Gifts For Wise Men (And Women) To Bear This Christmas

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Santa is going lightweight next season. Picture: www.canottierilario.it

Tim Koch writes:

Christmas is coming and the goose is getting morbidly obese. At the time of writing there are 27 shopping days remaining – so HTBS readers do not have much time to drop heavy hints to their loved ones about what they would really like to receive on 25 December.

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The best gifts are those things that we would like to own but would not normally buy for ourselves. Usually these are expensive items that fulfil no justifiable need. Top of my list of such items is a splendid ‘coffee table book’ entitled Henley Royal Regatta: A Celebration In Photographs. It is only obtainable from the Henley Royal Regatta Shop whose website tells us:

To mark 175 years of Henley Royal Regatta, Sir Matthew Pinsent, CBE has compiled a visual record, based chiefly on the vast archive of Getty Images. Many of these pictures have never been seen before and, together with images from the HRR archive and contemporary illustrations from the photographer, James Finlay, they combine to form a magnificent tribute to all those who have competed or worked at Henley over the years.

This attractive book, with some 250 illustrations in 224 pages, has been produced to a high standard in large format and printed in full colour. The binding is cloth with a colour laminated dust jacket and the price is £50.00. A limited edition of no more than 175 copies numbered, personalised and signed by Matthew Pinsent are also available. These copies are bound in half-leather with silk head and tail bands and the price is £300.00 per copy. Bound to order in around 4 weeks.

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Sir Matthew with a picture of four skinny young men.

While at Henley I spent a long time looking through a copy and was very impressed. I had not seem many of the archive pictures before and even those that I was familiar with were a source of pleasure as the original negatives (often from large plate cameras) were used where possible. Many ‘classic’ rowing pictures that we see today are copies of prints that have lost the original ‘high definition’ that this book reproduces.

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A 51 x 44 cm print of the picture behind Sir Matthew (Princeton v Leander in the 1934 Grand) is available from the HRR shop for £26.

The HRR shop raises funds to benefit The Stewards’ Charitable Trust which supports rowing projects and activities qualifying for charitable status.

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Henley Royal Regatta monogrammed velvet slippers are available from the HRR Shop. Made to order, they are only £195.

While many ‘HTBS types’ will already own a copy of the wonderful book Rowing Blazers, the publishers, Thames and Hudson, are now tempting those who do not yet have it on their bookshelves. A recent e-mail from them makes this offer:

Searching for the perfect Christmas gift? Let us make it easy for you. For the rowing enthusiast on your Christmas list we recommend Rowing Blazers by Jack Carlson. With more than 250 illustrations, it celebrates the evocative charm of the blazers as worn by oarsmen and women from all over the world along with all the associative anecdotes, histories, myths and rituals that form the mystique of this incredible sport. We would like to extend to you a very special offer of £25.00 per copy (28.5% off the RRP of £34.95, freight inclusive).

To place your order, call Thames and Hudson’s British distributor, Littlehampton Book Services on 01903 828503, quoting ‘TH247’. UK mainland delivery is free, overseas costs are available on request.

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Jack Carlson’s Rowing Blazers, reviewed on HTBS in July.

The internet auction site eBay is an ever changing source of gifts for the rowing history enthusiast. There is a section specifically for rowing memorabilia but other things of interest exist in different categories. I particularly like to search for ‘rowing vanity fair prints’. The ‘Spy’ caricatures of Victorian and Edwardian worthies make wonderful decorative pieces and are often acceptable to partners who normally limit the spread of ‘rowing junk’ throughout the house. The full list of the fifty-nine rowers depicted in the magazine over the years is in the Wiki book, The Rowers of Vanity Fair. One of my favourite such prints is of R.H. Forster of Lady Margaret and Thames and, at the time of writing, one is on sale at a very reasonable ‘buy it now’ price of £19.50.

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R.H. Forster (‘Bill’) by ELF, Vanity Fair, 6 July 1910.

Returning to Henley-on-Thames, Leander Club also has a shop, both real and online, with an assortment of gifts in all price and taste ranges. I like the white Zephyr top for £40 and, for those with suitably low body fat, there is the Lycra all-in-one for £70.

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Buying a Leander all-in-one will make you look like this. Picture: Hélène Rémond.

Finally, if people insist on giving socks as a Christmas present, let’s hope that they are like these pink and black ones from Leander. Unfortunately, the famous Leander all pink socks (cerise, actually) are only available to full members of the club.

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