Chestnut Canoe Co. decal variations

Roger Young

display sample collector
Yesterday I posted some comments on "Dating Peterborough Canoe Co. decals". Allow me to offer a few similar thoughts on decals from the Chestnut Canoe Co. Here, again, there are signs of variation over the years, though perhaps not so dramatic or easily related to differing time periods. Also, in the photos below, I should point out that all but one are of small decals, the ones that appear on 'sample' paddles and the upper shafts of full-size paddles. These comments may or may not apply to the larger deck decals. I am sure many others can input helpful advice here.

Photo 1 shows a decal placed on a 7' 'display sample' canoe believed to date from the years before the fire (1921). It could be from around 1910, or so. One feature that distinguishes this early decal from later designs is the number of leaf points at the base - there are five, and the leaves themselves are somewhat differently shaped from later versions which have four points along the bottom, and a fifth higher up the left side (as viewed). The 'tip' of the chestnut curls to the left, and the stem lays rather flat. The color of the nut appears a rather light brown, with the lettering being a dark brown or black. Hard to distinguish in the photo through the layers of varnish.

Photo 2 shows a decal from an 11" sample paddle, hand-whittled, and believed to have been made in the period just after the fire when, it is said, Chestnut kept some of the older employees busy at home making small items by hand. These samples are quite rare, and the decal has changed. Note that only four leaf points appear at the base; the 'tip' of the nut curls to the right, and the stem seems more vertical. The color of the decal is an 'orangey-brown' and the lettering appears black, possibly with some re-positioning.

Photo 3 shows a decal from a 12" sample paddle whose shape is quite similar to those of the usual Peterborough and Canadian Canoe Co. samples. One could reasonably assume that it comes from a period when all three companies operated under the mantle of Canadian Watercraft, perhaps 1930's - '40's, or so. This is the paddle on the left of this photo; it is shown beside a paddle similar to that in photo 2 for the sake of comparison. The color of the nut area is now a 'greyish-brown'. Over all, the decal looks much the same, but the accent marks in the leaves seem to be slightly revised, as does the positioning of the lettering on the decal's face.

Photo 4 shows a decal from the deck of an 'early' Chestnut 'Cruiser' full-size canoe. I would think it is post-fire, given that there are four points to the leaves at its base. Interestingly, the color of the nut area is a dark brown, with bold company name lettering in gold throughout. Other versions have the company name in a gold/yellow color, with the location name in dark/black. Look, too, for the change in geographic location from Fredericton to Oromocto, when the factory moved.

Comments from others are most welcome. If my surmise on any of this is wrong, please do correct me. There may well have been time overlaps when decals were applied, with new supplies being ordered while old stock was being used up. My thoughts are mostly anecdotal, based largely upon what I have observed from albeit limited experience, and not from deep research.



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I hope Dick doesn't mind my re-sharing of his template. He's got a great pictorial here with dates. I suspect the cruiser decal above fits in after the first one. It's very similar to what's on the back of the catalogues from 1913 on. Your early decal may have been a paddle decal to fit on a 7' boats deck? Very nice closed gunnel.


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Hi Graham:
Thanks for posting that extensive outline. I didn't realize that Dick had such a piece, although he and I have certainly discussed the subject. Certainly helps to broaden out the discussion even more. It still does seem to me that there are conspicuous differences in the shape of the decal on my model (first in my thumbnails) and the one Dick ascribes to 1908 (first in his thumbnails), particularly in the leaf points and minor details in the chestnut. I would think that the size of the decal (whether for small paddle or full-size canoe deck) shouldn't really matter, but that may not hold true. The one from my model, to my eye, just seems less consistent with the others. Did the fire result in a modified design? I guess that's where my mind was going.
The 1913 catalogue (and subsequent) show a full size decal on a rounded deck (page 19). And the back page shows the 4 leaf representation. So it could be that early. Also, I don't see a Pat 1905 line on Dick's first decal, that would indicate it being prior to 1909. Roger McGregor didn't seem to put too much significance on fire changes when I asked him about it (had never heard anyone use the term pre-fire) It was the same workers, and year to year changes may have been just as significant. Hard to say I guess. The more info you can uncover the better!
Another Chestnut decal ?

Working on a 12' Chestnut which appears to have yet another Chestnut decal style. Canoe is original and believed to be from 1938. Decal has 2 shades of green on the leaves and is a water slide type. This brings up another question as most original Chestnut decals I see are the peel and stick type. When did they change from the water slide type?


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