Oar-some auction: Historic college sports prize up for bid

Apr 21, 2022, 7:05 AM | Updated: 7:16 am

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The 170-year-old prize awarded in the first U.S. intercollegiate sports competition is going up for auction next month.

Sotheby’s estimates the trophy oars from the inaugural Harvard-Yale Regatta will fetch $3-to-$5 million in online bidding May 17-24. Made of black walnut with engraved silver plaques, the oars were presented to the winning Harvard crew on Aug. 3, 1852, 17 years before the first intercollegiate football game and 43 years before the first such basketball game.

“It’s about Harvard and Yale on the surface, but what I think is truly interesting is it’s the real beginning and genesis of the rivalries in college sports that we sort of take for granted today,” said Richard Austin, Sotheby’s global head of books and manuscripts. “It’s just part of America’s cultural fabric.”

The inaugural race between the Ivy League schools was held on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire after a Yale oarsman from the state struck a marketing deal with a regional railroad line looking to boost ridership. New Hampshire’s own Franklin Pierce, who was elected president three months later, presented the prize.

“The story is so American,” Austin said in an interview Wednesday. “Why it started there was just sort of luck, but it was luck interspersed with commerce and then layered with this political campaign.”

Never before auctioned, the oars were discovered decades ago by a family cleaning out the basement of a Medford, Massachusetts, rooming house they had purchased.

“They’ve been with the family for the last 40 years,” Austin said. “How they ended up in that building and where they were in the interim is sort of a mystery lost to the ages, but I think it is great that they were rediscovered.”

With a few exceptions, the regatta has been an annual event since 1859. It’s currently held on the Thames River in Connecticut. The 155th regatta, set for June 11, will be the first since 2019.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


This photo provided by Robert Wilkes, owner of a house boat management company, shows smoke rising ...

Associated Press

Houseboats catch fire while docked at Wahweap Marina on Lake Powell

More than half a dozen house boats momentarily caught fire at a popular boating destination on the Utah-Arizona line on Friday.

3 days ago

File - Women work in a restaurant kitchen in Chicago, Thursday, March 23, 2023. On Friday, the U.S....

Associated Press

US hiring, unemployment jump in May and what that says about the economy

The nation’s employers stepped up their hiring in May, adding a robust 339,000 jobs, well above expectations.

3 days ago

(Pixabay Photo)...

Associated Press

Oath Keeper from Arizona sentenced for role in Jan. 6 riot at US Capitol

Edward Vallejo, a U.S. Army veteran from Phoenix, oversaw a “Quick Reaction Force” at a Virginia hotel that was prepared to deploy an arsenal of weapons into Washington if needed, authorities say.

4 days ago

FILE - U.S. Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz listens during a news conference, Jan. 5, 2023, in Washi...

Associated Press

US Border Patrol chief is retiring after seeing through end of Title 42 immigration restrictions

The head of the U.S. Border Patrol announced Tuesday that he was retiring, after seeing through a major policy shift that seeks to clamp down on illegal crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border following the end of Title 42 pandemic restrictions.

5 days ago

FILE - President Joe Biden talks with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of Calif., on the House steps as...

Associated Press

House OKs debt ceiling bill to avoid default, sends Biden-McCarthy deal to Senate

The House approved a debt ceiling and budget cuts package late Wednesday, as President Joe Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy assembled a bipartisan coalition of centrist Democrats and Republicans against fierce conservative blowback and progressive dissent.

5 days ago

Sean Bickings (Family Photo via city of Tempe)...

Associated Press

Family of man who drowned last year in Tempe Town Lake files wrongful death lawsuit

The family of a man who drowned in Tempe Town Lake a year ago filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city Wednesday, noting that its police department doesn't have a policy requiring officers to go into the water to save someone.

5 days ago

Sponsored Articles



Why drug-free weight loss still matters

Wanting to lose weight is a common goal for many people as they progress throughout life, but choosing between a holistic approach or to take medicine can be a tough decision.


OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center

How to identify the symptoms of 3 common anxiety disorders

Living with an anxiety disorder can be debilitating and cause significant stress for those who suffer from the condition.

(Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona Photo)...

Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona

5 common causes for chronic neck pain

Neck pain can debilitate one’s daily routine, yet 80% of people experience it in their lives and 20%-50% deal with it annually.

Oar-some auction: Historic college sports prize up for bid