Photo credit: M.C. Wootton , 05/1984

Property Name: OLIVER'S GIFT (log canoe)
Date Listed: 9/18/1985
Inventory No.: AA-2
Location: 3473, Ranger Road, Davidsonville, Anne Arundel County

Description: OLIVER'S GIFT is a 30'-7" long sailing log canoe with a racing rig. Log-built with carvel-fitted rising planks, she has a sharp, raking longhead bow and a sharp stern. Her beam measures 7'-3". The canoe has typical Tilghman-style log construction, with carvel-fitted rising planks and a lapped rubrail at the sheer. The sharp, raking stem has a longhead on which trailboards are mounted, and a long bowsprit. The sharp stern is overhung with an outrigger, or bumpkin, from which the mainsail is controlled. The rudder is hung outboard on pintles. The canoe has a centerboard and carries springboards for use when racing. Her overall appearance is beamy with considerable, but straight, sheer and little flare to the topsides. The boat carries a racing rig with two adjustable, unstayed masts set into square past partners in the foredeck and in a thwart midships. The bowsprit is set up with heavy standing rigging--a wire bobstay and two bowsprit shrouds. Sails are a main, foresail, and jib, with assorted light sails. The main and foresails have clubs and sprits. When unstepped, the masts rest on trestles. The canoe is half-decked, with white-painted washboards and a low coaming encircling the circular cockpit. There is brightwork trim on the sheer rail and inside the cockpit, while the outside of the hull, coated with fiberglass, is painted white with bright red bottom paint. There are solid low rails mounted along the washboards and trailboards with the name OLIVER'S GIFT mounted between two lines of beading on the clipper bow. A small, scrolled billethead marks the front of the bow.

Significance: This vessel is significant as being one of the last surviving traditional Chesapeake Bay racing log canoes that carry on a tradition of racing on the Eastern Shore of Maryland that has existed since the 1840s. In addition, it is a surviving representative of the oldest indigenous type of boat on the bay--the working log canoe--which was developed in the 17th century by early European settlers from the aboriginal dugout canoe. OLIVER'S GIFT is also significant for having been built by Oliver Duke, one of the more noted canoe builders of recent times who also built the surviving canoes NODDY, PATRICIA, and EDMEE S. OLIVER'S GIFT was the last canoe built in the era of the revival of interest in log canoe racing that began in the 1920s. After construction of OLIVER'S GIFT in 1947, no new log canoes were built for 25 years, until Sidney Dickson built SPIRIT OF WYE TOWN in 1972. Oliver Duke died before completion of OLIVER'S GIFT, and the canoe was finished by his nephew, Duke Adams. Adams raced the canoe until the early 1960s when he presented her to the Tred Avon Yacht Club. She was acquired in 1966 by Peter Hersloff and then by Duke Adams II, a Chesapeake Bay pilot. Over the years OLIVER'S GIFT has proved quite successful in racing. Oliver Duke, a naval architect who worked for Sun Shipbuilding in Chester, Pa., built log canoes as a hobby. Duke's importance as a master designer and craftsman of log canoes is widely recognized. OLIVER'S GIFT is exceptionally significant in representing the later phase of Duke's work, carrying over elements of design and construction employed in his earlier canoes.




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