A 1936 German ‘Silver Man’

Rowing historians Tom Weil and Bill Miller were at the IRA National Championships this past weekend. They were taking care of the ‘rowing history’ bit of the regatta, making sure that those who were interested in the rich history of our sport got some information about the National Rowing Foundation (NRF) and the Rowing Hall of Fame. And at the same time showing off some big ‘rowing pots’. On Saturday evening, the NRF held a ceremony for the Class of 2014, seventeen rowers who were inducted into ‘the Hall’ – all introduced by Miller.

About the weekend’s events, Bill Miller said: ‘Wow! What a great weekend. The regatta was awesome, perfect weather, the NRF banquet went smoothly. The tent display went very well. I was amazed at how excited everyone got when they viewed the trophies, cups and programs. Photographing the trophies was prolific. I think we proved that promoting NRF/rowing history/Hall of Fame is an awesome way to connect with the rowing community and is important.’

One thing that Bill and Tom had on display in their tent was yet another ‘Silver Man’ statue. Somehow, a Tweet with a picture of the ‘Silver Man’ found its way across the pond and ended up on Greg Denieffe’s smart phone. Greg and I sent some messages back and forth late on Sunday afternoon about the statue (this was before I realised that it belonged to Miller). In the evening, I met Bill briefly when he was on his way back home to Massachusetts. I mentioned the ‘Silver Man’ that Greg had seen in a photograph. Bill smiled and unwrapped a small blanket he had in his car. ‘You mean this one?’ he said. And there it was.

Bill told me that it’s German-made, of nickel-plated bronze and a commemorative piece from the 1936 Olympics Games in Berlin. He bought it from Germany a year ago, but it has no markings on it to reveal who made it. He thought it would be a nice statue to bring along to the IRA, as it had a connection to Daniel James Brown’s great story about ‘The Boys in the Boat’.

About the bronze statue that HTBS has had questions about earlier, Bill said: ‘In general, there were many bronzes made over many decades. Some with oarsmen standing, some seated in a boat.’

Many thanks to Bill Miller for sharing his statue with the HTBS’s readers.

One comment

  1. Hi,
    Looking at the plaque on the silver man I have some queries which make me doubt that it's from Germany:
    1. “Olympiade” and “Olympische Sommerspiele” have always been spelled with a “y” in German rather than with an i as in the bronze plaque (and the Nazis didn't change this, as can be seen in contemporary material, e.g. stamps, plaques, posters which you can easily search for in the net).
    2. The Nazis used pure Gothic type rather less often than one might think, they preferred a more modern adaptation. But even in Gothic type texts, Roman numbers are usually only printed with Roman type, therefore the XI should look quite different.
    Could it originate from a country that spells Olimpiad with an i, e.g. from Italy? (Or is it even a fake?)

    Best wishes
    Ulrich

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