The Mystery of ‘The Silver Man’

Any idea about the background of this rowing trophy?

Now and then, HTBS receives e-mails from readers or others who have come across the blog. Some of these messages are from people who have questions on a topic related to our beloved sport. The other day, HTBS received an e-mail from Desmond in Dublin who has a lovely rowing trophy that he would like some help identifying. Maybe there is someone out there who can tell him (and the rest of us) what he has in his possession?

Desmond writes:

‘You may be able to help me identify a Victorian trophy? It has been in our family home for over 60 years, though we have no connections to the sport of rowing. This trophy is called ‘the silver man’ and stands 33 inches tall from the base to the tip of the oar. It’s Victorian judging by the dress code of the oarsman and the fine detail and the size. I suspect that the trophy may have originated in the UK or Ireland or the colonies (commonwealth) as the previous custodian may have been the recipient. He was an officer in the British Army. I came across your blog and perhaps you or your followers could shed some light on the mystery.’

We will certainly try, Desmond. On top and below are some photographs of the trophy. If you have any ideas, you may send your answers to: gbuckhorn – at –  gmail dot– com and we will post your answers on the blog.

Thank you ~ Göran R Buckhorn


One comment

  1. Had this item been awarded as a prize (which is unlikely), it could presumably have been given anywhere, but the type of cap and dress almost certainly indicate a Continental origin. This genre of sculpture (single male figure wearing a billed cap and standing grasping an upright oar in one hand and raising the other arm – often holding a wreath or trophy in it), typically cast either in bronze or spelter (or some other base metal), which may then be plated, is found in sizes ranging from 8″ on up (this would be unusually tall at 33″). While most of the oarsmen stand somewhat more erect than this, many show a bit of a curve in their stance. As is apparently the case with this piece, identification of the sculptor or foundry is almost never found, and any evidence of a piece being used as a prize is also highly unusual.

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