Sunday, January 12, 2020

mid-to-late 19th Century Adirondack Paddle with carved drip ring

A dated listing on showcases an antique Adirondack Guide paddle with a heavily cracked, but beautiful patina and a unique grip shape.

Adirondack Guide paddle
54 inches

The rounded grip handle cascades to an arrowhead motif atop a square shaped drip ring...

Grip Closeup

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Large Penobscot paddle with sun carving

From a dated listing on are some photos of an antique Penobscot paddle estimated to be circa 1900. The grain pattern is consistent with Ash. It is a very large design at 78" long with an 8" wide beavertail blade painted in a faded grayish paint and along with a classic Penobscot 5-stepped grip handle. Apparently found in an estate in Northern New Hampshire along the Androscroggin River.

Penobscot Paddle
78 inches long x 8" wide
Gray Paint on Blade

Grip Closeup

The upper grip face features a nail hole, likely used to suspend the paddle on the wall as decoration or as a method of hanging the freshly carved paddle to dry and eliminate warping of the green wood. The upper palm rest also features a circular chip-carved, sun motif .

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Frank B/ Mayer Sketches - Eastern Dakota Canoe Paddles, 1851

The historic sketchbooks of Frank Blackwell Mayer (1827-1899) utilised on his 1851 trip to  Minnesota Territory have been posted on (link here). Mayer was a  Baltimore artist who  journeyed to Traverse de Sioux and Mendota on the Minnesota frontier to record meetings between United States officials and Indian tribes who were ceding title to much of Southern Minnesota and portions of Iowa and Dakota.

His first booklet (#40) contain sketches of the Missouri frontier, the Mississippi, St. Paul, and Kaposia. The next four books (#41-44) contain sketches made at Fort Snelling, Traverse des Sioux, and Mendota. They provide a visual record of Native American life of the era, particularly among the Eastern Dakota (Sioux). There are also sketches of voyageurs and the usage of both dugout and bark canoes.

Page 17 of sketchbook #41 features an image simply labelled "Canoe Paddle"which features slightly recurved shoulders, thick shaft, distinct spine running the full length of the blade and ending in a slightly pointed tip....

Page 30 of the same sketchbook features another example of a Dakota warrior holding onto a paddle with recurved shoulders and pointed tip. The caption states, "Drawn near Fort Snelling".

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Mid-19th century Penobscot paddle (Poplar)

Archived on is an interesting paddle originally from Cowan's  American Indian and Western Art: Live Salesroom Auction (4/8/2017). What makes this one different from other 19th century Penobscot designs is the claim it is made of Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera). While utilised today to make inexpensive paddles and oars, it was not a common wood in the Northeastern paddle making tradition as evident by lack of documentation and surviving paddles made from this wood. Poplar is also a relatively weak wood compared to more commonly used ash and maple, yet this huge 75" paddle has a hefty 7.5" wide blade. To survive the stain of use, the shaft would benefit from being much thicker.

Penobscot Wood Paddle (mid-19th century)
poplar; length 75 in.
The beveled, triangular grip gracefully transitions to a round shaft and teardrop-shaped blade; surface with warm patina 

Grip Closeup

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Odanak Abenaki Postcard Paddle

Found two postcards online featuring a Abenaki style paddle. Both feature the same unknown person listed as being taken at Odanak, Qu├ębec, and published by the Peco Ottawa Photogelatine Engraving, Co between 1930-1940.

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