Out of the ordinary

Roger Young

display sample collector
I realize most folks here are primarily interested in historic wood/canvas or all wood canoes of North American manufacture. However, the rich heritage of wooden canoes reaches around the World, and has existed for centuries. As well as those interesting OT/Kennebec/Peterborough/Chestnut/etc. specimens which pop up around the countryside, occasionally other historic, rare and spectacular things become available. I recently discovered one which others might like to know about.

At an up-coming Bonham's auction in San Francisco on Feb, 12th are a small number of native-made models from the South Pacific. One, in particular, is so rare that examples are hardly ever seen outside major museums. See lot 4054 which can be found at: www.bonhams.com/cgi-bin/public.sh/p...ItemNo=4487707&iSaleNo=17781&iSaleSectionNo=1.

This piece is incorrectly described in the sale catalogue as being a "wood and shell inlay canoe from the Solomon Islands". It is, in fact, not from the Solomons, but from Manihiki, in the Cook Island chain, and is described in the excellent ethnographic text book "Canoes of Oceania" by Haddon & Hornell (published by Bishop Museum, Honolulu) as one of the rarest such canoe forms known. It appears to be one-half of a double-hulled sailing canoe, such as are shown below. It is possible that it could be part of a single hull outrigger type (missing the outrigger), but is more likely a remnant of a double canoe.

I have no connection with this sale in any way; I am fortunate enough to own a similar item. Other Oceanic collectors will know just how scarce these are. It might prove to be a worthy consideration for anyone interested in this area of the World. It may be many years before another comes along.

NOTE: the Bonham's item comprises a single hull only, with no other parts, but what is there looks to be excellent. I would have posted their catalogue photo here but did not want to infringe their copyright, so have used other, similar examples.


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The canoe model remnant mentioned in the above post sold earlier today, with a correction notice in the catalogue identifying it as being from Manihiki. Originally estimated to go for $1000 to $1500, it actually wound up at $4000, plus 22% buyer's premium, for a total of $4880, before applicable sales tax. A rare addition to someone's collection. Photo below.


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