Old Town side decals


Curious about Wooden Canoes
When did Old Town start putting script decals on the sides below gunwales?

Which decal styles & colours were used when?

Looking through OT catalog pages I don’t see them showing up until 1958-59, and then it looks like several styles/colours through the 1960-90’s.

Are reproduction Old Town side decals available other than the current white ones from Old Town?

Thanks, Fred
The first Old Town side decals appeared in the late 1950s. These were red with a reflective backing as shown at http://forums.wcha.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=2242&d=1162866417 but the metallic foil background does not scan well. The black and blue ones as shown at http://forums.wcha.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=2243&d=1162866417 were used in the 1960s and 1970s. I have originals of each of these styles and would be willing to provide a high quality scan if you want to get them reproduced. I don't know of anyone who is selling reproductions of these. Let me know if you have any other questions.



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Thanks Benson,

Yes, if you could provide scans I will look into having the decals reproduced and share results.

I bought some decals from Old Town about 20 years ago but they were 1980s styles.

Perhaps no side decal might look cleaner.

You may want to work out the reproduction details first and your printer will probably specify the resolution in dots per inch (dpi), file format (TIF, PS, etc.), and delivery option (HTTP, FTP, CD, other) which they perfer. I would also like at least one copy of the reproduction in exchange for each scan. Let me know how you want to proceed.

Early Old Town Hull Decals

I recently finished a 1960's (1968) OTCA for a friend. One of her very distinct memories of the canoe was the red, "Old Town" decals on the sides of the hull. With a great deal of help from Benson, I had a local graphics company reproduce the decal on vinyl. As mentioned above, the graphics folks weren't able to reproduce the metallic silver, but used a metallic gray color. The exact shade of red was also difficult to identify, but I went with a shade close to the bright red of the Old Town deck decal of the period. The font is very close, but maybe the "L" in Old should not be connected to the "O". Benson may be able to elaborate further on the period of time that these were used, but based on this discussion above, maybe late 1950's to late 1960's? I checked the build record on this canoe, and it was built in early 1968.

The decals went on the restored hull very nicely and appear durable. I have one on my car window right now to see how it holds up to the elements. So far, so good and it has been exposed for a month. Anyway, the graphics folks did the design and have retained it. They can easily make reproductions now. I have contacted the WCHA store about making them available here. If you have any questions or an immediate need for these decals, let me know.




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I have a used original decal like that. I peeled it off a 1963 Trapper 20+ years ago and stuck it on a scrap bit of aluminum. It's around here somewhere, I recall the colors were pretty vibrant. I can hunt it down if wanted.
For what it's worth - I bought a 17' OTCA new in May of 1964. I still have it and it has been untouched since that day, and there is/was no decal of any kind on the hull. The usual decal on the deck, yes, but nothing else. Al D
The side decals did not start appearing regularly until the very late 1960s and they were usually the ones with the black letters and blue outline. The 1964 catalog page for wooden canoes attached below only has a single red one in the lower right corner (which can be very hard to see on the red canoe). The postcard version of that image at http://www.wcha.org/catalogs/old-town/postcard/fish-net.gif shows it better.



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Good to know, Benson. I've had customers requesting the side decal on much older canoes...didn't think it was appropriate for the time.... My guess was right, but they got their decals....!
The side decals were probably a great idea for brand recognition purposes. I got many looks and friendly gestures on my trip up I 95 to deliver the canoe.

My impression when applying the decals was that the decals appeared to be a tad bit too small, but then again, it was a 18 foot canoe. It occurred to me that maybe the dealer had added them originally, but I think there are plenty of examples of factory application.


Old Town donated two 18' Guides to a Barren Grounds trip we took in 1966. They arrived with stenciled names amidships. Many years later Benson Gray located the original stencil at Old Town and sent it to me. The green Guide had been restored in the meantime and I had a local sign painter gold-leaf it on the hull.

Photos: Lake Athabasca 1966 and northern California 2003:


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I've had customers requesting the side decal on much older canoes...didn't think it was appropriate for the time.... My guess was right, but they got their decals....!

The customer may always be right but some are more right than others. It always seems strange when I see new decals which are not correct for the period on a very old canoe.

When I read through this thread yesterday, particularly your post #2, above, I was left wondering where to accurately 'time sequence' the gold-with-black-outline script decal that appeared on the first OT 4' sample model I once owned (see below). This was always assumed to be from the late '40's or early '50's, according to when the original owner also purchased a full-size 15' canoe for his wife. He was V-P of a large outfitter and sporting goods retailer, particularly a maker/seller of fishing gear. I have included a photo of the bow decal as well. Should I estimate its date closer to the end of the '50's? Or is it possible there were earlier versions? It seems that the decal also had an irregular outline, not rectangular in shape.


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Should I estimate its date closer to the end of the '50's? Or is it possible there were earlier versions? It seems that the decal also had an irregular outline, not rectangular in shape.

I believe that the gold with black outline waterslide decals were used before the red reflective ones and primarily on boats. They were first pictured in the 1950 catalog as shown below. The other images show the decals on a boat from 1955 so a mid-1950s estimate might be a more accurate.



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