Old Town "salesman sample"


LOVES Wooden Canoes
Posting this for posterity:

This 48" model, described as a salesman's sample from the estate of John Woods of St. Louis, was auctioned off - along with many other pieces - in late 2009 through James D. Julia Auctioneers.

The hammer came down at $18,400 (est. had been $5K-$10K). Not bad.


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I attended this auction but did not bid. Does anyone know who got it? It appears to have originally been blue and then repainted green. Some more detailed pictures are attached below.



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Benson, The canoe was bought by a prominent Maine Antique dealer. Likely the actual sale price was even higher. The color difference I think you see is from chipped off varnish not actually blue paint.

Robert P. Ross
Ross Bros.
PO Box 60277
Florence, MA 01062

The canoe was bought by Jeff Cherry of Cherry Gallery, located in Damariscotta, ME. The actual winning bid price was $16,000, plus 15% 'buyer's premium', for a grand total of $18,400. I don't believe other sales tax was applicable in this case, but could be wrong. The auction was held by James Julia, Fairfield, ME. This makes the third sale of a 4' OT sample canoe totalling over $18,000. The other two were also sold in sales where Jim Julia was the auctioneer, but took place at Guyette & Schmidt decoy auctions held outside Chicago, in April 2002 and 2005. I was present at both earlier sales.

I have just returned from this year's decoy auction and the accompanying table show of 'outdoor/sporting collectibles'. No canoes in the auction, but a large number were seen in the show. Jeff Cherry was present for the show, for the first time. I asked whether the canoe he purchased could possibly have been over-painted and he said that he believed it had not, that all was original. He had with him yet another, later OT 4' sample which he offered for sale from his room, and at another Chicago-area show he had just attended. The asking price was $22,000. It was in near mint condition, likely from the 1930's (his belief), or possibly early '40's (a bit of leeway, from me).

There was also a carefully restored 5' Kennebec display sample from 1916 offered at the decoy show - $14,500. In both instances, the prices were "somewhat negotiable" according to the sellers (likely in the 10% range). Also seen was a 6' model of a "courting canoe" made in the early 1990's by Kevin Martin for Guy Gillette. It sold for close to the published price at which Kevin makes them at order ($2,500) with many people asking why it went so cheaply in comparison; seems they were quite prepared to pay more.

Following the decoy auction, Jim Julia toured the 'table show' in the nearby Mega Center, stopped to inspect the canoes, and had many enthusiastic comments.

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Let me clarify my earlier comment about repainting. The current green paint on this model was probably applied at the factory many years ago. However, it appears to have been put on top of a layer of blue paint which is now starting to show through in some places. The pictures below probably illustrate this better than I can explain it. It is even more obvious if you see it in person.



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Neat - thanks for the extra photos, Benson. And Roger, I didn't realize I was missing all kinds of neat decoy and model canoe shows around here... I've got to get on the stick!
The show is called "The National Antique Decoy Show" and is put on by the Midwest Decoy Collectors Association. This was the 45th annual show. It is held the third full week in April each year at Pheasant Run Resort, St. Charles, IL, about 45 minutes west of Chicago.

Show participants often begin arriving as early as Monday, even though the main auction is on Thursday and Friday. Dealers and collectors bring thousands of items, and display them in their rooms for several days. The Resort has 500 or so rooms sprawled out in several wings. Walk down any corridor and you will find many room doors open with items laid out on beds, tables, etc. It's an open invitation to walk in and barter. Room-to-room trading and selling goes on day and night - antique waterfowl, fishing gear, canoes, hunting equipment, etc., etc.

On Friday afternoon/evening and all day Saturday, there is a 'table' show in the adjoining 'Mega Center', a large arena-like building. Dealers fill over 400 rented tables with 30-40,000 decoys and other items. The range is mind boggling. I had two salesman's sample canoes along with 20 other, smaller native-made pieces from N. America and around the world, along with some sample paddles and a few other bits.

Lots of fun, and well worth a visit sometime. If anyone wants more detailed info, pm me and I'll fill you in further.

I thought I would chime in here. Its interesting about the paint colors under the chips on the Old town salesman model. I see it often on canoes that I am restoring that look like they have the original paint job. I think it may be the original paint job on these. The factory worker may have used up some blue paint under the finish coats. Or maybe someone figured that the blue might bring out a deeper green when done.
Jeeze my model canoes are inexpensive. Anyone want one built? I had someone asking quite a few questions about them around the time of that show. Likely he was thinking of buying Guy"s canoe.
Kevin Martin


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