Seeking information

We have a canoe that has been in my husband's family since the 1920's.It has a metal tag that says" Morris Canoes Sold by The H&D Folsom Arms Co. 314 Broadway New York 3649" Would this be a Morris canoe made in Maine? It is about 14' in length. We were thinking of selling it, but are having second thoughts. I can try to send pictures. Any information would be appreciated.
 

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14' Morris

A 14' Morris in apparently fine condition, WOW!!!!!!!!! Don't sell it without doing more research. If you decide to sell it sell it to me!

R.C.
 
Great looking canoe,

Definately a Morris.

I'm wondering if you measured from the top tip of the deck to the other tip and not the full outside length of the curve of the bow and stern. I would like a 14' Morris would be a rare canoe. I don't recall they made one that short.

Does it still have a metal tag on the front stem with the Morris serial number? I wonder if the 3649 was the Morris serial number and they put it on their tag as well.

I'm sure there are a number of us that would love to add your canoe to our collection.
 
Morris didn't make a 14 footer, so this one is likely 15 feet... still not a common size (anything below 16 feet is unusual, as far as what's been entered into our Morris database). The Morris 15 footer had one thwart. Morris also made a 13 footer and a 12 footer. We have a 12 footer-- it's a bit tubby but cute.

Is there a serial number tag on the stem, or on the left inwale, just above the first full rib? If so, you can determine the approximate age of the canoe. The heart deck isn't seen as often as the curved deck in the last 5 years of production (1915-1920).

YouTube videos on the Morris can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAz-rspieqE and at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YN462MWTABc

The videos may answer some questions.

Kathy
 
I haven't seen that particular Folsom Arms medallion... it appears older than others and maybe the number on it is the Morris serial number. If so, the canoe may also have the oval serial number plate on the inwale, or evidence that it was once there. A 3XXX Morris possibly dates from 1905.
 
One more really important question for our research.... how many cant ribs does this canoe have? Cant ribs are the partial-ribs located waaaay up in the bow and stern of the canoe... they are canted into the stem of the canoe. The stem of the Morris ends on the first full (steam-bent) rib... the cant ribs are above that one. Your canoe will have either two pairs or three pairs. This may help determine the age. If 3649 is in fact the serial number, it will either be the lowest number in our database with three pairs of cants or the highest number with two pairs.

Every Morris adds to what we know! or think we know...

Kathy
 
Morris canoe

Hi
Thanks for the info.

Our canoe has three cant ribs. If I counted right it also has 32 other ribs. You are probably correct that it is 15 ft. in length. It does not have any number tag other than the one shown. There is nothing on the inwale and nothing to indicate there ever was one.

I did a computer search for the H D Folsom Arms Co and found that they had an ad in "County Life in America" advertising Morris and Rushton in the June 1904 issue on page 124. The ad reads" Morris and Rushton Canoes"
"The American Beauty is the most beautifully finished etc.-----for those wishing a less expensive article we have the famous Indian Girl and the well known Morris canvas covered canoes which so far as durability and paddling qualities are equally as good."

Thought that might be of interest.

Will any of this be of help in dating the canoe and or determing it's value.

jan G
 
I am pretty sure that is the tag. Here is one from a similar and also short Morris that Rollin restored a few years ago. Rollin had far less to work with. That is a cute little Morris.
 

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Our present thinking, as expressed in the two Morris I.D. videos mentioned earlier, would place canoe 3649 as circa 1905.

"Value" can be difficult to state, because it depends on many factors. This is a helpful discussion: http://forums.wcha.org/showthread.php?t=57

Although your canoe appears to be in good condition, restoration of a canoe where the mahogany has been painted is a bit of a chore. At least it doesn't appear to have been glassed. We've paid as little as zero for a Morris that needs help (the one in the video) to $1600 for one with long decks and all the bells and whistles (outside stems, rub rails, D-shaped outwales, half ribs, etc).

Kathy
 
second thoughts

If you want a canoe even just a little bit, you should have not only second thoughts, but third and fourth thoughts before selling this boat. Morris canoes are among the best ever made, and yours looks like one that is basically in very good condition. It appears that it can be used for a good long time as is unless there are serious problems not evident in your photos), but should you ever wish to restore it in the future, it will be well worth the effort -- you will have a real beauty. But unless and until you decide to restore the canoe, and occasional coat of paint is likely all that will be needed for quite a while.

Wood/canvas canoes are quieter, more graceful and elegant, and just more satisfying to paddle than canoes made of modern materials -- which is not to say that modern boats don't have their place -- where extreme light weight or durability is needed, for example. But for general paddling, it's hard to beat a w/c canoe. A 15 foot canoe is readily car-topped, and is great for both solo and tandem paddling, though it may not be the boat for a lengthy camping trip.

With rare exceptions, used w/c canvas canoes, while generally worth some money, are virtually never worth, in money, the cost of a new w/c canoe. Their value lies, in part, in the fact that they can be made to last almost forever with proper care, and in the fact that even when old, can perform very like a new w/c canoe. And there is the fact that you have a family heirloom, nearly 100 years old, which, with proper care, can be expected to last another 100 years.

People on or near the water rarely comment on an ordinary modern canoe of fiberglass, kevlar, or aluminum. But they regularly comment favorably on w/c canoes, remembering one in their family, or admiring the finish (even when the finish is not so great), or wondering that such boats still exist and can be used.
 
Here is an ad that might interest you. We are always buying and selling all types of canoes. We offer appraisal services also.

Sincerely,

Robert P. Ross
Ross Bros.
PO Box 60277
Florence, MA 01062
413.320.2306

www.RossBros.com
 

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Morris canoe

Hi Kathy

It's been a busy summer.

Since both of us are in our 80's we no longer can transport the canoe and have decided to part with it.

How does it get to be part of the data base?

Would we be correct in advertising it as built around 1905?

jan Goller
York Harbor, ME
 
Hi Jan,

Your canoe has been part of the Morris database since your first post here-- pictures and all! Thanks so much.

Yes, I'd say your canoe was circa 1905... and there are probably several people reading these posts who'd make you an offer, and would give your canoe a good home. Keep in touch--- I'd love to know where your little Morris makes her new home.

Kathy
 
15 Foot Morris

Kathy,

Responding to your request to know where Jan and Charles' 15 foot Morris made its new home.

I was the fortunate "early bird who got the worm" on this one. I could not wait to put it on the pond where we live and try it out. It paddles like a dream, unlike any other canoe I have. It is so nice on the water that I plan to loft the hull dimensions, build a form and make some copies of this very nice Morris model. My friend Bill Clements is also enthused with my idea/plan and wants to assist me in this effort.

I hope to see you at Assembly 2011 as I plan to bring it there to be next to the Rushtons on the lawn. :D

I consider myself very fortunate as in the month of October I was able to acquire two water worthy Morrises , both with original canvas. The other Morris is an 18 footer with no S/N plate, just the tack holes where it had been. I believe the sellors had been in communication with you on this one also. It was located in South Weymouth , Ma. It was missing the removable center thwart but Steve Lapey was so kind to offer to make one for me and present it when he came to look at and photograph the 18 footer.

Hope you and Denis are doing well.

Ed
 
Hi Ed-- Great news--- I'm so glad the 15 footer got a good home and that you're already enjoying it!

Does the 18 footer have tack holes on the stem or the inwale? This can help date a canoe without a tag. If there's a decal, that helps too because the wording changed at a specific point.

Kathy
 
18 & 15 foot Morrises

Kathy,

The 18 footer has the S/N plate tack holes on the port inwale at the location of the rib that goes under the splayed end of the stem. There are no other decals or plates on this canoe. Both canoes have 3 cant ribs. The 15 footer has tack holes for the missing S/N plate in the exact same location. The H&D Folsom brass plate on the bow deck of the 15 has what we believe to be the canoe S/N of 3649 hand stamped into it. An earlier post in this thread showed a similiar plate on a Morris deck that Rolin restored some years ago. That number is lower than this one and lends credence to conclude that it is in fact the transferred S/N from the Morris factory plate. I believe that you have previously dated both of these Morrises for the previous owners at circa 1905 construction year.

I'm tickled pink to have both canoes. Plan to use the 15 solo on chapter organized trips and the 18 when my wife can accomany me. Kinda looks like other canoes in the collection might get less use now!!! The 18 has #8 canvas and that might help explain why the canvas is yet in excellent condition. I'm wondering what number canvas is on the 15. Both canoes have the stem bands riveted on which I believe would indicate that the canvas has not been replaced.

I plan on bringing the 15 to assembly next July. Hope to see you and Denis there and look forward to meeting you both. I doubt that it will look any different than it looks now but maybe.

Ed
 
If there's a decal, that helps too because the wording changed at a specific point.

Kathy

Hi Kathy, please be more specific about what changed at what specific point.
I have a decal on one of my decks and I would surely like to know if there is significance to it.
 
I am writing an article for Wooden Canoe about the Morris decals. Unfortunately, my article is in my desktop computer and I don't have access to it right now.

There are three styles on short decked canoes (that we know of, so far). The earliest only exists on one known canoe (hey, Norm!) which probably dates from the early 1890s. The wording is:

BN Morris
Canvas Canoes Row Boats
And Equipments
Veazie, Maine

Sometime prior to the use of serial numbers (which appears to have happened in about 1900), the decal wording was changed to:

BN Morris
Builder
Canvas Paddling & Rowing
Canoes
Veazie Maine

The wording changed between Morris # 9240 and #10090 to:

BN Morris
Builder
Canvas Paddling & Motor
Canoes
Veazie Maine

By "between", I mean that 9240 is the highest numbered canoe with an existing "Rowing" decal, and 10090 is the lowest number with "Motor". Finding more canoes with intact decals may narrow this or alter it... Morris may have used both decal types interchangeably for a period of time.

If someone didn't have a serial number on their canoe but did have a decal, the decal could help to date the canoe. Knowing roughly which decals were used, and when, can help someone wanting to put the correct reproduction-decal on their Morris. Reproductions are "in the works".

Kathy
 
Morris decal

This has been a joy. Kathy, I'm looking forward to reading your article on the Morris decals. Anyone who owns a Morris owes Kathy a debt of gratitude for all the historical research she has done.

Just for fun, I've attached a picture of the decal on the bow deck of my Morris, which is a 16-foot Special Indian Extra Beam.

Norm
 

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