Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Iron stones

Shirley Adams, a long-standing collector of curliana from Nepean in the area of Ottawa, has been in touch - see her comment here.

She is the source of two iron curling stones in my collection. The first came from Bob, when he was uncluttering himself before going to work and live abroad when he retired. It had come, he said, from Shirley, whom I met at the Glasgow Silver Broom in 1985.

The other was a direct gift from Shirley to me and it was brought from Nepean to my door by two special couriers, young curling friends of Shirley’s, who were on their way to the Broom at Vasteras. The iron had travelled the whole way from Canada as hand luggage! The body was wrapped in corrugated cardboard and through the top protruded the brass handle – for ease of carrying and identification. The couriers said that the appearance and weight of the object had caused considerable suspicion and much inspection but when they told people that it was 'a present for a ******* judge in Scotland' that seemed to smooth its passage!

We unwrapped it on the kitchen table and hanselled it with several drams of malt whisky, with a very little of which the iron was baptised.

The photograph below shows the two irons beside a conventional stone for comparison. Although the Blue Hone Ailsa is larger it weighs less: it is 37 pounds; the painted iron is 56, and the unpainted one is 60 pounds.

Both the irons ran on a cup of 7.5 inches; that is, the sole of the stone was hollow and only the outer edge was in contact with the ice. The unpainted iron has on its base a stamped maker’s mark: JOHN BRAIDWOOD & SONS MONTREAL, all in a circle round the much larger figure 17.

Irons were the common 'stone' in Lower Canada. Clubs which played with stone stones were generally called 'Granite' clubs to distinguish them from the iron-players. It was as late as the 1940s that the iron players decided to let their irons rust and make common cause with the granite-players.

Top: Two irons and a blue hone.
Above: The makers’ stamp on the sole.


Anonymous said...

I have a couple of men's irons from the Montreal Caledonia Curling Club, where I had been a member in the 1970s. I bought them when it closed around 1983 and they have been sitting in my front hall in Ottawa ever since. ... except for the time we brought them down to try them out on the ice. After a couple of days cooling down to rink temperature, they stopped melting themselves into the ice and we found that the speed ran about the same as a stone. Due to their weight it was darn hard to throw hits and the irons had the interesting property of follow-through on a hit. They also made a boing sound when colliding.

Anonymous said...

I have just aquired an iron curling stone similar to the unpainted one in the picture. It is however rusted. I would like to know if anyone knows what I could use to make the iron stone look like new again!

Let me know at