Monday, January 4, 2016

Maine's Hudson Museum collections now online

Been offline during the chaos that are the Christmas Holidays. Hope everyone had a good break and happy start to the New Year.

Recently found out that the The Hudson Museum at the University of Maine has a new online app that showcases some objects in their "Maine Indian Gallery". I had some issues with my web browser but still managed to get to some screen shots of some interesting paddle stuff.

Hudson Museum Gallery Portal - Click HERE to enter

I first heard of the Hudson Museum thanks to fellow blogger Bob Holtzman of the fantastic Indigenous Boats blog. He's been kind enough over the years to send relevant photos regarding bark canoe and woodland paddles for usage on this site. In particular, this post here discussed a wonderful looking paddle with a ridged grip that I tried to emulate. That paddle ended up regrettably snapping during the carving phase from poor stock selection.

Now that some of the items in the museums collection are online, there are some nice photos and accompanying information. First off here is the screenshot and closeup of their birchbark canoe dated to 1888.

A closeup of the exhibit. The paddle I was interested is the bottom one in the foreground...

Unfortunately after searching through their database, I couldn't find a specific entry just for that paddle. Too bad. Instead, however, the paddle immediately in front of the canoe has its own documentation slide...

A big surprise was discovering a Penobscot made paddle that readers might recognized from multiple postings on the site...

It looks to be identical to the antique paddle first described in the archives of as well as Skinner Auctions. Back on Sept 24, 2011, it sold for $2,370 although this one was described as a Penobscot Paddle, circa 1900 not 1950 as the Hudson museum slide states.

Overall side-by-side comparison
"Skinner Auction" paddle (left) vs Hudson Museum (right)

Furthermore, if you look at description and grip design, the Hudson paddle mentions the initials "HBW" carved into the base, whereas the Skinner Auction paddle is missing this description. The lighting in the photo captures is obviously different as well, but the Auction paddle shows some subtle carving damage around the flower motif in the centre of the grip.

Grip comparison
 "Skinner Auction" paddle (left) vs Hudson Museum (right)

Perhaps these are just different sides of the same paddle or one was a later replica of the other. I've sent a query to the museum and will wait to see what the response is.

Feb 23, 2016 UPDATE: Received a response from the Director of the Hudson Museum. The paddle in the Hudson collection was indeed obtained from Skinner auctions so it is the same piece. The confusion with the dating was due to human error when the info was imported into the app and is pending correction.

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