The Chris – Crafters. The Family And Owners That Started It All!

1920s Chris Craft -1

Cover of the 1928 Chris – Craft Co

Thanks to Seth Katzs from Katzs Marina for sharing one more amazing Drawer Find. This special Chris craft Brochure is not only rare as heck, but also a blockbuster of insight into how the Smith Family wanted to be seen. We will also add, that this brochure was most likly a huge deal to produce and release. Possibly the first real push to the general consumer.

1920s Chris Crafters Anyone

Drive a Car? You can drive a boat!

You can feel it in the text. They are saying that all the water ways are now open to A Chris Crafter, and talking about every family that has a car can have a Chris Craft. mmmm Maybe Henry Fords push was rubbing off. Its always interesting to see History through human behavior rather than the gloss that time can paint onto things.

1920s Chris Crafters family shot

All in the family

Chris Smith Family

Someone wrote in the family names. There is fellow Woody Boater Chris Smith on the far right.

This brochure shows an entire family stretching and pushing it all out there. And its clear from the start, they understood that emotional marketing is far far stronger than rational selling. These are boats after all. Kudos to the Smith’s for having the courage to lead with emotion. We still LOVE the brand because of that. One of the coolest parts of this brochure is listing “Chris Crafters” around America that are on board.

1920s Chris Crafters

Chris Crafters! I think there is now a yellow pages size book on this.

1920s Chris Crafters CU

Recognize anyone? Vincent Aster of NY, NY was a huge market for Chris Crafts. But owners in Bermuda, California, DC

This is a classic “Band Wagon” Marketing style and works well, when you are starting out. Its a way of saying you are not alone in your passion, and very important in leveraging early adopters to main stream customers. Genus stuff.

1920s Chris Crafters More

The 26″ – The big seller

1920s Chris Crafters open 30 ft


1920s Chris Crafters More 2


1920s Chris Crafting Inside cover

Chris Crafting!

We have heard, and this is from Pete Beauregard, one of the great sources of information, that the 26′ Chris-Craft was such a success that it’s really the boat that helped Chris-Craft become a global success. This may not be exactly right, but that year Chris-Craft sold close to 1.300 boats, and that helped them go to the bank and get money to expand. The 26′ Chris-Craft triple was a huge seller and can be credited as a corner stone boat for the company, and thus the entire pleasure boating world.

1920s Cris Crafters Open

That 26′ sure came in all sorts of styles.

All this cool stuff is reflective in this brochure, which was a huge deal back in the day. And to think all this was sitting in a drawer. Got any cool Drawer finds?

22 replies
  1. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    Looking through the names there is an Arthur R. Koch, Brooklyn NY. You don’t suppose that is a relative to Gov. Ed Koch.

    Neat stuff!

  2. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    Mayor Ed Koch, not Governor!

    Lots of NY boats that presumably were kept at summer homes away from the city.

  3. says:

    this is the blue print for the acbs to reinvent wood boats has been sitting in some drawer for years. take it, change the name and the pictures and redeploy. it truly is a fantastic marketing plan. Love to see a real 26 ft CC hydroplane. Also noticed the T-31 and the details of the boat are clear and distinctive with some digital enhancing. This picture clarifies what was said in to the article on this boat in the book Cutwater – Speed boats and Launches from the Golden Age of Boating.

  4. Matt
    Matt says:

    Yes it is, its the united marketing plan for all boating. Like Shakespeare is the archetype of all modern drama, and I love Lucy the formula for all sit comes, this simple brochure is the template for marketing boating. Its so simple companies screw it up by over thinking it. Such is the genus of the Chris Craft co. They never forgot..

  5. Wilson
    Wilson says:

    I wouldn’t say these are exactly hidden treasures. These cataloges have been in the Chris Craft Club archives for 25 or more years that I know of and most have been scanned and are in the archival materials on the the Chris Craft Club website..
    Which is not to say that Woody Boater bringing them to light isn’t interesting & useful and a delightful way of reminiscing.

  6. Wilson
    Wilson says:

    I should have added that the scanning of the old brochures by the Chris Carft Club was thanks to a $50,000 grant from OMC.

    • Matt
      Matt says:

      Wow Wilson, that was a very generous grant. No one really realizes whats involved in doing such a job. Its massive, time consuming and requires a ton of server space to house. The really cool thing is that its searchable. I know bill basler and I spoke on this subject often. We worked with the national Archives which is also scanning and cataloguing stuff.

  7. Dan T
    Dan T says:

    During prohibition Al Capone owned 2 dozen Chris Crafts. Guess he had the need for speed. He’s not mentioned as a Chris Crafter.

  8. Andreas Jordahl Rhude
    Andreas Jordahl Rhude says:

    The Thompson family had three generations making boats in Peshtigo and Oconto, WI, Cortland, NY, and Los Angeles, CA (for one year in the 1920s in L.A.). Six men in the first generation plus a couple of sisters and brother in-laws; six men in the second generation plus several ladies; at least three men in the third generation. And Thompson made an average 5,000 boats annually at Peshtigo – the peak year was 8,000. Plus about 4,000 boats annually at the Cortland, NY branch factory. And Cruisers, Inc. at Oconto was making about 3,000 annually during her peak.

    • Greg Lewandowski
      Greg Lewandowski says:

      Walter P Chrysler is also on the list. The Detroit auto barons liked their boating also!

  9. Denis D
    Denis D says:

    Vincent Astor, son of John Jacob Astor IV who went down with the Titanic. Some very interesting names on the list!

    Denis D

  10. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    I don’t see a publish or copyright date. But my eyes are tired of squinting. I’m guessing 1926, or 7? Chris Craft Co continues to impress me with their business approach. After reading Building Chris-Craft: Inside the Factories by tony mollica and seeing the job description write ups and performance expectations one sees the level of professionalism operating within this company even in the early years.

  11. Steve Anderson
    Steve Anderson says:

    Of course, the first name on the list is Arthur M Anderson, Director of US Steel, and Vice Chairman of JP Morgan and Corp. He has a pretty famous ship named after himself on the great lakes.

      • Kevin F
        Kevin F says:

        As an aside, my mother’s cousin was one of three men who made it onto the life raft when the Anderson went down. He was in his scivies, as he was in his bunk when she floundered. Since he was so cold, he kept losing consciousness and falling off the raft, only to be pulled back on by his ship mates. Only an hour before the rescue he again slipped off into the freezing waters and went unnoticed until it was too late. The other crew members survived.

  12. Dan T
    Dan T says:

    Check out the photo of the Vincent Astor yacht tender on the bottom of the Chris-Crafters list. It’s either a ghost or a priest. Blessing of the Fleet? Brilliant advertising.

  13. Verne
    Verne says:

    Just noticed that Charlie Chaplan is also on that list!

    The people who bought those boats didn’t drive Chevys…….

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