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New world record auction price for 4' OT model

Discussion in 'Scale and Miniature Canoe Models' started by Roger Young, Jun 12, 2013.

  1. Roger Young

    Roger Young display sample collector

    A world record price for an auction sale of a 4' Old Town display model canoe, likely dating to the 1920's, appears to have taken place at White's Auctions, Middleboro, MA, on Sunday, June 9th, 2013, when the hammer fell at $26,000 plus another 15% buyer's premium, for a total of $29,900. Add in state sales tax, if applicable, and the price is well into the $30,000+ level. The previous auction record for a 4' Old Town sample was just over $18,000. Private sales of similar pieces in mint condition are known to have taken place in the $25,000 to $30,000 range, but this is a new high for a sale in a competitive bidding arena, where auction prices are generally regarded as being lower than ultimate retail values. The model sold at White's appeared to be in very good condition (see photo below). Two other recent sales of 4' Old Town models at auction in the past couple of years resulted in prices in the $12,000 to $13,000 range, but both involved models with some wear, flaking paint and modest damage or missing pieces. Condition is everything. Still, this recent sale falls short of the $41,250 paid for the only known John Henry Rushton sample, a St. Lawrence River skiff, sold at a Smith's auction, NH, in 2007. Obviously, the market for top level, rare models remains strong, and growing stronger.

    Attached Files:

  2. Kathryn Klos

    Kathryn Klos squirrel whisperer

    Sweet little canoe-- I especially like the paddles.
  3. chris pearson

    chris pearson Michigan Canoe Nut

    Wow, what a beauty.
  4. KEA

    KEA Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Is the color in the thumbnail photo accurate? It looks to be a light tan.

    The OT authentic models I've seen are usually a burgundy-reddish or green color.
  5. Kathryn Klos

    Kathryn Klos squirrel whisperer

    The little canoe appears orange on my computer screen.

    Perhaps many canoe models are red or green because those were the most common colors used on full-sized canoes.
  6. KEA

    KEA Curious about Wooden Canoes

    After looking again, it does appear to be a tan-ish orange color. :eek:
  7. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    You can't always trust the colors you see in digital images - the photo shown clearly has its white balance way off, and if corrected, the canoe is a true orange.

    In addition, most monitors are not color calibrated.

    Roger Young's documentation of Old Town sign canoes shows a number of them painted dark green, but that a lot of other colors were used as well (including at least one orange one).
  8. KEA

    KEA Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thank you for posting this record breaking news Roger. And thank you for your posts Kathryn, Chris and Dan, too.

    I was given a Unique, Authentic Old Town 4" model canoe some 42 years ago, when I was 9 years old....and I still have it!

    It includes two paddles (one paddle is shorter than the other) and I've kept it and the two paddles safely tucked away all these years, except for the once in a while look see.

    It's an OT red color and in very good condition from what I've learned since finding this excellent forum :) and other searches I've done over the years.

    I have many, many questions about my beauty but I work a lot and my time is limited as to when I can begin posting photos and asking questions (Also, I don't want to hijack this thread, unless it's okay for the time being).

    Can anyone tell me why one of the paddles is shorter than the other? One paddle is 18" long and the other is 16" long. They do not have OT logos on them, perhaps they were not used for advertising. Please add anything about the paddles you think would be helpful.

    Another exciting feature on this model is the Gold Leaf and Blue Outlined Sweeping almost Greek Key like Original Painted decorative line which does not interfere with the Old Town Logo. The OT logo is placed just slightly lower than the Gold Leaf and Blue Outlined decorative line, lower than what I've seen on all other models so far.
    I've searched for years and all over this forum and have never seen anything like this. It seems to be a rarity and certainly is a beauty. I would be grateful for any information regarding this feature and of course I will find the time to take and post photos, soon I hope!!

    Thank you in advance...
  9. mccloud

    mccloud "Tiger Rag" back on the tidal Potomac In Memoriam

    There's no reason why the bow paddler and stern paddler would use the same length paddle. Quite the contrary: if there was 5foot2 girl in the bow she would want a shorter, lighter paddle, while the 6 foot guy in the stern would use a longer paddle. Having paddles of different lengths in a model would seem to add a bit of 'reality' to it. Tom McCloud
  10. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    The model paddles were not a standard size so there were many variations, just like the full sized ones as Tom mentioned. Some similar ones with decals are shown at for example.

    The blue body with a gold leaf stripe and the Greek key on the ends was a standard pattern as shown at and known as the design number 17. The image below shows a full size sign canoe with a similar pattern. The image at shows an eight foot model with a stripe and turned down ends.

    Does yours have a serial number on the inside stems as described at and can you provide any pictures of the model and paddles? Thanks,


    Attached Files:

    • SIGN.JPG
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  11. KEA

    KEA Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks Benson and mccloud!

    Benson, that IS the Greek key design, my model's Greek key is outlined in blue and the model itself is OT red, and has the OT logo decals just under the ends of the Greek key.

    This is exciting... I'll work on taking photos soon.
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2013
  12. OP
    Roger Young

    Roger Young display sample collector

    Hello to all:
    I've been on the road for a few days, so have missed out on the recent chat re this thread. I did not see this model in person but, while travelling last week, did encounter someone who was a bidder at the recent White auction sale. He told me the model was indeed an orange-ish color, and did not appear to be a faded red. Dan is right that my search of the OT build records turned up models that were painted in various hues. Green was probably the most used, along with red; but there were several orange or orange/black models, some brown, some blue. Different trim styles were also used - Greek key, turned down ends, borders, gold pin stripes, etc. The wording of the trade name lettering along the sides under the gunwales also varied over the years, as did the font or type style. The positioning of the logo decals at the opposing ends was not very consistent - some models had them placed higher up, while others are sort of midway off the water. Different craftsmen at the OT factory seem to have made the models over the years, at least according to the names appearing on the build records. I suspect each had his own notion of what looked best. By the way, my bidder friend also told me that he measured the model in the White sale and found it to be 51" long. The OT records usually refer to these pieces as "4' display" samples; I have known them to measure anywhere between 48" and 51" or 52". Some have serial #'s visible on the inner stems; many others (in fact most of those I have come across) do not. Some 81 total "display samples" and "sign canoes" measuring anywhere from 4' to 12' can be found in the Old Town build logs, all with designated serial #'s and produced between 1912 and 1931 or so. However, we also know from old photographic records and other documents that Old Town made and distributed small models in a 42" and 48" length from about 1903 or so, and has continued to make and/or sell such pieces right up until the present day. It is estimated that total display model production by OT could amount to 280 - 320 pieces. These numbers, admittedly, are a 'best guess', but are extrapolated from total canoe production at OT and based on a comparison with total product figures for Kennebec, a major competitor who also used small models for advertising/promotional purposes, and, according to research done by Dan Miller, recorded some 60 models being given serial #'s in their own logs. Old Town models do seem to pop up the most at auctions, followed less frequently by Kennebec models and rather infrequently by Carleton models. Only a handful or less by E M White have been seen, and only one by Rushton. Very few Canadian manufacturers' samples have ever been found - 3 known Stephenson models; a couple of Herald/Rice Lake Canoe Co. pieces; a few by Chestnut; a handful by Peterborough Canoe. That's about it. If anyone out there has information to share on other known or documented examples, we'd be delighted to know so that we can add this knowledge to our data base. Photographs, measurements, any details at all would be wonderful and very gratefully appreciated. Can you help???

  13. KEA

    KEA Curious about Wooden Canoes

    I looked for serial numbers on my 4' Old Town Model canoe and found the numbers 4 & 9 penciled on, by hand, on the inside stern and bow stems where the serial numbers are usually stamped on (as shown in the FAQ section of WHCA).

    Thoughts anyone?
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2013
  14. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    You may need to take some good pictures of the inside stems from each end to see if you can identify any other digits. The first picture of the stem in mine is shown at and it took some manipulation of the colors as shown at to make the other digits start to stand out. I was then able to search Roger's list for similar digit patterns to find the build records shown at for the model and the following one at for the date. Good luck and let us know what you find,

  15. KEA

    KEA Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Wow, Benson impressive research and thank you!

    I'm going to need some time to follow through with this...I just looked with a bright flashlight, in diminishing sunlight, and did notice perhaps one stem does have some more penciled digits but they look like Greek to me. I'll need to look in bright sunlight and use all sorts of lighting and cameras and manipulation to discern them.

    The other stem seems to have a clear 9 and a VERY clear definite 4. I will mention maybe the 9 could be a 6 but only because there's a tiny nail in it (making it difficult to read). I'm also assuming it's a 9 because the very clear 4 is (how do I say it?) is upright and readable from left to right.
  16. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    The four on the end of my stem is rotated 90 degrees from the other digits. Is your four rotated like this as well?

  17. KEA

    KEA Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Not sure, yet...

    I'm not sure about the one stem that looks like Greek, I need more free time to check into that.

    The other stem seems to not be rotated 90 degrees, because a 9 could be a 6. Frustrating!!

    I'll need more time to pursue this investigation...

    SWEETWATER LOVES Wooden Canoes

    pics please,please , pretty please.
  19. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    KEA sent me a message indicating that it may take some time before he can get any photographs of his model. There are more pictures of mine available at while we wait. It appears that this one saw some rough use as a child's toy.


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