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Chestnut question.

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by Sdrew22, May 12, 2020.

  1. Sdrew22

    Sdrew22 Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Hey, I recently purchased my first wood/canvas canoe. A Chestnut Prospector 17. I have the original sales receipt and am wondering what "ptd"means. Any suggestions?

    I have attached the receipt for viewing. Thanks for your help!
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    Is the interior painted? This appears to have been a common notation as shown below from a few years earlier.

    Benson


    Chestnut-45285_Page_1.jpg
     
  3. OP
    OP
    Sdrew22

    Sdrew22 Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Interior is not painted. It's the canoe featured in my avatar.

    Thanks for the reply.
     
  4. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    Prospectors of that era were listed as either PTD Stern (pointed stern) or VEE Stern (having a small transom for a motor well above the waterline). The 17' PTD model was called the "Garry" and the VEE model the "Marsh".
    Looks like the 16' versions were the PTD "Fort" and a 16'3" model the "Fawn". 18' the Voyageur (PTD) and Birch (VEE).

    I must be getting old, because the print in my old Chestnut catalog is getting really tiny.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2020
  5. OP
    OP
    Sdrew22

    Sdrew22 Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks Todd. Great info! I was hoping it was a paint code.
     
  6. Pook

    Pook Chestnut Canoe fan

    Hey!
    I recognize that sales receipt.
    That's my Prospector!
    and I can confirmed it is indeed "pointed" .

    Bruce

    Chestnut Fort.JPG
     
  7. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    A little bit of knowledge is always a dangerous thing but allow me to engage in some wild speculation based on these two receipts. They show that the Chestnut serial number 45285 shipped on July 20th, 1971 and number 47262 shipped on April 17th, 1974. This works out to 1977 units during the 1002 elapsed days or just under two per day. This would put serial number one around 1908 and the last serial number issued may have been over 50,000 when they closed the doors in December, 1978. Does anyone know of any other available Chestnut receipts to refine this analysis? Interesting stuff,

    Benson
     
  8. samb

    samb LOVES Wooden Canoes

    That would make mine 1944. I've always presumed it's later. (and maybe my maths is wrong!)
    Sam
     
  9. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    Clearly Chestnut did not maintain a consistent daily production from day one through two World Wars and the Great Depression. Old Town certainly didn't. Therefore, it seems likely that yours might be later. What is the serial number and best guess of the build date for yours (or any other)? Thanks,

    Benson
     
  10. samb

    samb LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Without looking, I can't be exact, but I think mine is 25255. Nick Denis has 25250 and reckons his is late 50s, early 60s.
    I paddled mine today for the first time since the lockdown began. It's the first day us in England are allowed back on the rivers. IMG_20200513_102913.jpg
    Sam
     
  11. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    Correct...it would make sense to "fit" the builds to follow Old Towns annual numbers and then massage the result to reflect any variation that might follow Canadas history.
     
  12. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    Well, I found many records for Old Town canoes that shipped on both 7/20/1971 and 4/17/1974 so I selected 186791 and 197262 which were each roughly in the middle of the serial number ranges for those two dates. This indicates that Old Town made about 10.45 canoes per day during that period. It was also interesting to discover that this put the Old Town serial number one in 1900 which is probably accurate. Then I took the Old Town serial number date chart information shown at http://www.wcha.org/catalogs/old-town/oldtown_chart.html and scaled it to match the Chestnut information which produced the chart below. This is very rough but might be helpful in some cases. It still doesn't put a Chestnut with a serial number in the 25000 range during the 1950s or 1960s so I will really need more information to fix that.

    Benson



    Chestnut.jpg
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2020
  13. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    Very interesting......
    Do you have another invoice with a 25,000 SN in the 50/60s? It looks like you are bang on for the ones listed in this thread.
     
  14. Graham

    Graham Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    I suspect it's more likely that they didn't start at serial number one, and I recall that they started stamping stems when Richardson sent Birch to Fredericton in 1954. It would be interesting to see a bill of sale before that date to see if a serial number was referenced. As much as I'd like to see one, I have a feeling they didn't exist. None of my earlier Chestnut have any markings, as much as I wish they did.
     
  15. Graham

    Graham Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Now that I think of it, does the the serial number on the bill match the stem number ? Because you're right, it does say serial number, while the canoe markings were generally accepted as batch numbers ...
     
  16. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    No, but samb said "I think mine is 25255. Nick Denis has 25250 and reckons his is late 50s, early 60s." in response number ten here.


    I agree, Kennebec started with serial number 1001 in January of 1910 and Joe Seliga started with number 100 in 1938. E. M. White started building canoes in 1889 but serial numbers didn't appear on them until 1946 when he sold the company. B. N. Morris started making canoes in the late 1800s but doesn't appear to have started numbering them until the early 1900s. The lowest confirmed Old Town serial number is 201 which is probably from 1901. Their build records only go back to 1905. Carleton canoes had serial numbers when Old Town purchased their factory in 1910 but nothing is known about when these started. Many canoes from the Charles River area and a variety of other builders have serial numbers but very little is known about them.

    Therefore, it is highly likely that Chestnut didn't start using serial numbers in the early 1900s and that they didn't begin with number one. The Chestnut with the lowest serial number that I recall from this forum is 7228 as shown at https://www.wcha.org/forums/index.php?threads/16300/ which was thought to be from the 1950s or 1960s. Does anyone have a better guess of when they started and what their first serial number was?

    Benson
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2020
  17. Andre Cloutier

    Andre Cloutier Firestarter. Wicked Firestarter.

    Nice conjecture, some sense of Canadian manufacturers' dates are sorely needed, however it seems this is never to be. I think its safe to say there may never have been a concerted effort to itemize dates and construction details much as Old Town and others have, and we have to content ourselves with approximates and broad 'eras' based on details. Not to damn any attempts, but for what its worth none of my prefire boats have any markings, and indeed scores of boats of all eras ive both worked on and observed didnt either. Perhaps a company ledger would provide insight but it seems that whatever records were kept, they werent duplicated on individual products.
     
  18. Pook

    Pook Chestnut Canoe fan

    Graham,

    Yes the s/n on the sales slip is the same number that is stamped on the stem of my Prospector.

    Bruce
     
  19. Blott

    Blott LOVES Wooden Canoes

    The serial number on my Chestnut Playmate is C25 250 From memory I think Sams is C25 280 They were certainly within 30 of each other and are visually identical in size but are clearly of different grades; mine has heart shaped decks whilst Sams are semi circular. When I purchased mine the vendor in Cornwall UK had acquired it from a Canadian friend who bought it with him when he emigrated to the UK in 1960; the Canadian had owned it for "10 years or so" before coming to the UK so I have always assumed 1950. The heart shaped deck on mine is the oddity as that suggests earlier but the general consensus is that it was a "special". If I recall correctly, the late Ken Solway suggested that revering the first two digits gave the year of manufacture but I am not sure........
     
  20. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    Solway's theory from "The Story of the Chestnut Canoe" is shown below. I don't recall any mention of this topic from Roger MacGregor's later and more comprehensive book "When the Chestnut was in Flower" so please correct me if anyone knows of one. Thanks,

    Benson


    Ken-Solway.jpg
     

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