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Rushton's Sporting Boats

Rushton’s 1889 catalog is cyclopedic in picture and word. He shows his rowing and sailing cruisers, canoes, guideboats, sneakboats, electric launches, and steam launches; “The Grayling,” “The Springfield,” “Columbia,” and dozens of others, all numbered. Their hull lines, sails, rigging plans, carrying capacities, speeds, motors are all illustrated or detailed.

The old master gives us everything we need—even dimensions and wood species he uses for each piece—to build his designs. Rushton reveals his code, as if he knew that after a century and a quarter, builders would replicate his design, and owners of his prize boats would need proof of origin.

Nowhere else are these details given, but are recorded here for all time as the high standard for the first boat builders the “modern era,” when for the first time boats were mail ordered and railway delivered.

This facsimile reproduction, in original ink and paper, is rich in Victorian graphic design, for the boat builder, or for the graphic artist and student of early sales brochures.

The booklet is not without social commentary of the era: pages showing his electric launch encourage the elimination of manpower: “…Take your friend along and feel free to discuss the political situation—your oarsman will not gossip.”

Rushton shows more than his well-known canoe-style boats; steam launches of the highest order are illustrated with line drawings, plan views & profiles, and lumber sizes used. Engine horsepower and speeds attained are given for each of the six launches presented.

Sporting Boats, by J.H. Rushton Illustrated Soft Cover, 8 1/2” x 6,” Landscape Format, 125 pages, 60+ b&w photos, 20+ line drawings and diagrams, renderings, and tables.


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