Need serial numbers decoded

Brian Knowles

Curious about Wooden Canoes
Hi, I am just finishing restoration of Old Town Number 135397 , and am begining to work on 67104 and would like any info you could come up with. Thanks in advance. Brye
Hello, Brye--

Old Town canoe 135397 is an 18 foot AA grade Guide model with open mahogany gunwales and other mahogany trim (per AA grade) and fitted with a floor rack. It was painted dark green and shipped April 2, 1943 to Mr. Charles B. Park in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. Mr. Park is "superintendent" of something--- a camp? A prison? Perhaps only the canoe knows for sure...

Old Town canoe 67104 is a CS (common sense) grade Otca with Western red cedar planking, open spruce gunwales, 20 inch birch decks, and a keel-- it was painted dark green and shipped January 25, 1922 to Joseph A. Marks and Company in (can't read town well) Michigan. Following the canoe's color is something I can't read well... as though they put the wording "made in Japan", or something like that, on the canoe. A notation on the back states that Old Town received a letter in regard to this canoe from Frank B. Stone on 4-7-71.

Copies of the scans are attached below. I'll look at the catalogs from these years and add pictures of the canoes in another post.

If the specs don't match your canoes, we can search again.

These scans and several hundred thousand others were created with substantial grants from the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association (WCHA) and others as you probably know well. A description of the project to preserve these records is available at if you want more details. I hope that you will renew your membership to the WCHA so that services like this can continue. See to learn more about the WCHA and to renew.


  • 15002.jpg
    21.9 KB · Views: 304
  • 4167.jpg
    21.7 KB · Views: 303
  • 4168.jpg
    7.7 KB · Views: 311
from the catalogs...

Here are images (from the OT Catalog Collection available on CD from Dragonfly) of the two canoes above.


  • 1943 guide.jpg
    1943 guide.jpg
    215.7 KB · Views: 301
  • 1943 specs.gif
    1943 specs.gif
    144.3 KB · Views: 334
  • 1922 Otca.jpg
    1922 Otca.jpg
    222.8 KB · Views: 334
I Should Add...

The first and second images posted above are from the 1943 OT catalog, and the third image comes from the 1922.
That would be "oil in japan". It likely refers to this being an oil-based paint, the drying of which might be normally slow, but is accelerated with Japan drier (an organic solvent base containing metal salts such as cobalt which speed thr drying times of paints and varnishes).


Thanks for clarifying this, Michael.

It's interesting to speculate about the things we see on the build records...

Does it seem that the quick-drying agent was something they were experimenting with, in order to get the canoes out the door faster... or might this have been a "rush order"?
Japan colors are finely ground pigments in an oil-varnish medium. In use it would be diluted with oil (typically linseed oil). This is probably what the build card refers to.
Kathryn Klos said:
Hello, Brye--
Old Town canoe 67104 is a CS ..<snip>..shipped January 25, 1922 to Joseph A. Marks and Company in (can't read town well) Michigan.

Google can be a wonderful thing. I did a quick search on this name, and find Joseph A. Marks listed in the "Book of Detroiters, 1914". It appears he was in the hardware business. Tom McCloud
I think "Japan color" is probably correct... why would anyone specifically remark on the addition of Japan drier? That stuck in my mind and didn't think of pigments.