Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sporting Collectibles -- Canoes

During the Golden Age of sports afield (1900-1940s) the canoe was romanticized by American illustrators like Carl Rungius (1869-1959), Frank Earle Schoonover (1877-1972), Newell Convers Wyeth (1882-1945), and Philip R. Goodwin (1881-1935).  Their art graced the covers and pages of popular outdoor magazines such as Forest and Stream, Outdoor Life, Hunter-Trapper-Trader, Hunting and Fishing, and Recreation.

The rugged outdoorsman was portrayed as a hearty individual always prepared for any kind of action in the northwoods.  Firearms makers such as Marlin, Remington, and Winchester and fishing tackle manufactures like Bristol Rods, and Pflueger, produced dozens of advertising catalogs, posters and calendars featuring sportsmen paddling a canoe while using their goods.

Vintage advertising goods for canoe manufactures like Peterborough, Chestnut, Old Town, Kennebec, and Rushton are scarce and highly collectible today.

Early catalogs often fetch $100.00 and more depending on condition and quality of graphic illustrations.

Advertising envelopes are rare, and are a bargain compared to prices paid for firearms covers.

Handsomely framed antique prints such as this 'Indian Love Call' pair are hard to find today and are much sought after.

This three panel canoe print with its decorative frame -- embellished with bows and arrows -- is one of my favorite possessions.

Salesman sample paddles and Native American crafted souvenirs like this LL Bean canoe paddle and the birch bark canoe model make delightful decorator pieces.

Northwoods pack baskets made of woven ash -- and associated with canoes -- can double as umbrella stands.

Native American crafted crooked knives -- used in canoe making -- are also highly collectible.

Even canoeing related watch fobs and vintage medals are collectible.  I especially like the Wyonai Canoe Club medal (above) from 1916 -- a second place prize for the 1/4 mile doubles.

If you can afford one -- there's nothing better than owning and paddling a vintage canoe -- like this a 15' Old Town Trapper.  I sold this one a few years back because it was getting to heavy for an old man to portage.  I sure do miss it.


Another extraordinary canoe that I owned for many years was a birch bark crafted by Bill Hafeman, master canoe builder.  It hung from my living room ceiling.  I'm sad to say I never put it in the water.  if my current home had the same high beamed ceilings, I'd still own it.

Here's an unusual canoe collectible... a small tin of varnish -- circa 1900 -- that was made exclusively for the Old Town Canoe Company.  It's pretty rough, and I was disappointed when I received it, but like I said it is an unusual collectible.


  1. Yes hello my family has the same 3 panel canoe print and I was wondering if u knew who the artist was? Any information would be appreciated thanks.

    1. The 3-panel canoe print is signed J. Knowles Hare Jr and is © 1911. I hope this helps.