 100+ years to a dark patina caramel color (not painted).

    This is an extremely rare example of an Old Town model “XX” wood/canvas canoe. According to an Old Town representative (2009), the “XX” was an experimental model and only a few dozen were produced. This may be the best remaining example in existence. Copy of original builder certificate included.

    Re-canvassed and ready to go another 100 years. Rare opportunity to add a historic gem to your collection.

    Price: $3,500
  2. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    I would love to know how someone determined that the XX was an experimental model since there is virtually no documentation about it. There were clearly more than a few dozen produced. The Old Town database sample shows a total of 125. This includes 55 that were 18 feet long built in 1909-1910 and 34 that were 16 feet long built in 1906-1910. This implies a total production of around 369 and 52 respectively although the accuracy of these estimates would be low since the sample sizes are so small. The remaining totals are 24 that were 17 feet long, 6 that were 15 feet long, and 6 that were 20 feet long.

    It is possible that the XX model was the original name for the Otca but we would need to get some detailed measurements and lines drawings from good early examples of both models to be sure. The 1905 Old Town Canoe Company factory inventory on page 11 is very detailed and shows three XX model forms in 16, 17, and 18 foot lengths but no Otca model forms. The 1913 inventory on page 198 is similarly detailed with no XX model forms and four Otca model forms in 16, 17(x2), and 18 foot lengths. The forms inventories in between are a bit vague with references to "forms as last year" and occasional depreciation notes. There are some references to new forms but nothing obvious about either the XX or the Otca model forms.

    Please reply here if you can provide more detailed information about the XX model. Thanks,

    Last edited: Mar 2, 2010
  3. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder


    I can't help with the any XX model info but I have "talked" to the seller.

    I suspect it is a case of a "little knolledge.....", the seller is a past WCHA member and may be siteing the knolledge that exsisted at the time. I'm not so sure about the "excellent" condition either, based on the pics I saw. I suspect it's overpriced by a factor of 2 at least. But then that's just me. :)

  4. msturd

    msturd Michael Sturdevant

    Benson, Upon inquiry about my 1909 XX model I was told by an Old Town rep that the XX was a test model and there were only around 50 made so perhaps that's where they got the idea.
  5. msturd

    msturd Michael Sturdevant

    I reread that letter and the actual words were not "test model", but "special-makeup model".
  6. paul s

    paul s Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    benson, i own a 1908 16' xx, and also a 1939 otca 16' when there side by side pretty tough to notice a difference. i will bring the xx to assembly in july and we can compare and take measurements. paul shirley
  7. Kathryn Klos

    Kathryn Klos squirrel whisperer

    good plan, Paul

    I'd love to do a video of the XX for this website. Video can record a lot of detail. Maybe we should plan to video a comparison to the Otca.

  8. tnyankee

    tnyankee LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Do you have a way of uploading the 1905 page 11 that you mention showing the three xx models?

    Thank you

  9. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    That page is attached below along with the only known catalog reference to the XX model from the 1905 catalog. Another interesting aspect of this list of forms is that it appears to indicate that some were "Ironed" which imples that these had metal bands and were used frequently. The others are listed as "Skeleton" which seems to indicate that they didn't have iron bands and were used less often. Let us know what you have found. Thanks,


    Attached Files:

    Last edited: May 31, 2010
  10. tnyankee

    tnyankee LOVES Wooden Canoes


    I was just rereading this thread and you stated,

    "The 1905 Old Town Canoe Company factory inventory on page 11 is very detailed and shows three XX model forms in 16, 17, and 18 foot lengths but no Otca model forms. The 1913 inventory on page 198 is similarly detailed with no XX model forms and four Otca model forms in 16, 17(x2), and 18 foot lengths. The forms inventories in between are a bit vague with references to "forms as last year" and occasional depreciation notes."

    So, I thought I would check to see what you had found. I have seen the page you posted with the power canoe photo on it, have not seen three xx model I thought I'd ask.


  11. 1907.OT.XX

    1907.OT.XX New Member

    1907 Model XX Comments

    I would like to thank Jerry Fruetel for his interest in the Craigslist ad for my 18’ 1907 Old Town XX. A Google search led me to this interesting WCHA thread discussion about the XX model canoes which represent a unique chapter in the early history of the company.

    In response to Mr. Gray’s comment “I would love to know how someone determined that the XX was an experimental model since there is virtually no documentation about it” my source (as cited in my posted ad) was a simple phone call to the Old Town Canoe history department where I was issued a copy of the builder certificate. The vetran employee in the Olt Town office was excited that I had a boat that had a four digit serial number - and offered the comment that only a few 18' XX models were produced. I am now firmly corrected as you seem to be the Old Town history authority based on your comments above; not the company itself.

    In response to Mr. Lindberg’s comment “I suspect it is a case of ‘little knolledge’…and I’m not sure of the ‘excellent condition’ either” I am assuming that you mean “knowledge” and I’d suggest inspecting a vessel in person prior to posting a condition assessment online. I enjoyed our phone conversation very much but now realize it was investigative journalism not wooden boat enthusiast networking.

    For those who own an XX model Old Town canoe, or are curious about the 18 foot model XX I’ve included a few pictures of my boat. I located the vessel in the rear of a friend’s Adirondack Great Camp boathouse just out side of Lake Placid, New York in 2001. The boat was in beautiful condition minus canvas and the seat canning. These issues were restored in 2007 when the canoe turned 100 yrs old. Aside from fresh varnish on the capped gunwales, canvas and cane, the boat is unrestored and original. If anyone is interested I’d be glad to forward more pictures.

    Having just returned from a long canoe trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in northern Minnesota I assure you she paddles beautifully – I hope I perform as well at age 103.

    In sum, an Old Town Canoe Company told me that this may be one of the best 1907 18 foot model XX canoes remaining (that is why this canoe is no longer for sale).

    If you own an 18 foot Old Town model XX in exceptional condition please be in contact for dialogue. Thanks!

    Attached Files:

  12. normsims

    normsims Morris canoe fan

    1907 Old Town XX

    That's a beautiful boat. Just for the record, I've attached the build record from Old Town.

    Attached Files:

    • 6840.jpg
      File size:
      357.9 KB
  13. Kathryn Klos

    Kathryn Klos squirrel whisperer

    Beautiful boat-- glad you are using it. Many of us have canoes that are over 100 years old and enjoy using them too. An old canoe can take generation after generation out onto the water.

    I hope you continue to hang out here in forums and join the WCHA, and attend our Assemblies (there was an XX at our Assembly this past July). If you do so, you will be even more convinced that Benson Gray is the ultimate authority regarding the canoe company founded by the Gray family. He and other members here have knowledge beyond that of the employees of Old Town, and are the ones most likely to find your canoe interesting.

  14. nickb

    nickb WCHA member #8947

    Allow me to also issue a word of welcome - the fine folks here on the forums are an invaluable source of knowledge and support. I hope you enjoy your time here, and continue to come back for conversation.

    If you like, the Minnesota chapter of the WCHA has a paddle planned for September 18th - I'm sure you're more than welcome. Location is yet to be determined, but let us know if you're interested in paddling with a few other folks who recognize the value of these wonderful boats.
  15. OP
    Jerry Fruetel

    Jerry Fruetel A well built wooden canoe is a work of art


    Thanks for the update on your XX. I would love to see it at the Minnesota WCHA paddle on Sept. 18 or future WCHA events.

  16. msturd

    msturd Michael Sturdevant

    Thank you very much for sharing your info and pics of your XX. I have a 1909 XX that I am working on...very slowly, and the pictures help a great deal. Thanks again, Michael
  17. tnyankee

    tnyankee LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Thanks for sharing the photos of your canoe. It looks to be in excellent condition and Im sure it is a joy to paddle. I just took my son out in our Yankee this weekend on a scouting trip. It was so much more enjoyable than the aluminum canoes the rest of the pack was in.

    I do have a question regarding your canoe....and it is just that...a question. How legible is the serial number on your canoe? The reason I ask, is your XX has short decks while all the other ones that I know of have 20" decks more like the OTCA decks. It would be very interesting to see that they made the XX with both short and long decks. Please know that I am no fountain of canoe knowledge and could easily be in the dark about something that others already know of.


  18. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    The image at has the XX model forms listed on the 12th, 13th, 14th lines down from the top below the CR (Charles River), HW (Heavy Water), and IF (Ideal Fishing or Guide's Special) model forms. Let me know if this doesn't answer your question.

  19. 1907.OT.XX

    1907.OT.XX New Member

    re: Adam/TNYankee


    Enclosed is a picture of the serial # - you'll note that I have chosen not to strip, sand, or refinish the interior of the canoe as to preserve the patina. A simple wipe of the stem with a wet sponge really brings out the serial number stamp which is visible in the picture.

    Also, here is another image of the short deck(s). As noted in the builder certificate posted in hte thread above, the Old Town rep. I spoke to mentioned that another unique characteristic of this boat is the use of Maple for the decks, thwarts and seats. Thanks!

    Attached Files:

  20. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder


    Sorry if my response raised your hackles.

    The comment about “little knowledge” was more about the current increasing understanding and knowledge base of OT, which has grown significantly in the past 10 years or so, as other posts have hinted at, rather than your specific knowledge which I “assumed” was maybe dated. (yes, I know, that assumption thing.)

    And it’s been a while, but I assume the pics I saw didn’t do the canoe justice, or maybe I was expecting something different for “excellent”, I don’t know, but we often have to make a judgment based on little information.

    But, it’s does look nice in these pics and I’d love to see it in person.

    So I’m reiterating Jerry’s and Nick’s invite, come on out this weekend, we’d love to paddle with you.

    Barry’s going to send the notice out tonight, but we talked last night and the tentative plan is to paddle the last part of the Namakangon (sp) and a small part of the St Criox on Saturday.

    As it turns out, I’ve never meet (to my knowledge) either Jerry or Nick, due to my strange employment road in the past year or so, but Nick and I have e-mailed a bit.

    And if you can’t make this time, maybe another time.

    And I’d still like to see it in person, so if you don’t/can’t come, maybe I could come to your place to see it. (I’m a sucker for nice canoes and I see we're neighbors.)


    Oh, another member has a 17ft OT that we at one point thought "might" be a XX model, though w/o S/N's it's unknown. (both stems were replaced in the past.)
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2010

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