Sunday, March 24, 2019

Tom P's Adirondack & Folk Art Paddles

Blog reader Tom Penniston is parting with two of the better paddles in his personal collection.

The first is a 56 inch long Adirondack steering paddle identified as being made by the 19th century guideboat builder, A.H. Billings. The grip and motif are identical to the Billing's paddle now in the collection of the Adirondack Museum (Item 1971.163.0002) originally from Clark’s Camp on Blue Mountain Lake. Tom's paddle is made from bird's eye maple which has aged to a lovely patina.  The rounded grip is shaped above an arrowhead-style carving. At the base of the grip, the initials "E K" are etched into the wood.

Tom also has a full-sized 65 inch Seth Steward (1844 - 1927)  folk art paddle. Steward was a Maine artist who frequently painted on smaller souvenir canoe paddles, many of which featured the long, flat grips of the Northeast Region (see example in this earlier post from 2010). A  biographical writeup with more samples of Steward's work can be read on the Cherry Gallery Journal. A full-sized Steward paddle is a relatively rare find in the paddle art world.

Anyone looking for more info on this rare piece of folk art and/or the Billings Adirondack paddle can contact Tom directly via email.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Penobscot style paddles and snowshoe frame canoe seat.

A recent listing on featured two vintage paddles and a snowshoe style folding canoe seat.

The shorter paddles has a classic Penobscot style stepped grip The longer paddle has some visible signs of warping in the shaft but otherwise seems sounds.

Closeup of the short painted paddle shows the blade has split, a very common feature with old maple paddles, but has undergone some sort of repair with large metal fastenings (bent nails?) holding the pieces together.

Unfortunately no dimensional info is given.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Historic Paddle Photo: Sportman's Exhibition, New York, 1897

An earlier post mentioned the gallery page of artworks by Edwin Tappan Adney currently being  featured on through an association with the Mariner's Museum. One of the images is  Adneys sketch of a decorated Penobscot paddle etched with a family of moose on the blade and floral designs at the throat and grip face. His scribbled notes mention that the paddle was found at the Sportman's Exhibition, Maine Exhibit, New York in 1897 and was possibly made by a St. John Indian living at Old Town, ME.

It turns out an image of this very Maine Exhibit  appears on the Maine Memory Network site. Artifact 17572 features a zoomable image of the outdoor display. Tucked to the right of the image amidst all the mounted deer & moose heads, trophy fish and a stuffed owl is a full size canoe paddle.

Title: New York Sportsman's Show booth, 1897
Creation Date: 1897
Subject Date: 1897
Town: New York
State: NY
Media: Photographic print
Object Type: Image

The photo resolution is insufficient to visualize any markings so Adney's sketch provides much needed details. The whereabouts of this paddle today is not known, but Adney did in fact make a 1/5 scale model sometime between 1935-1945 which now resides in the storage collection at the Mariners Museum ( Accession Number 2000.0038.000022A )

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