Rushton model canoe


Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes
I just talked to a bamboo rod collector who told me of an auction last year that I think was in NH. A small Rushton model canoe went on the block and was the most sought after item there and eventually sold for $34,500.
Wow! I thought others may like to know. Kevin
Yes, the Holy Grail of Salesman Samples and thought never to have existed.

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


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Who thought something like this never existed? It stands to reason, that Rushton being the marketing genius that he was, would have created one or more display models for trade shows. I just recently missed out on a piece of planking stock that had been stamped with advertising for the Columbian exhibition. That is just a small thing. There have to be more Rushton display models out there.
Me for one and many of my colleagues, I searched for over 20 years. I have had several salesman sample canoes over the years but never a Rushton. We always thought what if… It turns out the previous owner did write to the Adirondack Museum about this one but it wasn’t taken very seriously. I challenge you to find another. No mention of this one in previous text or photographs. There are several plug models at The Clayton Museum from The Colombian Exposition but none like this.

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


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All I can say is


to both that it exists and the price it went for.

That's so far out/above a canoe collector league that I didn't even know that league existed.

Chris, that makes your recent find a bargain. :)


who tries to keep his average project price in the 200-300 range,
and the most I ever paid IIRC was $3300
As a model canoe collector, I had heard stories of this sale, but never seen them in print. I'm obliged to Kevin for raising it, and to Benson for pointing out the actual print media in which the account of the sale is written up.

John Summers, former Curator at the Clayton Antique Boat Museum has spoken before of those 'plug' models shown in Robert's photos. There were some unconfirmed rumors of an actual Rushton model or two, but nothing concrete that I had ever come across in any research. Whether this one qualifies as a 'canoe' sample is open to some debate. Most, I think, would categorize it as an Adirondack guide boat or St. Lawrence skiff more than a canoe, per se. But not to quibble; it is simply a magnificent piece. One any collector would salivate over, whether or not he/she has money enough to purchase.

The final auction price is not really all that surprising, given its rarity and esteemed maker. I am aware of a few other very early models by J S Stephenson, Rice Lake and Peterborough that have been carefully appraised at values approaching the above-reported auction level for insurance replacement purposes. These likely are as old as the Rushton, with the Stephenson likely being the earliest of them all. Most authentic factory sample/display canoes found today will readily outsell their full-size cousins by a factor of 3 or 4 times without too much trouble. The finest of the Old Town samples have routinely been bringing over $18,000 at auction since 2002.

Hell, I can't even find a real Rushton canoe out in my neck of the woods. You would think that with the boating history at Lake Tahoe that a few Rushton canoes would have made it into some of the big lodges up there, but there is no record of any having existed. The lodges (the big ones like the Thunderbird) have well documented histories, and few of them even had canoes. Tahoe seems to have been created for the power boater. Big motors and mahogany rule the day up there.

Thanks for sharing these photo's.
What else do you know about this model? Where was it for the last 110+ years?
Are the photo's you posted available as full sized images? They are going to have to substitute for the having the real thing.

Talk about eye candy for Rushton buffs!
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Dear MGC,

I wrote about this 2 years ago when we were having the Willits Salesman Sample Paddle debate.

"How about the record setting J. H. Rushton Sample at $40, 000. ? I sure would like to talk to Atwood Manley about that one; it wasn’t in his book either. Rare fifty-two inch advertising model sold at auction 07, discovered in a tags sale in Canton, NY. Things rock our world every day and that what keeps me getting out of bed in the morning.


Robert P. Ross
Ross Bros. "

Yes it was bought at a garage sale right where it hailed from. Sold a short time later at an Antique show on the North Shore. I believe in Marble Head Massachusetts purchased the last owners who sold it at auction. It was on their mantle for about 30 thirty years. It had a note in it from the Adirondack Museum tucked inside. The new owner was quite pleased to buy it. The first thing he did was to wash 100 years of dust and Grime off it. He told me he had always admired these little models. So this time he just held his hand up till he won it. If you are going to own one you might as well own the best.

By the way it was poorly advertised as St Laurence skiff I think the presale estimate was around $5000-$8000.

Lot # 73 -Rare fifty-two inch advertising model of a St. Lawrence skiff, stenciled and signed "J.H. Rushton, Boats and Canoes, Canton, NY", unique in boating Americana, Research indicates this model was possibly made as a display for Abercrombe and Fitch prior to 1906, or for a display at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. (see literature)

(Click on thumbnail to enlarge photo)

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


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