I am in possession of a set of F.A. Allen bow-facing oars that I received from my father many years ago. They are stored in the rafters of my shed. My father acquired them probably in the mid 1930's. I remember as a small child being in a rowboat and my father using these oars. This was at Colville Park in Red Wing, Minnesota. Do these have any value as I may be interested in finding a new home for them. I would think that these oars are quite rare.
and I will pass your message on to John.
F.A. Allen patented his system in 1894 and it seems to have been quite popular, but it was not the first. One W. Lyman patented this similar mechanism in 1875, but it is pivoted at different points:
Gig Harbor Boats offer this gadget, that seems to operate in almost exactly the same way as Allen's but made in modern stainless steel:
EZ-Row make drop-in unit complete with riggers and seat that can be installed in a canoe or any suitable hull, and RowRite have an updated mechanism using gears that folds up neatly on the gunwale when not in use.