Tom Weil’s Rowing Prizes At RRM

RRM has a new exhibit on rowing prizes from the collection of famous rowing historian and collector Thomas E Weil.

The River and Rowing Museum in Henley-on-Thames has just opened a new exhibition: “The Art of the Prize – Rowing Prizes from the Thomas E Weil Collection”.

Thomas E Weil, living in Connecticut, USA, and a trustee of RRM, is a renown rowing historian and collector. Weil has donated multiple rowing objects and artefacts both to RRM and to the rowing exhibit located at the NRF’s National Rowing Hall of Fame, at this time located at Mystic Seaport in Mystic, Connecticut. From the exhibition at RRM, HTBS has picked the following information:

Tom Weil. Photo: Andy Price

“Trophies in their many varieties make up a substantial part of the Weil collection but he has also gifted the Museum an array of rowing memorabilia including paintings, postcards, photographs, books, films, posters, prints, cartoons, programmes, pamphlets, and coins. A small selection of these are displayed here to provide some idea of the collection’s scope and diversity.

“This exhibit presents a selection of the great variety of individual prize forms that have been essayed in British rowing history. From silver arm badges, wherries and oars, to the wooden water barrel or oar, to the array of chalices, goblets, mugs and tankards, to the metallic medal, no rowing nation has surpassed Britain in its imaginative search for forms of athletic recognition, and few could match the artistry and craftsmanship devoted to the production of these treasured artifacts. The objects displayed here are largely drawn from amateur rowing’s first century.

“A popular conceit regarding the character and domain of rowing in Britain is ‘toffs on the Thames’. While the two best known boat-racing fixtures, Henley Royal Regatta and the Boat Race, may be guilty of that characterization to some extent, and the Thames is undoubtedly the most rowed river in Britain, this display proffers abundant evidence of the spread and practice of the sport of rowing across the nation. Boat clubs and regattas flourished along the east, west and south coasts, and sprouted inland where rivers were found. The venues shown here are but a sample – for lack of space, a great many British rowing sites could not be represented.”

From Weil’s beautiful Beauty and the Boats – art & artistry in early British rowing (2005) the book’s author says

“The zealotry of which I am occasionally accused and probably guilty has never been a burden. I am continuously moved by the thrill of an acquisition, the pleasure of a discovery, the satisfaction of learning, the joy of sharing, and the honour of teaching in a field which has never had its own champion”.

Well, it is pretty clear to me that the Champion of Collecting Rowing Memorabilia is, and has been for quite some time: Thomas E Weil!

RRM also has some other interesting exhibits going on right now:

“The Perfect Rower – 100 years of racing for glory”: Find out what made the perfect rower in the previous London Olympic Games in 1908 and 1948 and what it takes to become an Olympic champion in 2012.

“John Piper (1903-1992) – The Gyselynck Collection”: A stunning private collection of Piper’s work exhibited for the first time in the UK.

“Triumphant Thames – The Thiess International River Prize”: A partnership exhibition with the Environment Agency celebrating the dramatic recovery of the River Thames from a biologically dead river in the 1950s to today’s thriving waterway.

“Oarsome – Paintings by Tonia Williams”: Vivid contemporary artwork by the former World Champion and Team GB lightweight oarswoman, Tonia Williams.

“The Best of Our Sporting Life”: This display brings together examples of the some of the best stories collected from around the country.

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