Another F. S. Kelly ‘Henley Prize’ went under the Hammer

F. S. Kelly

Greg Denieffe writes:

A new Sporting Memorabilia sale by Graham Budd Auctions took place in Sotheby’s, 34-35 New Bond Street, London, on 5 and 6 November. The full catalogue is online and as in recent sales, there were a few lots (240-245) of interest to collectors of rowing memorabilia. Undoubtedly, the star ‘rowing’ item was a Ladies’ Plate Medal won by F. S. Kelly in 1899.

Lot 240

A Henley Regatta prize medal for the Ladies Challenge Cup in 1899 won by Frederick Septimus Kelly, the Eton College Stroke, the rim named to F.S. KELLY. F.S. Kelly later rowed for Oxford and Leander and won a gold medal at the 1908 Olympic Games as a member of the coxed eight. By profession he was a musician and composer. Having survived Gallipoli, Kelly was killed in action in the last days of the Battle of the Somme. Estimate: £300 – £500

Sold for £240 (plus commission, 17,5 %)

Early in 2012, HTBS reported that Kelly’s Pineapple Cup sold at Bonhams for £3,800. This was his prize for winning the 1905 Diamond Challenge Sculls, his third victory in four years. His first win in the Diamonds was for Balliol College, Oxford, when he won in 1902 beating Raymond Etherington-Smith in the final. Balliol College has the sculls in their historic collections centre in St Cross Church. The following year, sculling for Leander Club, he retained his title beating Julius Beresford, and in 1905 he defeated Harry Blackstaffe. Not to be outdone, the River and Rowing Museumin Henley has a 1905 scull in their collection.

Kelly, a New South Welshman by birth – his father was Irish – also won The Grand Challenge Cup at Henley three times in succession (1903-1906), The Stewards’ Challenge Cup in 1906 and a gold medal for Great Britain at the 1908 Olympics in the eights. He is remembered on the Bisham War Memorial.

Two other lots caught my eye:

Lot 244

Rowing programmes, Durham Regatta 22.6.1938; Maidenhead Amateur Regatta 3.8.1929; Henley Royal Regatta 2.7.38 & 5.7.52; Oxford University Summer Eights 26.5.1936, 22.5.1937 & 24.5.46; Oxford v Cambridge Boat Race 30.3.1946; Oxford University Torpids’ Race Card 21.2.1939; the lot also including a 12-page booklet Henley 1839, red cloth boards; and an Ouse Amateur Sailing Club Regatta at Denver (11). Estimate: £130 – £160

Sold for £110 +

A very diverse collection that would probably do well on eBay split into individual lots. The Henley booklet is rather grand considering it only consists of 12 pages.

Lot 245

A portrait of the British rower Tony Butcher by an unknown hand, oil on canvas, 68.5 by 53cm., 27 by 21in., framed. Estimate: £200 – £300

Sold for £150+

I like the composition of this portrait. The decorated oars are clearly important mementos of a rowing career that saw victory in the 1947 University Boat Race (Cambridge) and The Grand Challenge Cup in 1948 (Thames Rowing Club) and participation in the 1948 Olympic Games (Great Britain 4-).

My first thought on seeing this picture was that Cyril Bird would have enjoyed it. He used the pen name ‘Fougasse’ and in 1948 had a cartoon published in Punch with the caption “Yes, I did row a little at one time – why, how did you discover that?”  Perhaps Oscar Wilde was right, when he opined in his 1889 essay The Decay of Lying that, “Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life”.

The other rowing related lots sold for:
241 sold for £160+
242 sold for £240+
243 sold for £100+

All but Lot 245 sold to room bidders.

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