Help support the WCHA Forums by making a tax-deductible donation!

More Morris Madness... serial numbers

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by Michael Grace, Jun 30, 2007.

  1. Kathryn Klos

    Kathryn Klos squirrel whisperer

    Hello Yankee2-- I hope we can figure out some things regarding your canoe.

    Where is the serial number plate on your Morris located? A serial number of 1424 on a B.N. Morris would be found on the left inwale, above the first full rib. The plate itself would be an oval, and the canoe would have heart-shaped decks and two pairs of cant ribs.

    If the serial number plate is on the bow stem, the plate would be a rectangle with rounded corners, and the canoe may actually have serial number 11424, with the first "1" semi-concealed waaaay to the left, sort of connecting the escutcheon pins. That particular canoe would have either a heart-shaped deck or a simple concave curve.

    If the serial number truly is 1424 and it's on the bow stem on a rectangular plate, it's likely the canoe is a Veazie, which is also a B.N. Morris but with a history all its own. A Veazie with this number would have the simple concave curved deck.

    If your canoe has the curved decks and serial number 1424 on an oval on the inwale, the decks could originally have been heart-shaped but were replaced. Morris began offering the curved deck as a replacement in the middle-teens because the heart deck can crack in the middle.

    Determining model can be difficult as there are few obvious differences between the Morris models. Most existing Morrises are Model A and there are also some Model B, which are wider overall and were the model most likely to be set up for sailing or rowing. The Veazie was only made in Model A.

    Most Morris canoes have closed gunwales. They offered open gunwales at a higher price, but the standard Morris has closed gunwales.

    Pictures please!
  2. yankee2

    yankee2 Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Corrections! I couldn’t take it down from my car by myself, so I had to strain to see the serial number last night, in the dark... I took it down today, and discovered another digit weakly stamped under dirt. The serial number is actually 14248. Mike Cyr says that would be a build date about 1916. Hope you’re not too disappointed! It was in such good condition (ZERO rot, and everything looking exactly right), and the price seemed right, so that although I prefer smaller canoes (which I can handle a lot more easily!), and although it’s too big for me to handle alone (you should have seen me taking it off my 4Runner; I had all I could do not to drop it!), I have always wanted a Morris, so I couldn’t resist.

    So, let’s start over. You can see photos of it on eBay by searching auction number 162987961387. As you should be able to see, the decks have a slight compound curve, not a simple rounded cutout (and not heart-shaped). Could this be a Tuscarora (that would be exciting!)? I can’t tell if the seats, decks etc. are mahogany or spruce, as they are stained dark, but they could be spruce. It has a (deep) keel, and outside stems. It has a floor rack that fits (with 4 locking tabs). I had thought it was extra deep (suggesting a model D) but it’s actually just 12 1/2” deep (top of thwart to planking). I suppose it’s probably a model A or B, but they are hard to tell apart (I know I can’t)? I didn’t know that most Morris’ have closed gunwales. I assumed that was the mark of an older canoe, but then, I guess ALL of these are pretty old. I see that some canoes have much higher ends than others, and mine has pretty high ends. Does that tell you anything?

    Maybe you can tell me more, now that you have the correct serial number? Again, hope this adds to the registry!
    Thanks very much, in advance.
    Rick in Acton, MA
  3. yankee2

    yankee2 Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Michael: My canoe is later than I thought. After I took it down from my car, and cleaned the plate, and looked at it in daylight, I discovered another digit, an 8, which made the correct number 14248. It was built about 1916. (the shape of the decks seem to confirm that date). It MIGHT even be a Tuscarora (though it’s not particularly light! ). I have asked Kathryn Klos to look into it for me.
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2018
  4. Kathryn Klos

    Kathryn Klos squirrel whisperer

    I'll attach an image of the Morris deck that I refer to as a simple curve (so that everyone reading this knows what we're talking about). It seems that it was first used on the Veazie model-- initially with a circular cutout in the center, giving it a "keyhole" or ogee appearance, but by 1910 or so that central cutout disappeared and the deck became a simple curve. Morris began using this deck on B.N. Morris models early in the 19-teens and the heart-shape was phased out completely in 1917. Because the Tuscarora Model arrived on the scene late in Morris production, it came with the curved deck and is the only Morris model in the catalogs that is shown with this deck. Catalog pictures of other Morris models continue to show the heart deck even after this shape was discontinued, possibly due to the expense of re-taking pictures. This gives the impression that canoes with the curved deck are Tuscaroras, but as I recall there is only a single confirmed example of this model known to exist. If yours is trimmed in spruce and is "tender" when you paddle it, you may have a second example of this model. This would be cool from the standpoint of research and rarity, but Models A and B are probably better bets for all-around paddling. In the attached image, the deck is mahogany. The Tuscarora was built for speed, and the deck and other trim would be spruce. The Tuscarora didn't come with a keel or floor rack unless that was specially ordered.

    The only confirmed Tuscarora was owned by Robert Todd Lincoln and is currently located at his summer home, "Hildene", in Manchester, VT. It's a 17 footer. A visit there is on my bucket list.

    Attached Files:

  5. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    Hi Rick,
    For a shade of perspective, when the dating table was put together a number of years ago it was for the purpose of providing a consistent basis for estimating the possible build dates of Morris canoes. At the time that the table was first made available notes where included about the many assumptions that were made in order to frame the tool. Until then it was the norm to date all (slight exaggeration but it seemed so) Morris canoes as "1906 per the person in WCHA that I spoke to about it... " To that point, when you refer to your canoe as a 1916...please consider that it is circa 1916 and that it may have been built in 1917 or 1915....maybe even earlier...the assumptions that were made when the table was developed may have been wrong...that has not been proven to be the case, but it is very possible, possibly even likely. If you search on this site you may find some of the old threads that explained the logic and the numerous assumptions.
    Regardless, Morris canoes are well made and even though there seem to be quite a few around, their numbers are scarce in contrast to most Old Towns and many other wooden canoes. Enjoy it for what it is regardless of the actual build date....that you will likely never know with any particular exactitude.
  6. yankee2

    yankee2 Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks very much. I read your book, so I actually know most of that, about the Tuscarora, e.g. that there is only one known, etc., but it’s good to hear it from the horse’s mouth. You have taught me agood deal about Morris canoes already, like that the models (esp. A and B) are not that easy to distinguish. I didn’t know that the curved deck was only used late, and only just now I see what is meant by a keyhole deck (I bet the smoother plan was easier to hold for carrying, among other things), and maybe they resembled Old Towns too much? I have never actually seen one.

    I will have to figure out how to distinguish mahogany from spruce to know for sure it’s not a Tuscarora, but I’m pretty sure it’s not. But please let me know if this s a new canoe in your registry.
  7. yankee2

    yankee2 Curious about Wooden Canoes

    That’s why I said “about 1916.” I understand that the chart is rough and to a certain degree, guesswork. I haven’t seen the assumptions used to make the list, but I’m guessing it was mostly a way to arrange the known range of serial numbers along the span of time over which they were numbered, without accounting for different production in diffrent years. Or dao we know anything about production numbers in any years? That would help to know! Anyway, circa is what I thought.

    The c1916 date is consistent with the rounded deck cutouts, which were used 1916-20, so 1916 makes sense.

    I AM rather disappointed to find it is not an early one, but compared with most canoes, c1916 is ancient! What pleases me most is that it’s a Morris. I noticed them as soon as I became interested in canoes. To me they are the epitome of canoe design (along with most Chestnuts, which also look good to me). After that what I like is that this example is in such EXC condition for 100 years old!

    I will post photos soon.

    Thanks Mike.

Share This Page