Dating Old Town Paddles

Dave Nagel

This Year's Obsession
Maybe I should change that title, my wife might already be a little Jealous of the time I spend on my Canoe.:)

Any way I recently got a pair of Paddles and they have a red band on the Old Town decal which is still somewhat intact. I understand that The Canoes from 1940 to 1950 had a red stripe on the Old Town Decal. Does anyone know if this holds true for the paddles too? If so that would be cool because it would date them about the same age as my Canoe.

Another question is what did they make them out of? One is quite a bit lighter weight than the other. The color of the lighter weight one is darker. Tapping on this one it sounds like Cedar. The grain of the wood on the lighter one also looks tighter. Other than that they look identical in size and shape.

Any information is appreciated


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1960s Old Town paddles

We used Old Town beavertails on three long Canadian trips in the early 1960s. They were white ash with copper tip guards and extremely heavy (in comparison to today's laminated or composite paddles). They also had a huge blade area (7.75" x 27.5"), so could really grip the water.

The logos on our 1960s beavertails are the same as yours. That might help you to date them, depending on whether Old Town switched paddle logos designs the way it did canoe logos. Benson Gray should be able to answer that question.
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The short answer is no, it is not clear when the different paddle decals were used. The image linked below shows three of the most common styles. The one on the left with the small Old Town is still being used today. The middle one with the large Old Town is probably from the 1950s and 1960s. The right one in tan may be from the teens to the 1930s. There are also lots of Old Town paddles that have no decals.

Spruce and ash were the most common Old Town paddle woods in the 1950s and 1960s but maple, birds eye maple, and other woods were also listed in the catalogs over the years. They even made a few out of mahogany.



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Thank you all for your replies. That clears things up a little. Benson that is a nice collection of paddles.

I recently discovered a reference to "Small OT Name Plates" in the Old Town factory inventory from 1915 on page 208 as shown below. This may indicate when the tan decals were first used on paddles and other accessories since no prior inventory contained a reference like this.

The entries for name plates and transfer letters appear in nearly all of the inventories. It is particularly interesting that the "letters for OT Sign Canoe" and similar entries are shown on pages 140, 163, 185, and here for the inventories from 1912 to 1915. This may explain why the lettering was so consistent on most of the model canoes.



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Recently acquired a couple OT paddles, will post pics soon. They have green surroundings on the logo, the shafts are thicker then other paddles I have seen. Will post pics shortly.