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

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