Kennebec model on eBay -NOT

Roger Young

display sample collector
It never ceases to amaze me that there are vendors who are quite prepared to throw any piece of 'schlock' onto the market as long as they think there is a good story to 'boost' it with, and someone naive enough to bid on it. Case in point:

This is a 30" wooden dugout, likely mass-produced toy canoe model, to which someone has added the name "Kennebec Boat and Canoe Co."; the present owner is currently offering it on eBay as a display advertising piece used on behalf of Kennebec. He or she is careful to disclaim knowledge of its exact age, and obviously doesn't know much about Kennebec history either. Several questions should leap to the mind of any would-be bidder.

Why would a company which prided itself on making some of America's finest hand-made, carefully crafted wood/canvas canoes, with steam bent ribs, planking, decks, etc., ever want to employ a simplistic machine-made dugout of very ordinary looks as an example of its finest work? Really, now, does anyone serious about being in business actually use a piece of ordinary crap as a selling tool to persuade a potential customer about its high quality workmanship?

Kennebec disappeared from business about 60-odd years ago. Why does the dugout and the paint on its side look so new and fresh? Perhaps because some 'creative type', maybe even a scammer (Heaven forbid!), conjured up a money-making project in his/her warped little imagination just a short while ago. The style of the trade name is 'similar' to the proper thing, but on close inspection, is really quite crude and inaccurate. At least, in my opinion. And that's what I told a previous seller of this piece a year or so ago, when it was being offered in the Chicago area. Seems that it has moved on to Minnesota, now, but that doesn't change the basic fact that this thing is far from authentic. Some others may have a different opinion; however, I will not be a bidder. I'm sure others can come up with other questions about its origin and parentage.

Just thought I'd flag this for others to note. I see that there has been one bidder willing to risk his money. Ah, well, that's why they invented the phrase 'caveat emptor'.

Last edited:
Thanks for your comments, Roger. If I were selling this item I would also select photos that show no detail whatsoever.

I should maybe mention that I have been in touch with this eBay vendor twice to explain that this is not an authentic Kennebec advertising piece, and have pointed out what is incorrect about it, including sending along several photos showing different examples of the real thing. I received one response stating that my comments "would be considered". However, the listing remains up and unaltered; the vendor maintains that this is a vintage piece of advertising on behalf of the company. I guess that can be taken as an indication of the reliability, veracity and intent of the vendor. It is something more than an honest difference of opinion, obviously.
Kenlet0001.jpgken 006.jpgKennebec A.jpgGKen1.jpgI would agree with your observation Benson. That was one of the things I pointed out to the seller. None of the dozen or so Kennebec display or advertising models that I have personally seen has ever had lettering on its side similar to the way it appears on catalog covers. To demonstrate, I am attaching a photo of the lettering on the suspect dugout claiming to be by Kennebec, and three actual Kennebec display models, one from the 1920's with faded block lettering on the bow (the model in the left background of the photo of two canoes) and two with lettering along their sides (both believed to be from 1916). While the lettering on one model was restored, it was a very faithful renewal of the original. The last photo is of a Kennebec display sample believed to be in fully original paint.
Here is another example of the simple block lettering that Kennebec used on the bows of its early models that Roger describes. As Benson pointed out the lettering on the dugout on EBay is derived from print copy and was not used on real models.Salesman Model 002 (Small).jpg
Last edited:
It is interesting that most of the early canoe models from various manufacturers were identified with simple block lettering. Companies today often go to great lengths to make sure that a single, identical logo is used in all marketing and advertising materials. The old english script version of the Old Town name was not even used consistently on the cover of their own catalogs until after 1952 as shown at for example.

Soon we will see if this model draws any last minute bids.

Last edited:
I don't know I wouldn't be so fast to judge on this one. Maybe it presents differently in person. I would like to say the I have seen several Kennebec wooden half models including a couple of signs. Old Town had mass-produced tourist items to. Like Benson said uniform branding in a modern concept.


  • photo-27.JPG
    33.9 KB · Views: 482