Help on Rarity....

Tim Clancy

Curious about Wooden Canoes
Recently purchased a 16" square stern w/ sponsons shipped may 1924. OT #79962 Looking at investing some serious money in a full restoration, because in my mind it's a super rare version. By pie charts based on OT archives just 4% were square sterns and just 15% were sold w/ sponsons. Also the Outboard (the only reason to own a square stern) didn't get into any production of consequence until around 1910. So my thinking is that earlier OT canoes were less likely to be a square stern than say in the 1940's when outboards were much more common.

Any way to tell how many 16' square stern w/ sponson canoes were shipped in 1924? Any of the historians have any opinions of how many may have survived? Is it just a handful? Dozens? Hundreds? Anyone know when the first square stern was offered. I'm also a member of ACBS and amongst their thousands of members only a handful of OT from 1924 are listed and none are square sterns or have sponsons (from that year). There are only about 300 OTs listed by members and I know one member who has at least 3 and doesn't list any in her personally owned boats. So maybe some of the Mahogany crowd don't think non powered boats should be listed. Any help greatly appreciated. Tim Clancy lake Hopatcong NJ
Absolutely, I love this boat and it was exactly what I was looking for, for too may reasons to explain. The cost is not the over riding factor, I'm more interested in the historical significance and the rarer the more I will personally enjoy it. I collect all sorts of antiques and buy what I enjoy and even though I sometimes sell things off I never purchase anything w/ future value in mind. With older, rarer and historically significant things I believe that ultimately we never really own them, but are just the temporary care takers. In 15 years this boat will be 100 years old I want to help make sure it lasts another 100 after that. But I likely would not be willing to invest as much if it was a similar boat of a 1940 or 1950 vintage. TC
I agree with Peter. Don't get too hung up over "Rarity" or "Value". Enjoy it for what it is, a wooden canoe. I have a couple of "rare" canoes in my collection, but I got them because I liked them for the construction type, and not because they were a rare canoe. The age of my canoes wasn't even a factor in the purchase, nor do I feel it will ever be. I enjoy them for what they are, not when they are from.

I just finished a fairly lengthy response to your questions/comments on rarity, but it didn't show up after I sent, so am trying again. I have to agree with both Peter and Mark that decisions ought to be based more on enjoyment and pleasure than on 'rarity' and any expectation of return on investment.

Beyond that, I had gone on to say that one must be cautious in relying on pie chart info as a guide to numbers made, etc. The charts are, I believe, only statistical extrapolations based on a random survey of build card info. To get a really true picture, one has to do a visual, card-by-card search of the build records. The card info is hand written, not digitally recorded, so there is no simple 'ask the computer' answer. Recently, I did a search of about 180,000 cards looking for other info. I was surprised by the number of 'square stern' models which showed up. Because I was intrigued by your question about just how many 16' square sterns with sponsons were made in 1924, I did a quick review for you. However, I looked only at 899 cards from 79200-80099. I fear I may be the bearer of unpleasant news for you.

In short, I found 96 or 97 16' square sterns made around the same time as yours was turned out. That's just over 10% of production at that particular juncture. All seem to have come equipped with sponsons. Most were CS grade, with open spruce gunwales, birch decks and maple thwarts and seats. A few were AA grade, with open mahogany gunwales, mahogany decks. One even was equipped for sailing.

OT seems to have made them in batches, anywhere from three at a time up to 11. You can see this from consecutive serial numbers: 79261-79263; 70304-79306; 79311-79313; 79321-79332; 79453-79460; 79473-79480; 79589-79592; 79625-79628; 79686-79693; 79727-79733; 79798-79809; 79845-79855; 79921-79928 (card 79924 is illegible but likely a square stern); 79958-79968 (the group amongst which yours comes).

So, perhaps not quite as rare as you may have thought, but no reason not to preserve a fine old craft. How many others may have survived is anyone's guess. At least you have an opportunity to enjoy this one, and there are far worse ways to spend your money (at least that's what I tell my self when faced with the same predicament).

Good luck.


(I hope this response makes it through. My earlier one seems to have evaporated in cyber space).
Last edited:

Just to 'round out' the above information, and to more completely cover what was built in and around the OT 1924 production year, I went back and checked on the build records from 78300-79199 (the bunch just before those above), and from 80100-80999 (the group just after). The first group yielded another 68 16' square stern canoes, while the latter yielded 33 more. It is not possible to say whether all had sponsons, but certainly the vast majority (if not almost all) did. There were also a handful of 14' square sterns found, and one 15' version. I do know that the 14' length was very popular during other production periods, as I recall noticing many such records during my other search last month.

I'm afraid that your canoe seems to be but one of a couple hundred 16' square sterns produced around that time frame. Likely not as "super rare" as you had wished but, then, you were originally attracted to it for many other reasons aside from production numbers. And, there's little way of knowing how many of those are even still with us.

Roger, GREAT STUFF, I really appreciate it. If I'm reading it right it looks like there were around 200 +/- canoes like mine made/shipped in 1924. If they all survived (and they didn't) that's still rare in my mind, but I',m a newbie.

But in 1915 Ford turned out his one millionth Model T, I think we would all think a 1915 Model T is relatively scarce. But none of that has anything to do w/ why I'm going for what I call the Full Monte on the restoration. I'm just a history buff and serious collector of certain things, particularly antique fishing tackle.

Five years ago I bought my neighbor's house on Lake Hopatcong NJ and it came w/ a 2 story boat house that was built in 1928. Bud Abbott spent several summers living upstairs. That led to my first classic wooden boat, a 1947 22' Chris Craft Sportsman.

My intent w/ this canoe was to marry my first passion, old fishing tackle w/ my new passion, much bigger pieces of old wood that we throw in the lake. My Old Town will be boat house kept and I'll find an old Elto or Evinrude and hopefully get out a few times a year w/ my old fishing tackle and old canoe and motor and fish the way they did when my boat house was built. I may be a little eccentric, but I will find absolute joy in making that all happen.

Like I said earlier we really don't own these things once they've survived this long, we're just the current care takers of them. Hopefully we help preserve them. When I'm dead and gone, my wife's new boyfriend can decide what to do w/ all my toys. Just kidding.

But didn't everybody love the cover of the last issue of the WCHA mag. That classic canoe on top of that classic truck, that was priceless. That's what I'm going for, no expectations of making $$$ on my boat, was just trying to get a handle on what I have.

Is it rare, I guess that's relative. I live on the largest lake in the most populated state in the country and I'm not aware of one square stern canvass canoe on this lake. Yet there's seven 22' 1947 Chris Craft Sportsman. Not all are running right now, but that's still pretty extraordinary because I think there were only about 2,000 of that size and model made that year. Sorry for the rambling, but I've been known to do that. Roger, Thanks again.