Vintage Canoe Paddles with Carvings

Ginger Bynum

New Member
Hello All! I am on a quest for knowledge! I have these canoe paddles that were acquired at an estate sale in Telluride, Co. Originally was attracted to their vintage look, but now curious if their origins! Is this just decorative or actually has history? If you can take a gander and help me know a bit more about them I would be thankful! Also my favorite one far right fell and the handle broke didn’t want to glue it back on before I had more info!


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Murat Vardar may be the best person to answer your question as Dave Osborne suggested in response to your message on Facebook. Murat hasn't posted here in a few months. His blog at has his contact information. Bob Holtzman at may be another option.

My guess is that your paddles are from South America or the Pacific regions. The ones with the 'shovel handles' don't look like anything from North America that I recall ever having seen before. Good luck,

I ended up responding to a private email sent by the original poster. My comments were pretty much in line with what Benson mentions. The grip styles and decoration are not consistent with woodland & subarctic indigenous designs. Bob Holtzman might be a better source to confirm if they are of South American or Pacific origin.
These paddles, may perhaps be reproductions using mixed influences.
The grip and blade shapes are not consistent with north american, though the blade shapes are. So are the incised designs on the blades.

Can you tell what wood they are made of? Is it hard and/or heavier than most north american hardwoods?

My scant knowledge of South American is that some of the grips show that influence, but the blades are not "leaf" shaped as these from the Amazon region. The wood "l'embraxco da valeria" is heavy, with no waterproofing finish applied.


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Bob Holtzman responded to me in a PM;
""Leaf"-shaped paddles are not the only type present in Amazonia -- round blades also common. The crutch-shaped grip looks Amazonian, but most I've seen have taller horns -- i.e., more of a C shape. No guesses on the type of wood."