Orvis Miniature Canoe


Fishing Guide
I have been offered a miniature canoe that is said to have come from Orvis around 20 -25 years ago. It is two foot in length, with a center beam of 4.75 inches. It comes with a set of paddles approx. 6.5" long and a stand which can be hung on a wall or used on a table. The man thinks he payed between $50 - $100 back when he bought it. It does not have anything written on it.

Can anybody authenticate it as being from Orvis? I just need some background to try and determine its worth. Sorry but I don't have a picture.
I can't authenticate this and never recall seeing a model canoe from Orvis in the past 25 years. Two feet long is relatively small for model canoes so my guess is that it is probably one of the Asian models like the one shown at https://www.ebay.com/itm/173557497184 for example. These are frequently listed inaccurately as vintage Old Towns like the one at https://www.ebay.com/itm/123386150910 for much higher prices. Don't be fooled and post some pictures if you can. Good luck,

I have to second and reinforce everything Benson has said. A sample model measuring about 2 feet in length is extremely unusual for an authentic factory piece - most of those are between 4' and 8'; the shortest I have ever come across is 30" (personal models made by old John Stephenson in the 1870's, or thereabouts), and a couple of 36" Peterborough Canoe Co. items from ca. 1900. Other factory samples have run anywhere from 42" on up. However, beyond the world of recognized, early, authentic, N. American canoe factory display samples, which are usually of substantial value as rare antiques, there are many forms of miniature canoe models. Some of these are exquisitely well made items built by professional modellers such as Chris Pearson and others; those are highly prized and can also carry a sizeable price tag. Beyond that come more ordinary items, some quite competently made, but selling relatively inexpensively. Nearer the bottom are imported, mass-produced miniatures, replicas and toy canoes, assembled by the thousands, fairly cheaply made of balsa, cloth covering, mesh seats. Photos are essential before anyone can begin to tell you what you may have, and for verification. There are lots of imported replicas floating around these days with widely exaggerated claims as to origin; it is easy to be misled and confused.
Just as a further comment to the above, most of the 2' items I have seen over the years that come with a stand and two paddles (usually with bent grips) are imported Asian models of the cheaply made variety. They often sell anywhere from about $25 on up. I have seen cases where scammers, or those who simply didn't know, made claims that these were authentic early factory antiques and passed them off for high prices - over $2,000 in one case. Here are some photos of the typical Asian miniature.


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A bit more clarification -- The second link that Benson gives above is for an eBay listing that has expired -- BUT eBay posted a different listing for a model that is built by the Little Bear Canoe Company in Milo, Maine -- a legitimate outfit building canoes and models.

When an eBay auction is over, eBay will often say "We found something similar" and post a current listing that is more or less similar -- in this case, not very similar at all.

The prices on their website for a 5' model are $1300 and up; the eBay auction has a reserve price that has not been met. While Little Bear calls its 5' model in the eBay listing a "salesman's sample" they do not assert that their models are antique or built by anyone other than them. They do say on their website -- "THIS IS OUR 5' CANVAS CANOE MODEL. EACH OF MY CANOES ARE BUILT THE SAME WAY OLD TOWN CANOES BUILT THEM YEARS AGO AND STILL BUILDS THEM TODAY. So they are not collectible antiques, but neither are they cheap Asian imports.

Their website is >http://www.littlebearcanoes.com/forsale.html>

As always on eBay, and most anywhere else -- caveat emptor!

Here are some pictures of this canoe. As a matter of correction it is 27 inches in length, with abeam of 4.75 inches. It has absolutely no markings on it anywhere. Again it was reportedly purchased from Orvis 20 to 25 years ago, but I see no indication that Orvis had anything to do with tis model canoe. Thanks for taking the time to enlighten me on this.

Model Canoe (1 of 1).jpg PA050368.JPG PA050367.JPG PA050366.JPG
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To owlsroost:
I have been away from the Forum for several weeks, so have only just now seen your photos. Apologies for the late response.

Yes, indeed, the photos of your model establish that it is the same product as is depicted in all of the photos I posted. These are imported pieces from China. Over the past 25 or so years, large numbers of them have flooded flea markets and online auctions across the US. There are other variations; one, in particular, has almost square bilges (straight sides and a flat bottom, almost like a row boat). They are all cheaply-made, mass-produced items, put together from light balsa-type wood, cloth coverings and woven seats. Proper early American factory samples usually are made from the same materials as were used in making the full-size canoes they emulate. My first photo shows an example of the Chinese imports, along with the box in which they are often sold. My other pics show similar canoes from the same Chinese source, except that they have been 'done over' by someone trying to make them look like something else - birch bark, an old 'factory' sample, even a 'west coast' canoe with ersatz totemic designs. The imagination of the scammer knows no bounds when it comes to trying to deceive. Some of these items have brought thousands of dollars in auctions where they were offered, very inaccurately, as "authentic" Native American or early factory salesman's samples. In one case, at least, the deception was uncovered by the innocent bidder and the item was returned; his purchase money (approx. $2,500) was later grudgingly returned; others have not been so lucky.

The Chinese import pieces are cute little decorative things, relatively inexpensive (at $25 -$50) and pleasant to look at, if all you want is something that represents a canoe. But, they are not old, not authentic in terms of any connection to early US or Canadian canoe-making history, and should not be thought of as a 'salesman's sample' or historic factory 'display model'. Simply put, they are really imported miniature replicas, and often of dubious quality.