Does Minwax Ipswich Pine stain orginate in Ipswich MA?

Antique pitch pine boards

Local folks tell me that Ipswich Pine stain, a color offered by Minwax and Varathane originated in Ipswich with Carman Woodworking as far back as the early 1800’s. Their shop was behind the Laughing Lion gift shop on Essex Road, which is now the location of the Clam House. The Laughing Lion specialized in American pine reproductions.

Most of the pine trees in colonial America (Northeast U.S.) are Eastern white pine (Pinus Strobus), a quick-growing and easily workable lumber that was used in much early construction, along with American Chestnut. Freshly cut white pine is creamy white but aged lumber can acquire a golden or reddish tone and is sometimes called “pumpkin pine.”

Other genus of pine are rare in the Northeast, but Pitch pine (Pinus Rigida) dominates the pine barrens found in southeastern Massachusetts and New Jersey.

Castle Neck in Ipswich MA has one of the largest stands of pitch pine on the Massachusetts North Shore. The coarse knotty wood of these trees contains a large amount of resin (pine tar) that was used for pitch.

The earliest settlers often lighted their houses, by burning thin strips of the pitch pine trees. It is thought that this is the source of the name of Candlewood Road.  The wood was used primarily for ship building and railroad ties because the high resin content preserves it from decay. The reddish-colored boards show above are restored antique pitch pine flooring.


A stand of Pitch Pine at Castle Neck

Categories: Commentary

1 reply »

  1. I knew Richard (Dick) Carman, and worked at Carman Woodworking for several years, but I never heard that about Ipswich Pine stain being invented by him. Any idea if this is really true?


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