Serial Number Search (Confusing though)


Curious about Wooden Canoes
I hope this is an easier question than what I'm anticipating. My dad has an Old Town canoe - he's had it more than 50 years now. He last used it in the late 1980s and because my dad is well into his 80s himself and has balance issues, it's time for the canoe to go. About 20 years ago, I contacted Old Town myself with a number my dad gave me for the canoe and a woman told me it was an early one and if I remember correctly, sent my dad some sort of plaque that was to be affixed to the canoe. He never affixed the plaque (he does remember receiving something) and he has no idea where that plaque now is. Yesterday I took a look at the canoe and took photos - at this stage it is a project. The only number I could find was carved into the canoe up in the stern. To me it looks like a state boat registration number, but my dad (who is also dealing with memory issues) said that this was the serial number of the canoe and that it has always been carved into the canoe. Maybe he could be wrong? In looking through the serial numbers in the Forum here, I don't see any serial number like it. So, as silly as I might sound and at the risk of sounding even more ignorant, what is this number? It is:
Any info would be appreciated.
The NJZ prefix indicates the canoe was registered in the state of New Jersey as a homebuilt boat. Vintage boats often have such a number (called a Us Coast Guard Hull Identification Number, or HIN), assigned to them by the state in order to register them. The HIN was only required after 1974, so older boats usually don't have them.

If the canoe is an Old Town, the serial number is stamped on the inboard upper face of the stem (see
Old Town canoes usually have a serial number on the inside stems as described at which will not have any letters. Your number looks like a modern Hull Identification Number (HIN) where the first three letters that are known as the Manufacturer Identification Code (MIC). The NJZ is a special MIC code as described at which is reserved for the state of New Jersey to issue for home made boats as Dan mentioned previously. The last four digits of a HIN are a date which indicates that your number was issued in June of 1986. The actual serial number is 24422 in the middle of the HIN. A picture of your number may help confirm if the NJZ prefix and 0686 suffix were added later.

The Old Town canoe with serial number 24422 is an 18 foot long, CS (commmon sense or middle) grade, HW (Heavy Water) model with red western cedar planking, closed spruce gunwales, birch decks, ash trim, and a keel. It was built between November, 1912 and March, 1913. The original exterior paint color was dark green. The shipping date is listed as December 30th, 1912 but this is probably a typographical error. The original destination was Buffalo, New York. A scan of this build record can be found by following the link at the attached thumbnail image below.

Several hundred thousand scans like this were created with substantial grants from the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association (WCHA) and others. A description of the project to preserve these records is available at if you want more details. I hope that you will join or renew your membership to the WCHA so that services like this can continue. See to learn more about the WCHA and to join.

It is also possible that you could have another number or manufacturer if this description doesn't match your canoe. The information at may help you decide how to value and then find a good new home for it. Feel free to reply here if you have any other questions.



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You might also want to check the other stem, since OT put their serial numbers on both stems. If the other stem lacks the additional letters & numbers, you've got it. Even if the other stem does have the additional characters, you may still have it. Posting photos of the serial number & various views of the canoe always helps in confusing situations... and besides, we just like looking at them!:)
I appreciate the responses so very much. I called my dad and he doesn't remember carving anything into the stem but to be honest, I doubt he'd remember if he did. While he paid for a NJ registration on the boat until 1989 the boat has not seen water since the late 1970s. We were an active camping family in the 1960s and 1970s, but my brother's unexpected death in 1976 as a young teen from a heart attack curbed any camping or canoeing interest for us after that. I'm sure the only reason he still has the canoe is because of the many memories from those years, but with my parents being elderly and moving, it's time to say good bye to many things. He bought the canoe in 1960 or 1961 from a man in Dunellen, NJ. The canoe has always been a forest green color and is canvas and wood. I measured it to over 17' when I was there the other day, but I'm not sure if it would measure to 18'. I will check the stern for another number, but in the meanwhile, I will try to post some pictures.

P.S. I tried to upload photos, but got the message below. I'll try with fewer photos later.

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