Need help trying to find out what my canoe is worth?


Curious about Wooden Canoes
I have a wood-and-canvas canoe that was built by a guy named Joe Seliga, out of Ely, Minnesota. It's rather a special canoe, and here's why: It was originally built by Joe Seliga in 1979. I used it on three, month-long trips to Canada (the Seal River, the Albany, and the Berens and Pigeon Rivers), and frankly, it got a little beat up, especially on the Seal River trip. A few cracked ribs, a few cracked planks, lots of scratched paint, you get the picture. In 1988, I moved to Florida and had to store the canoe outside, which was bad because some kind of worm pretty much ate most of the gunwales. Now for the good news: about 1998, the badly beat-up canoe was taken back to Ely, taken back to Joe Seliga's shop, and had her completely and totally rebuilt by Joe himself, a complete restoration. Since the restoration, the canoe has never been used, just sitting in storage, virgin and pristine. So here's what I got: I have a museum-quality, near mint-condition wood-and-canvas Seliga canoe. It looks as though it just rolled out of Joe's workshop. Gorgeous!!! She always takes my breath away every time I see her. Anyway, I'm looking for input as to what she's worth, both for insurance reasons, in case the barn I have her stored in burns down (knock on wood, no pun), and also because I might be looking to eventualy sell her as I obviously have little use for her, and just I hate seeing her all lonely. The only basis of comparison I have is a wood and fiberglass canoe I saw in an outdoor store with a $5000 price tag on it. I assume my Seliga is worth more, but I have no idea. Any input anyone has would be appreciated.
Last edited:
I'll stick my neck out.

Well, I think $5,000.00 would be a good number for insurance purposes. Joe's canoes are highly favored. You never really know what it sells for til after it's sold. I rarely see ebay canoes sold at those prices unless it is very special. And yours is. the wood and 'glass canoe you saw at the Outdoor store for $5,000 could have been an OT rib/plank covered in 'glass. I know of one at a store near me similar. It's been there for years.

I suggest a review of the prices found here in the classifieds AND keep an eye on ebay for a few months.

Once in a awhile you will hear of a $1500.00 canoe selling for a hundred bucks. And then again the same canoe may sell to an Asian industrailist for $15,000.!! And Army Surplus Harley's are going for $50.00 still in the crate.

I thought my '71 Karman Ghia was worth $7500. I found out it was really worth $5600, AFTER the auction ended.

With neck still stuck out I'll share my own personal rule of thumb.
Basket case canoe: $Free- $200.
Restorable, not too bad: $200 - $500
Needs help but Floats: $500-$700
Useable as is more or less: $700 - $1,000
Needs nothing, daily driver, good shape or better: $1,000 - $2,000
Original/Well known maker/ and very nice/no flaws: $2,000 - $3,500
Special/rare: $3,500 and up.

That's my two cent ramble.

Please post the S/N so I can add it to the Seliga Build Record. And if you could, who did you get it from, I don't see your name as an original purchaser.

The S/N should be of the form 81 4xx yy, where the 4xx is the canoe number, the canoes built in 1981 are from 434 to 448, and the yy is the month built and could be from 1 to 12, Joe built 14 canoes in '81.

As for value, it is based on the condition of your canoe, and it sounds like your's is in nice condition. It would help to see pics of the canoe but with out seeing any......a used '81 canoe even if it's been rebuilt/restored is NOT a NEW unused canoe, and I would expect the value to be a bit lower then a new unused.

If the canoe you saw was the Seliga listed at Piragis, my understanding was that was a new, unused canoe. If I have my S/N's correct, it was S/N 97 625 7, meaning it was built in 1997, and the owner was an older friend of Joe's who never used it. It was listed both at Piragia and on this site for $5000 and that's what it sold for, after 1-2 months of being listed. (If the Piragis canoe is not the canoe you were refering to, it would be the best comparision I know of off hand.)

I would expect that your's is worth somewhere in the $4000 to $5000 range, but with the understanding that something is worth what somebody is willing to pay. With the right buyer, who knows????

And yes, post some pics. And congrates on having a great canoe.

Great input, gimmee more

Great info so far. Thanks Benson, for the link.

I wanted to post pics here on WCHA, but I'm having a stupid day, even with the FAQ's. (pointers anyone?) Anybody that wants to see the boat now though, you can find it here: 'brand-new' 30-year-old Seliga canoe

To Dan Lindberg, the canoe's S/N is 7941710-17, so I guess she was born in 1979, and was also Joe's 17th canoe (really???, correct me if wrong). There's also one photo of the S/N at the above link. The original purchaser was George Flora, and he passed it on to me, John Flora. I would have to agree, this canoe technically falls into the 'rebuilt, unused' category, but looking at her you'd swear she was new, possibly because she was so badlt trashed after three whitewater trips and the Florida worms, that she had to be nearly totally taken apart before being put back together. Her only flaws would be a few minor scratches from being moved three times since the refurb.

Dave, sounds like we saw the same type canoe--the one in the store near me hasn't sold yet either.
Thanks Peter, for posting those pics. What was the trick I was missing, if you care to share. FAQ's were a dead end, or I'm just a bonehead.
Hey, got a link to that Wooden Canoe Market Place you mentioned??? Googling it took me to Don Robertson's Marine Marketplace.

Thanks for the info, I do see your father listed as the original owner.
It was ordered on 10/19/79 and picked up on 12/8/79, it has 3.5" White Cedar planking. It would have had the 3rd style of decal Joe used, the dark green one.

Peter deciphered the S/N correctly, it's canoe number 417, and is the 358th canoe/boat that Joe built. (The canoe number and actual number has an offset.) Joe was working on actual canoe number 617 when he died, so yours is about in the middle of his building.

Do you have any pics of what it looked like originally? Can you describe the original deck shape? It should have had a deck with a smooth curve, (like a Chestnut) but Joe never liked that shape, and replaced them with heart shaped decks when ever he could.

Yours does look very nice, but even with the rebuild, the wood (planking and ribs) look old and show some use. A like new, unused canoe will have very bright, like new wood. I attached a pic of the Dean's Seliga that while it doesn't show it very well, notice that the wood is very bright.

Oh, saw the pics again, yours looks like it has the "high" end, modeled after the Morris end shape. Joe had at least 2 end shapes, a low guide style and a higher, less pulled back style.



  • Dean Seliga.jpg
    Dean Seliga.jpg
    112.2 KB · Views: 464
Last edited:
Some answers from Piragis Northwood Co.

Hey guys, I found that 'brand-new' Seliga canoe on the Piragis website. It said call for price, but I just emailed them and got in contact with Steve Piragis, asking him about the price. I'll copy and paste the return email, here it is, verbatim:

Hi John,

That was a pretty old newsletter. WE sold that one right away for $7000. I do have another that is being refurbished right now. It is getting new canvas and new outer gunwales and cleaned up. It will sell for about the same price. Its from 1977. If you are interested and would like to chose a color let me know.


Steve Piragis
Piragis Northwoods Company
105 N. Central Ave
Ely, Mn 55731

So there it is. The first canoe was "new" ( ie never used) and sold for seven grand, and an upcoming refurb on a canoe two tears older than mine, a refurb which unlike mine was not done by Joe himself, is expected to sell for about the same price. Weird, so after my house, the most valuable thing I currently own is my Seliga. Still trying to wrap my head around that. It's a little like being on the Antiques Roadshow.

Thanks for posting your communication with Steve, very interesting.

If that one was indeed the canoe I thought it was, (the same one as one the WCHA listing) Piragis takes quite a cut, $2000 for listing and selling a canoe.

FWIW, that's the highest priced Seliga I've heard of so far, by a fair amount.

I would also agree the prices on Joe's canoe are only going to go up, as they are very desirable and very limited in supply.

Another comment, Piragis actively advertises for used Seliga's in the local paper, with the appearant intent to rework and sell for a profit, and has found and passed through 3 or 4 I've heard about. (I wasn't sure till now, I was hoping it was for personal use. Steve asked me if I knew someone who could repair/reskin the one he mentioned.)

Also note that Piragis is "likely" the highest price outfitter in town, and appears to cater to folks willing to spend money on the latest gear. He usually has 1 or 2 restored W/C hanging in the store for sale, always at premium prices. It seems like they often hang a long time before selling.
Seliga's may be an exception. :)

BTW, the last canoes Joe sold were in the $4k range, so they are definitely increasing in value.


Thanks for posting the links.
I hadn't seen that canoe on Piragis's site before, it's a different one then the one I was thinking of. It is also a new old canoe, from 1977. And it shows the curved deck and dark green decal, additional data for the built log. I sent Steve P a message asking for info.

And yours is still a very nice looking canoe. :)

I recently got a message form someone "looking" for a Seliga, and I've linked them your web site. Don't know if they will contact you, not sure the $$ they plan to spend, but at least they should look.

Good luck in selling your Seliga,
New Seliga's being built???

Does anyone know if Camp Widjiwagan is planning to build new canoe's on Joe's forms?? Possibly as a fundraiser for the camp? I know that they wouldn't even come close to an original, but those of us who missed out or dosn't have 7K to spend it could be a nice way to keep the legacy going.

I just got a "blurp" from Widji, and in it, they said they (the campers under surpervision) built 2 canoes off the form last year. They didn't say where they went but I suspect into their fleet.

In the past they indicated they would not build for resale, but as time goes on, who knows.

Also note that they are careful to say that these canoes are NOT Seligas, as (in their words) only canoe built by Joe are Seligas.

Seliga re-born today

Just finished this 1971 Seliga for a customer today.
It was cool to work on. I re-read the book about Joe while I was restoring it.
Wish I could have met him.


  • seliga1.jpg
    718.3 KB · Views: 373
  • seliga2.jpg
    411 KB · Views: 387
  • seliga3.jpg
    383.4 KB · Views: 362
widji Canoes

I think it is great that his tools are going to good use. Thank you for the information. My malachi green Otca will have to satisfy.:)