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Please help me identify

Discussion in 'Scale and Miniature Canoe Models' started by JRinvest, Dec 12, 2016.

  1. JRinvest

    JRinvest Curious about Wooden Canoes

    I saw this at a local second-hand store and had to purchase it. I have no idea what I have here. Does anybody happen to know? Thank you.
     

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  2. Roger Young

    Roger Young display sample collector

    OK, I'll take on the challenge. However, please understand that, while I have some experience with canoes and models from the South Pacific, I'm far from an expert. I'm also at a disadvantage, being currently in Florida, while all my research books and info on S. Pacific canoes are back north, in Ontario, buried in snow (or so I hear).

    To begin with, what you have appears to be a small, tourist-type, souvenir piece, likely brought back by someone who had travelled on vacation to one of the South Pacific islands. But, which one? There are thousands, amongst which to try to place the origin of your piece. The South Pacific is broken down into three main cultural, geographic areas - Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia. Gut instinct and vague memories of studying Haddon & Hornell's book "The Canoes of Oceania", suggest to me that your model could be Micronesian. If you're near a good library, see if you can get hold of a copy of this book. There are other excellent texts if H&H is not available, but it is often thought of as 'the Bible' when it comes to Oceanic canoes.

    To go further and try to narrow your model's origin down to an island or chain, my instinct again suggests to me perhaps the Caroline Islands, or the Marshalls. Across the South Pacific, canoes can be distinguished and differentiated by the way in which the outriggers are attached to the main body, and/or by the stylistic patterns of the ends of the canoe. The triangular-shaped pattern of the outrigger booms and planking put me in mind of Caroline Is. models; the ends of your model put me in mind of those from the Marshall Is., as I vaguely recall. These island groups are close together in an area of the South Pacific just to the north of New Guinea and the Solomons.

    I'm admittedly going out on a limb here, and could be way off base. I wish I had access to my research books, but have been nudged by Benson Gray into attempting a response. I have also passed this along to an old friend in California, Terry Rutkas, who has far more experience in these waters than I do, and can be regarded as truly having some expertise and experience in identification. I'm hoping he will chime in here shortly, or pass along his thoughts to me, whereupon I shall be glad to publish for him.

    So, for now, what you have appears, fairly certainly, to be a souvenir from the South Pacific. Just from which part remains to be determined, although I have taken a 'best guess' for the moment, and will be waiting for the real experts to provide more reliable info.

    Cheers,
    Roger
     
  3. OP
    OP
    JRinvest

    JRinvest Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Very interesting! I will go to the library later this week and try to find that book. Thank you for the information. I appreciate any other info you provide.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2016
  4. Roger Young

    Roger Young display sample collector

    Alright JR, I have received a reply from Terry, who provides a definitive answer to your question about your model canoe. Turns out I was correct in placing it within the general Micronesian geographical/cultural area, but Terry's deeper and more intimate knowledge has pinpointed the exact location and origin. Here is what he says:

    "H&H doesn’t have this particular canoe but by another coincidence it happens that I am familiar with it. The canoe is from Palau. Micronesian, but from the western end of the region.
    Long story, short: My friend Joe Kalohi was saying that although his heritage is Hawaiian, he hasn’t done any travelling in the Pacific. Our wives told us to go off and have an adventure without them, so we decided to go the Festival of Pacific Arts (FestPac) which was held in Guam this year (it is held in a different Pacific nation every four years). We had a little extra time before the festival so we decided to visit Palau—neither one of us had been there. A canoe of this type was on display at the Belau museum, and I also acquired a beautiful little model (picture enclosed)."

    So, there you have it from a real expert, Terry Rutkas, a widely travelled and frequent visitor as well as canoe enthusiast and historian of South Pacific waters. If you do manage to locate a library with a copy of H&H, you will find it to be a delightful (and challenging) book. Published by the Bishop Museum, of Honolulu, it is made up of 3 volumes of extensive research, filled with photos and sketches of many different watercraft from all across the South Pacific. These delightful canoes, both of the paddled as well as the sailed varieties, mostly dugouts but occasionally built of planks, were what carried mankind on epic, historic voyages thousands of miles in length, spread over thousands of years, migrating from island to island. All of which was accomplished largely without maps, compasses or other modern navigational aids. Truly astounding exploits using equally fascinating, diverse canoes. The South Pacific is a marvellous place in which to go canoe hunting, but be forewarned: such a pursuit can become addictive and the chase never-ending. So many islands; so many different variations in construction.

    Good luck, and much enjoyment with your little canoe model from Palau.

    Roger
     

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  5. OP
    OP
    JRinvest

    JRinvest Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Wow, such a wealth of wonderful information! Thank you to you and Terry for taking the time to educate me. I am going to enjoy reading more about this kind of canoe and Palau, in general. I now understand what I have is souvenir, but out of curiosity, do you happen to know how much they are worth? I just want to make sure I don't have something valuable that should be protected in a glass case :)
     
  6. Roger Young

    Roger Young display sample collector

    I wouldn't worry about going to the trouble of a glass case. These artistic, souvenir-type things tend to be fairly numerous and readily replaceable if lost or damaged. Usually they are more 'representative' of the real thing, than actual scale models. This one looks to be a pretty accurate depiction, with somewhat detailed features. Still, they often have more sentimental or decorative value than great financial worth. If it were an older antique, say close to 100 years or more, its value could be much greater. Pre-WWII items are very hard to find in the South Pacific, the result of destruction during wars, typhoons, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis and the ravages of time. Best to simply display it, contemplate it, enjoy it, and not place any emphasis on money's worth. If it gives you pleasure, you have received value for your expense. If it causes you to want to read and learn more, it has served an even greater purpose, as well as fulfilling the artisan's greatest hope when he/she created it - it has drawn you into his/her culture and history. Can't place a $ value on that.

    If you are still feeling unsatisfied, though, I suspect it probably could be bought on site in Palau for $20 - $40, but you'd have to either fly there or have it shipped, thus adding to cost. I would guesstimate that, in your secondhand shop, it could have been priced anywhere from $50 - $100; likely the same at many flea markets. If less than that, you're already a winner; if more, you are not necessarily a loser. In and of itself, it's not an object of great financial consequence. The pleasure it can bring, the educational pursuits it can foster are well beyond mere money anyway.

    Of course, if it ever turned out to be an identifiable piece by an artist of world-wide fame and demand, then possibly you might consider a bullet-proof case or bank vault. That's a subject for your own on-going investigation and research.

    CORRECTION: I see that I have absent-mindedly and incorrectly been referring to the South Pacific throughout these discussions. In fact, Palau is just north of the Equator, placing it within the North Pacific, albeit slightly. So, my apologies to any who may have been misguided, misinformed or otherwise offended. I blame it all on the Broadway musical which makes me think of all those little islands as being in that southern paradise. A great navigator I would have been, never quite sure whether I was looking at Polaris or the Southern Cross. Anyway, that part of the World is fun to explore, canoe-wise, both North and South.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2016
  7. OP
    OP
    JRinvest

    JRinvest Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks for the clarification, Roger :). And thank you for the advice and guestimation on the monetary value of my canoe. I agree when you say one really can't place a monetary value on it. I appreciate the art and history of it.
     
  8. Treewater

    Treewater Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    That outrigger and deck are interesting. It would be fun to paddle one island to island. Certainly stable.
     
  9. OP
    OP
    JRinvest

    JRinvest Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Yes, I find it very interesting, as well. I haven't seen too many like it while doing more research. Unfortunately, "The Canoes Of Oceania" wasn't found to be in any of my local libraries.
     
  10. Roger Young

    Roger Young display sample collector

    Not surprised. Original editions went out of print long ago. Bishop Museum, Honolulu, did a reprint, and even that is a scarce book to find. Occasionally, a copy pops up on eBay or elsewhere, often selling for around $300. In the last few years, a copy or two changed hands for about $100, which was an absolute steal!! A First Edition would likely run upwards of $1,000. Probably not to be found in the average community library, unless you're in a major center. You could try searching ABE.com (Advanced Book Exchange); the dealers there are probably your best bet, and there could be several opportunities and prices from which to choose. Good luck.

    As to differences between your model and others, that is the very point that makes canoes of the Pacific region (Oceania) so intriguing and exciting. Each island has a different shape, different way of attaching outriggers, etc. That was the very reason which drove H&H to do their research, collect models, create sketches and write their book. Took years of painstaking research, a long time ago. It's also the basic explanation of how/why Terry and myself were able to look at your model and say - yes, that would likely originate from Palau. It is those individual characteristics, and knowledge of them as recorded by H&H (and/or gathered by others), which allow that to be done. There are several other texts as well as H&H; a Google search might turn some up. I just don't have the titles at hand here.
    Roger
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2016
  11. MGC

    MGC Paddlephile

    Reprints seem to be readily available on Amazon as are several older copies. Prices are all over the place and generally as you note but I did see that there is one that is available for under $100 usd.
     
  12. Roger Young

    Roger Young display sample collector

    JR:
    It may take you a bit of time to acquire a copy of "Canoes of Oceania". In the meantime, here are a few more photos of Oceanic outriggers to whet your appetite. I found these while rummaging through my photo files - pics of a few things I collected over the years, now gone on to museums in Hawaii and Wisconsin. The variations are intriguing and the search is endless. Cheers.
    Roger
     

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    Last edited: Dec 23, 2016
  13. Roger Young

    Roger Young display sample collector

    And here are a few more from museums around the World. I always particularly liked the last one, from Wuvalu, with the big underwater spike at the ends, meant to protect the canoe from running aground on treacherous coral reefs. Fun!!!
     

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  14. OP
    OP
    JRinvest

    JRinvest Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Wow, those are truly unique. Thank you for sharing! I've been on a quest, searching for "Canoes of Oceania", and seeing if I'd get lucky and find it at one of the various second-hand shops in my surrounding area. No luck, of course. :)
     
  15. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    I suspect that it might not be fun if they hit a reef at speed, although it would still be better to hit the spike than the hull.

    Benson
     
  16. MGC

    MGC Paddlephile

    https://www.amazon.com/Canoes-Ocean...=1482536420&sr=8-1&keywords=Canoes+of+Oceania
    The $100 copy is no longer listed.
    https://www.abebooks.com/book-search/title/canoes-oceania/
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/RARE-1st-Ed...481324?hash=item568be8dcac:g:woEAAOSwIgNXtq06
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Canoes-of-O...499040?hash=item33c3ee2fe0:g:J2sAAOSw6BtVTCPP
     
  17. Only 2 days left . . . . I can't post any proper links in this reply, but if yr in the US you can get all 3 vols of Canoes of Oceania for the amazing price of $35. After that it goes up to $50 which is not that bad either.
    Anyway if you subsitute slashes for dollars, the link is https:$$bishopmuseumpress.org$collections$science-culture-history$products$canoes-of-oceania
    It doesn't look as if they ship other than US destinations so the rest of us are outa luck, too bad
     
  18. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

  19. "the big underwater spike at the ends, meant to protect the canoe from running aground on treacherous coral reefs"


    The Wuvulu, Aua and Maty Islands canoes are one of the most unusually & strikingly shaped dugout canoes, but I think there could be a different take on the reasons for their long horizontal and vertical spearlike bows and sterns.

    As one of the main functions of the canoe was to support fishing from the canoe as well as by swimming, those extensions would come incredibly handy [pun intended] as handholds while resting on between dives as well as temporary catch support. That the extensions are equal at both ends speaks to a more symmetrical function like this, whereas the canoes were paddled mainly unidirectionally. Also, in the two following examples, one might expect a little more damage to their fragile ends if reef-ramming was a frequent event!
    AuaIs-sharkfisher-sm.jpg
    The often tufted tall fragile vertical peaks would enable visibility to those more than a few canoe-lengths away in waves with head and eyes barely above the water while frantically supporting some heavy catch and trying to locate the canoe in wavy conditions: tall flagpoles indicating safety.

    Anyway, those seem more likely functional reasons for those wonderful and improbable horizontal and vertical extensions!
    Wuvulu-1885sm.jpg

    **
    [the above should maybe go in the dugout section, but it does continue the conversation in the thread here]
     

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