Friday, September 18, 2020

Curling in adverts

Curling owes much to its major sponsors. Other businesses help in other ways, by advertising in curling magazines, on websites, and in event programmes. Adverts in old programmes become more interesting as the years go by. During lockdown I found myself avidly scouring old curling event programmes and magazines for items of interest. Adverts I found could be classified into three types. There are those of businesses related to the sport, and these usually have a curling 'theme'. Other adverts were for companies whose page in the programme just used a generic non-curling image taken from stock. But I was impressed with those companies, big and small, who had spent time and money to design an advert with a curling related theme, even though their business was not related to the sport itself.
Here are some I like from years past.
This advert ran for many months in the Scottish Curler magazine in the 1950s. It still makes me smile!
This 7-UP ad from the 1960s (or even the 1950s) was for a Canadian readership. 
Here's the same company using a cartoon, in an advert of the same vintage.
Johnnie Walker Scotch Whisky adverts were always of a high quality. This curling one appeared in the programme for the 1972 Air Canada Silver Broom at Garmisch Partenkirchen.
Here's a smaller company, with a simple but effective advert, which took space in the programme for the Glayva World Ladies, at Lake Forest, Chicago, in 1987.
Nothing but the highest quality for Guinness! I don't have the dates when this advert was used.

The Clydesdale Bank prepared this advert for the programme sold at the 1975 Silver Broom in Perth, Scotland.

Here's an advert for a Canadian Rye Whisky. It appeared in the programme for the 1978 Air Canada Silver Broom in Winnipeg. That's a Common Ailsa stone in the background, but look closely for the corn broom and the pin badges in the foreground.

This advert appeared in the programme for the 1995 Bank of Scotland World Junior Curling Championships at Perth, Scotland. Who is the curler?

A local business, whose founder and management all curled, stepped forward to support the World Women's Championship programme in 2005 at the Lagoon Leisure Centre, Paisley, Scotland.

In the era before smart phones, how many of us had a Nokia mobile? This simple, but clever, advert appeared in Ford World Championships programme for Lausanne, in 2001.

Even small businesses supported an international event in their community. This full page ad, for a local petrol (gas) station, appeared in the programme for the 2008 World Men's Championship in Grand Forks, North Dakota, USA. I wonder how many WCF events have had an 'Official Gas Station'?
If I had to pick a favourite curling advert, it would be this one by Manitoba Hydro. OK, the punk rock era was well before 2008 when this advert appeared in the Canadian Curling Association's Extra End publication, doubling as the programme for the Tim Horton's Brier in Winnipeg. 

Simple and clever. Full marks to the creative team at Keith's Brewery who devised this advert, which appeared in Curling Canada's Extra End publication, serving here as the programme for the Ford World Women's in 2008, in Vernon, BC. (Here in Scotland twist-off tops like this have never been common.)
Ford continues to be a great curling sponsor. Here is an advert that appeared on the back cover of the Canadian Curling Association's Extra End publication which was the programme for the World Men's Championship in Moncton, New Brunswick, in 2009.

The above adverts are just a few of many. Congratulations to the innovative minds of the designers. In other categories we might look out the most innovative advert by a curling rink equipment provider, or a business which sells curling clothing and accessories. But that will be for another lockdown!

All images are from my own collection.

ADDED LATER: David Sgriccia of the Detriot Curling Club has forwarded this Stanfield’s Underwear advert which ran in newspapers throughout Canada in 1954 and 1955. Full marks!

David says, "It used to be said that if you were nervous before public speaking, then should imagine your audience in their underwear.  Well, now if you are going to be curling against top-notch opponents you just have to imagine them in their underwear!"

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Did Carlo Pellegrini win an Olympic Gold in 1912 for a painting of a curling scene?

Carlo Pellegrini (1866-1937) provided the artwork for many postcards. Above is a favourite from my own postcard collection. It shows a game in progress on outside ice, in a snow covered landscape. It was published by Vouga and Cie, Geneva, as D10 of a series. It is postally unused and is not dated.

Some months ago I decided that Pellegrini's postcards might make an interesting and colourful post on the Curling History Blog. I set out to find more about the artist, and immediately became fascinated with what I discovered.

Firstly, he should not be confused with his father, also Carlo Pellegrini, the well known caricaturist known as 'Ape'. Carlo Pellegrini of postcard fame was born on October 26, 1866, in Albese con Cassano, in the Province of Como, Italy. He studied at the Brera Academy in Milan, and around 1900 moved to Switzerland. He painted in oils and tempura and was inspired by the winter landscapes and activities of the Engadine, in the south-east of the Swiss Alps. He provided the artwork for many postcards and posters. He died in Geneva in 1937 at the age of 70.

Did you know that there used to be art competitions at the Olympic Games? In 1912, the first of these was held in Stockholm as part of the Fifth Olympiad. In the paintings section of the art competition the Olympic Gold Medal was awarded to Carlo Pellegrini for his submission of 'Three connected friezes representing Winter Sports'.

On learning this, I immediately wondered if one of the 'friezes' showed a curling scene? Would that not be an exciting discovery! I searched the digital world for the artwork, initially with no success.

Information was available about the Olympic competition, and the Official Report was my first stop.

This can be downloaded from here.

Here's the record of Pellegrini's win as noted in the Official Report. Note that his name is misspelled, and his first initial is incorrect, although, as I discovered later, 'G' is his middle initial.

The Official Report has the information that the Stockholm Games included competitions in Architecture, Sculpture, Painting, Music, and Literature. The Jury only considered subjects not previously published, exhibited or performed, and having some direct connection with sport. And that the winner of each of the five competitions would be awarded the 'Gold Olympic Medal'. The exhibits selected were, as far as possible, to be published, exhibited or performed during the Olympic Games of 1912. Competitors had to notify their intention of entering for one or more of these competitions before January 15, 1912, and the exhibits themselves had to be in the hands of the jury before March 1, 1912. There were no limitations as to size or form for manuscripts, plans, drawings or canvasses, but sculptors were required to send in clay models, not exceeding eighty centimetres in height, length or width.

Pelligrini's work was deemed to be the only submission worthy of a medal in the paintings category, and silver and bronze medals were not awarded. It is not stated how many entries there were in the paintings category.

All the medallists' work was exhibited to the public in special premises at 10 Karlavagen, Stockholm.

It was at this point that I came across an article entitled 'Postcard and Poster Artist Carlo Pellegrini, Jr (1866-1937)' by Henry Gessler, which can be found here. This mentions the 'disappearance' of the Olympic paintings. Tantalisingly, the author says, "Recently a large litho (Vouga Series 211 #2), of one of them, has come to light."

It is due to the work of Richard Stanton that I've learned more about the Olympic Art Competitions, and Pellegrini's three friezes of winter sports. 

'The Forgotten Olympic Art Competitions', by Richard Stanton, was published in 2000 by Trafford, BC, Canada. It is the result of painstaking research, and is a remarkable work, containing just about everything you need to know about the Olympic Art Competitions in the twentieth century. It runs to 412 pages. Just how these competitions came to be included in the Olympics is a fascinating read. It had been a vision of Baron Pierre de Coubertin, who was responsible for re-establishing the modern Olympic Games in 1896, to include the fine arts alongside sports. He faced many obstacles, but it was at Stockholm that he realised his dream. Stanton charts the journey. Stockholm was a 'first step', and was only a partial success, the inclusion of a Concours d'Art failing to to receive the support of Swedish art associations.

After his book was published Richard Stanton maintained an interest in Carlo Pellegrini and the 'lost friezes'. He made contact with Henry Gessler, and in 2016 wrote an article for the Journal of Olympic History titled, 'Lost Artwork from the 1912 Olympic Art Competition Emerges'. That's a screenshot of part of the first page above, and shows an image of Carlo Pellegrini. Read the whole article here. Stanton writes that two of the three friezes can now be identified. He reproduces one of them in the article. It is a skiing scene. I recognised this immediately.

On January 28, 2009, three chomolithographs went on sale at Christie's in London. All three had been published by Vouga and Cie, Geneva, the company already mentioned as associated with Pellegrini's postcards.

This is the auction house description of one of the lots: 'WINTER BEGINS', chromolithograph, published by Vouga and Cie., Genève (Série 220, No.1), not backed. 9½ x 41in. (24 x 104cm.) 

This lot sold for £1375. And it is this image that Stanton reproduces in his 2016 article with the evidence that it is a reproduction of one the Olympic paintings! 

Stanton does not reproduce, nor describe, the second of the missing friezes that has come to light. But he does indicate that a reproduction was also sold by Christie's in the same 2009 sale as the chromolithograph described above. Two other Pellegrini lots were in that sale, and one IS a curling scene! Here it is:

The auction house described this lot: 'CURLING - CHESS ON ICE', chromolithograph, published by Vouga, Genève (Série 220, No.2), not backed. 9½ x 41in. (24 x 104cm.) This sold for £1062. 

In my opinion this is an accurate portrayal of a curling match on outside ice in Switzerland in the first decade of the twentieth century. Curling was popular in that country at that time, many resort hotels having their own curling rinks. To study 'Curling - Chess on Ice' in more detail I have divided the scene into three, but have not removed the yellow cast that is on the image on Christie's website from the 2009 sale.

The left side of the artwork shows two players, both with brooms, four seated spectators, and one other standing figure, perhaps the umpire. There are six stones in view, and an apparently discarded corn broom.

The middle of the scene shows two sweepers both using corn brooms. The curler on the left may be the player who has delivered the stone and followed it up, although it could be a member of the opposing team watching to see the result of the play.

The right side of the scene shows the skip directing the play, the opposition skip and a member of the opposition team. A tee-marker (sometimes referred to as a 'dolly') marks the centre of circles scraped on the ice. The artist's signature is at the bottom right of the piece.

Overall, the condition of the artwork, with its mottled appearance, reflects its age and perhaps how well it had been stored. I wonder if the purchaser has had it restored? And who did buy it in 2009? Has it changed hands since? Does anyone reading this article recognise this artwork?

Unfortunately, I do NOT have confirmation that this is the image that appeared in one of the original Olympic paintings. I feel that it is likely to be so. Both the curling scene, and 'Winter Begins', are reproductions from the same Vouga and Cie Series 220, and are the same size, long and narrow. That's not to say that the original paintings would have been the same size as the reproductions.

The other Pellegrini in the Christie's sale in 2009 is shown below, again with the auction house description.

Christie's description: 'ICE DANCE', chromolithograph, published by Vouga and Cie, Genève (Série 225, No.1), not backed. 9 x 23½in. (23 x 60cm.) 

This sold for £1750. Note the size difference to that of the other lithographs.

Have the original Olympic paintings survived? Surely they would be known of if they had. Henry Gessler notes that Pellegrini's main publisher had been Vouga and Cie, of Geneva, 'until they had a disastrous fire, in which most of his originals were destroyed, probably including the Stockholm Gold Medal trio'. How sad, if that is indeed the case.

Stanton also writes that the diploma, which was awarded alongside Pellegrini's gold medal, is in the Olympic museum in Lausanne.

My own postcard collection contains more examples of Pellegrini's curling artwork.

This original postcard was published by Vouga and Cie. It is postally unused. Not dated. No 43 in a series. A stylish delivery from a crampet, with a corn broom alongside.

Another original, No 45 in the same series, showing sweepers in action. Postally used. The cancel is not clear, but could be 1911. This would fit in with the age of the stamp which was in use in the years 1909 to 1914. Sent from St Moritz to Hamburg.

This is a Photoglob reproduction, No 3319 of 'Edition Photoglob SA, 8045 Zurich'. This has the following printed (in French) on the reverse. It is a letter from Baron de Coubertin to the artist. "Dear Mr Pellegrini. The King gave me on Monday at the distribution of the prizes the gold medal which is intended as laureat of the painting competition. I'll bring it back to you on my return if you like. Very friendly congratulations and sincerely yours. Pierre de Coubertin, International Olympic Committee V Stockholm 1912, Saltijobaden (Sweden) 7/20/12."  (Thanks to Google for the translation.)

I have two other Pellegrini images in my postcard collection. His images were used on promotional postcards for the Palazzo del Ghiaccio, an ice centre in Milan.

The reverse of the card. The rink opened in December 1923, see here, which suggests that Pellegrini was still working around this time.

Here's another card from the same series which shows curling - a backswing during a crampet delivery. There's no evidence that curling was ever played in the Milan rink. Others in the same series of cards show different sports. 

The search for more information on Pellegrini's three friezes showing winter sports goes on. I think we are close to being able to conclude that the sport of curling featured on one of them. I look forward to being able to say definitively that a painting of the sport of curling won an Olympic gold medal at Stockholm in 1912, twelve years before the sport itself featured in the first 'Winter Olympics' at Chamonix in 1924, see here. Updates will be posted here when more information comes to light.

Other than the images from the 2009 Christie's sale, which are from that company's website, all are from my own postcard collection, or as indicated. As noted above, the work of Richard Stanton has contributed greatly to my knowledge of Olympic Art Competitions. These were abolished after the London Games in 1948.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Curling stones and curling stone makers

Not all curling stones originate on Ailsa Craig. This was particularly true at the end of the nineteenth century when you could buy curling stones of a variety of types, as David Smith wrote in a blog article, see here. Back then, if you wanted to curl, you had to purchase a pair of stones for your own use on outside ice. There was a variety of stone types to chose from, such as Burnock Water, Crawfordjohn, Carsphairn, Crieff Serpentine, Tinkernhill and of course three types of Ailsas (Red Hone, Blue Hone, and Common). Where exactly had the different types of stone come from, and who had made the raw material into curling stones?

Just before lockdown, I attended an auction viewing, at McTear's Auctioneers in Glasgow, where the contents of Partick Curling Club's house in Victoria Park were to go on sale (above). It was fascinating to look at the many stones, and to try to identify them. A few days later I followed the auction online, and I believe the sale went off successfully. It was sad in a way that such a sale had to take place, but hopefully all the lots went to good new homes with collectors and curling enthusiasts. One such is Graeme Adam, my old skip, who has an unrivalled collection of stones of different types.

Back in March, Graeme involved Lindsay Scotland, mastermind of the Historical Curling Places site, to begin thinking of a map with which might show where the various curling stone types originated, and also where these materials were turned into curling stones.

This map has now gone online. Above is a screenshot of just part of the map. The full map shows 'places' as far north as Inverness, and as far south as Trefor in Wales, and is here.

The map currently has fourteen ‘makers’ and nine ‘quarries’. It works in the same fashion as the existing maps on the Historical Curling Places site. Zoom in, click on a place, and click through for more detailed information.

I was happy to assist with the project in a small way. Harold Forrester, expert 'pondhunter', has also helped. I had already written about the source of 'Crawfordjohn' curling stones, here, and 'Carsphairns', here.

As the project developed, it soon became clear that research would lead us into the very disparate areas of geography, geology, industrial archaeology, and social history. I'll mention here just three examples of new information which has come to light.

The first concerns the origins of Kays in Mauchline, the company that still makes curling stones today. The original company of T and A Kay was begun by two brothers, Thomas Kay and Andrew Kay, around 1876. Andrew, the younger brother, married Catherine Kirk at Ochiltree in 1877, and, according to the census in 1881, the couple were living at the Haugh, with three daughters (age 3, 2 and 8 months). In that year Andrew was described as a curling stone manufacturer with thirty employees.
Andrew Kay died on June 23, 1887, at just 32 years old.
In his book 'Curling: an illustrated history', David Smith suggests that Andrew Kay's widow 'evicted' her brother-in-law. I've never been happy with this. The opposite may have been true, and she had to fight to keep her share of the business.
There was legal action, and the business of T and A Kay went to auction, the details of which can be found in the Ayr Advertiser in 1888. Thomas Kay won the auction, and thus took the business name. He did not get the premises at Haugh because these were rented from Sir Claud Alexander. Catherine was able to keep hold of these. She then developed a successful company under a new name, Andrew Kay and Company. Thomas Kay also continued to make curling stones and moved into Mauchline. The two companies were rivals for some years thereafter.

Catherine Kay had more than her fair share of grief in her life. At the beginning of 1887, she and Andrew now had four children, and she was pregnant again. At 11.55 pm on June 18 and at 30 minutes past midnight on June 19, 1887, she gave birth to twins, Andrew and Thomas - no doubt named after her husband and his brother.

Four days later, on June 23, 1887, her husband Andrew died, age just 32. Then on July 20 and 22 both the twins died. It must have been a heartbreaking time for Catherine. But she was a strong enough woman to fight for her livelihood, and become the owner of a successful business. There's much much more to be written about her life, but that will be for another time. I'm still looking for a photograph of this remarkable woman who deserves to be better known. Look at the linked page on the map to read of the history of the Andrew Kay Company through the twentieth century.

One mention in an old newspaper shows that Catherine Kay obtained the rights to a quarry on the Sorn estate. After a bit of research, I found this to be a quarry on Tin Corn Hill (which is still operational today). At some point, when communication was mostly verbal, the name of the stone was garbled as 'Tinkernhill' and it is by this name that stones from this quarry became known to curlers of the time.

The Scottish Curling Stone Company began life in the 1960s in Polmadie in Glasgow. I was excited to find the image above showing the inside of the factory. This was the front cover of the North American Curling News of November, 1966. The Polmadie area has long since been redeveloped, and I do not know exactly where these premises were. I'm wondering if they were in part of the old locomotive works? The company was to move to Inverness later in the decade. The image is a rare one indeed, and captures a moment in time in the sport's history. The stone being used was from Ailsa Craig, to which the company had the rights at the time.

Finally, the name 'Keanie' turns up often in any study of curling stone makers. The new map has four 'Keanie' entries. I had been intrigued a couple of years ago, when visiting the National Library of Scotland at the Kelvin Hall, to find a relatively recent photograph of a Keanie Company based in Bellshill, Glasgow. When looking for information on this company, I came across a similar image and an article in The Sphere newspaper from October 1954. It shows curling stones being packed into barrels to be shipped to Canada. What sort of stone were these made from? The image caption reads, 'Curling stones earn dollars for Britain', so it is clear that most of the stones were to be exported to North America.

The penny dropped when looking at the website of the Canada Curling Stone Company, in Ontario. The company today makes new stones using Welsh Trefor, and refurbishes old stones. On their page titled 'granite types' see here, there is a description of 'Keanie' stone, below.

I recognised this material immediately as I had visited the quarries at Furnace on Loch Fyne a year ago. From this article I knew that Furnace had supplied curling stone blanks, as well as granite setts for roads, in the 1950s. It was clear that 'Keanie' stone was from Furnace, and so the curling stones exported in 1954 by the Keanie Company in Bellshill were made from stone from the side of Loch Fyne. I have a wonderful image in my mind of the stone blanks being transported from the quarry by puffer! Since then the quarry at Furnace has been opened up again and is part of the Breedon Group, see here. But the days of that quarry supplying curling stone material are long past.

The curling stone and curling stone makers project is very much a work in progress. To quote David Smith from 2008, "I personally couldn’t recognise a Blantyre, whether black or silver grey, and although I know where Muthill and Earnock are, I have no idea what a stone bearing the name of these places looks like. As for Giells, is this a place or a person?" Yes, there's still much more to be discovered. 

Lindsay Scotland says, "We would welcome any more information that is out there, whether that would be new places, and corrections to, or expansion of, what we currently have documented." 

Thanks, as always, to the British Newspaper Archive. The image of 'Keanie' stone is from the Canada Curling Stone website. The other images are from my own archive, or are as indicated. 

Thursday, June 04, 2020

A Successful Season for Wanlockhead curlers

I have this old postcard in my collection. It has not been sent through the post, but was in the past stuck in someone's album. In pencil, written on the back is 'Wanlockhead Curling Club from Miss Flo Mitchell, Thornhill'. I recognised two of the trophies, and thought I would try to identify those in the photograph.

Scanning the photograph, and cleaning it up, the Wanlockhead curlers can be seen clearly. The trophy in the centre is the Grand Match Challenge Trophy, and one on the left is the Waterlow Cup, and that on the right is the Fraser Cup (a Wanlock Curling Club trophy). Note too the curling stones and broom hidden in the grass.

The information I needed was easy to find, as the photograph had been reproduced in the Royal Caledonian Curling Club Annual for 1912-13. The curlers' names, according to the Annual, are:

Back row: Robert Jamieson, J Hoatson, William McMillan, T Gilchrist

Middle: William Laidlaw, Hugh Nicol, W Jamieson, William Stevenson (Secretary), William Mitchell, R Nicol

Front: Alex Brown, John Wilson, John Kerr (Vice President), J Edmond (President), W Kerr

Here is the membership of the Wanlock Curling Club as at September 16, 1912. All the names accompanying the photograph are members of the club, except 'J Hoatson'. The Wanlockhead Curling Society is amongst the oldest curling clubs in the country, with minutes dating back to 1777. The club did not join the Royal Caledonian Curling Club until 1905, and then with a slightly different name, the 'Wanlock Curling Club'. This was after the railway reached the village - in 1902 - which made it easier for curlers to travel to national competitions, such as the Grand Match.

The Wanlock curlers had been successful at the Grand Match at Carsebreck, on February 2, 1912. The club had won the Challenge Trophy, being the Club on the winning side having the highest average majority. They had entered two rinks, and been drawn against two rinks from the St Fillans CC. The Wanlock team skipped by John Kerr beat Duncan McIntyre's side 25-6, and that skipped by J Y Wilson beat Donald Sharp 26-5, average majority 20.

Four Badges were also awarded to the Wanlock Club Rink (J Y Wilson, skip), which had the highest majority of shots (23).

The Wanlock rinks' success helped the South to victory over the North, by 3477 shots to 3038.

The report in the Annual for 1912-13 says, "In the opinion of those who have had long experience of curling there has never been a finer match on Carsebreck. The sheet of ice was magnificent, smooth, black, and thick, and held splendidly throughout the day. A bracing north-east wind prevailed, and overhead the sky was a vast expanse of blue with never a cloud to fleck it, and although the sun shone brilliantly the ice remained keen."

Just four days after the Grand Match, on Tuesday, February 6, the Wanlock curlers were in action again, this time on the Castle Loch, Lochmaben, winning the Waterlow Cup, a competition just for the curling clubs of Dumfriesshire. It had been five years since the previous competition, and 114 rinks (456 players), representing thirty clubs, took part.

A report in the Newcastle Daily Chronicle recorded, "Play commenced at 11 o'clock, and concluded at 3 pm, the result of the contest being announced by Provost Halliday, Lochmaben."

Wanlock were the winners of the Cup, with the highest average shots per rink. Sanquhar was second, and Hoddam, third.

"Miss Yorstoun, East Tinwald, presented the trophy to the most successful rink of the Wanlockhead Club, the members of which were J Wilson (skip), W Wilson, James Gass and A Brown, who gained 42 shots over an Annan rink, skipped by T Gray."

Three of these Wanlockhead curlers are listed in the Annual, and in the photograph, but the third player 'W Wilson' is not.

Tuesday, February 6, 1912, was a busy day for curling. The Scotland v England match was held on Craigielands Loch on that date.

The other trophy in the photograph is identified in the Annual as the Fraser Cup. This was for club competition. Had it not been for the current lockdown, I might well have been heading for the Museum of Lead Mining in Wanlockhead to see if the minutes of the Wanlock Club contain information about that club competition. Above is a photo of the Miners' Library at the museum, where the curling minutes are kept. The museum is currently closed, of course. But do plan to visit in the future.

An interesting challenge I now face is to find out what the role of the curlers named in the photograph was in the life and work of Wanlockhead. And of course I have to search for the mysterious 'J Hoatson' who appears in the photograph, and the 'W Wilson' in the newspaper report, neither of whom seem to have been accredited club members!

One name is already familiar to me, that of John Redmond, the Club's President, about whom I've written, see here, in connection with the school curling club!

On the evening of Friday, March 15, 1912, an 'enthusiastic social meeting' was held in Wanlockhead to 'round off the winter's play and successes in a social meeting and dance'. The company numbered about one hundred and thirty. After the presentation of prizes, Mrs Edmonds, the President's wife, sang 'Wanlock's Curlers':

We sent oor team off tae the curlin',
To Carsebreck to join in the play;
The South - their side - won, they enjoyed the fun.
And we 're happy tae meet them to-day.

Then a cheer for oor staunch Wanlock curlers,
And lang may they join in the play,
Lose or win, all the same, may they aye 'play the game',
And 'oppose' men who act the same way.

A' conditions were set fair for curlin'.
Baith rinks strove for victory like men.
At the finish they stood 40 shots to the good,
So the trophy comes hame tae oor glen.


Wi' a right hearty welcome we greet you,
We've some right tae be prood o' your game,
Let the men o' the North bring their 'Saint's arm' forth,
Strength and skill we can match wi' that same.


Oor auld mither at Wanlock's nae chicken,
For her sons a lang century ago
Took the hill weel arrayed, wi' their stane in their plaid,
To help friend or quaten a foe.


To the memory o' Wanlock's past curlers,
To the present ones - equal in fame,
And, true to the breed, may their sons who succeed
Strive as nobly to 'lead' in 'the game'.


The photo of the miners' library was taken by me. The membership list of the Wanlock CC comes from the Annual of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club for 1912-13.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The Silver Broom 1969

This is the cover of the programme for the Air Canada Silver Broom World Men's Curling Championship, March 18-22, 1969, at the Central Scotland Ice Rink, Perth. Air Canada had taken up the sponsorship the previous year, and the first Silver Broom had been held at Pointe Claire, Quebec, in March, 1968. Previously the competition had been sponsored by the Scotch Whisky Association from 1959 to 1967. The International Curling Federation (later to become the World Curling Federation) had been formed, and the Silver Broom became the 'official' World Curling Championship. The event at Perth was the second Silver Broom.

A new trophy had to be created, and this is it. The broom in the centre was a two-thirds replica in silver of a Canadian style curling broom. Interestingly, the silver plaques on the left had the names of all nine winning teams of the Scotch Cup. The top plaque on the right had the winners of the first Silver Broom competition in 1968.

Eight countries would contest for the world title. The pages of the programme with team details looked very colourful, with the national flags. The competing countries are listed in the order they joined the world championship. Here are the first four teams.

I've scanned the team photographs. Scotland. From left: Alec Young (lead), Derek Scott (second), Bill Muirhead (skip), George Haggart (third). The notes alongside the photo say, "This rink, although new to world championship curling, has been a a strong contender for several years to represent Scotland. Skip Muirhead, a potato merchant, lives at Scone and is secretary of St Martin's Curling Club. Canadians have seen him play as a member of the Chuck Hay rink in CBC TV colour series on curling which has been running since January and will conclude with the coverage of the final of the Silver Broom. George Haggart, from Crieff, also a potato merchant, and a former skip of this rink, has also played with Hay in the Tournament of Champions. Derek Scott, second, is a haulage contractor. He comes from Errol where he is also well-known as a footballer with a blazing shot. Alec Young, the lead, farms at Newton of Lathrisk at Freuchie in Fife."

The Muirhead team had won the Bertola-sponsored Scottish Championship finals, February 28 - March 2. This involved ten teams in a round robin, three games each day.

The Canadian team. (L-R) Ron Northcott (skip), Dave Gerlach (third), Bernie Sparkes (second), Fred Storey (lead). The programme notes read, "They won the Scotch Cup, forerunner of the present world event, in 1966 at Vancouver and won the Air Canada Silver Broom at Pointe Claire, Quebec, last March. The fame of this rink is justly earned. Northcott has skipped it into an unprecedented record of six times in seven years as Alberta's representatives in the 'Brier' - Canada's National Championships - inning that event three times. Northcott, 33, an oil equipment salesman, is married with two children. Lead Fred Story, 38, is an accounting supervisor in business life, and second Bernie Sparkes, 29, youngest member of the rink, is a salesman. Bernie is also married with two children. Third, Dave Gerlach, is new to the Northcott rink."

To be clear, Northcott's two previous successes had been with two different third players, George Fink in 1966, and Jimmie Shields in 1968.

Watch the promotional film of the 1969 MacDonald Brier in Oshawa, Ontario, here. (A feast for lovers of corn broom sweeping!)

The USA team (L-R) Gene Oveson (lead), Franklin Bradshaw (second), Bill Strum (third), Bud Somerville (skip). The notes say, "No one who was present will ever forget the scenes of enthusiasm in Perth Ice Rink in 1965 when Bud Somerville and his rink broke the Canadian stranglehold of the competition to win the World Championship for the United States. Bill Strum was third player in that rink which beat Terry Brauntein and his Canadian champions in a memorable final in which Bud Somerville gave a brilliant individual performance. The same US rink played in the world event at Point Claire last year. This year, Bud introduced a new lead and second player and the rink won the US national title at Grand Forks."

Team Sweden. From left: Christer Wessel (skip and lead), Kjell Oscarius (fourth), Bengt Oscarius (third), Boa Carlman (second). "This young rink represents Sweden for the first time. They have played together for four years and their major success before winning the Swedish title was winning the 1968-69 Solstad Cup. They are members of the Djursholms Curling Club of Stockholm. Skip Wessel (25) and Kjell Oscarius were the male part of the 1968 mixed champions. Wessel is a student and lists rugby as his favourite sport. Kjell Oscarius is also 25, single and a student. Bengt Oscarius is married with a daughter and in business as a salesman with the 3M Company. Boa Carlman is the third member of the rink who is 25, and a student, and these three have curled together for six years. Bengt is the 'newcomer' having played with the rink for four years."

The second page with the other four teams.

Switzerland (L-R) Kurt Schneider (lead), Jean-Pierre Muhlemann (second), Mario Bettosini (third), Heinz Beutler (skip). "The Swiss Rink this year, from Bern Zahringer, are new to world competition and the rink has been together for only two years. Skip Heinz Beutler started curling in 1962 and also lists football and swimming as favourite sports. He is married and has two children. Third player, Mario Bettosini, started curling in 1964 to add to his other sporting activities in tennis, skiing, swimming and handball. He is married and in the insurance business. Jean-Pierre Muhlemann, second, is married with three children. He also has been curling for five years as well as skiing, swimming and playing tennis. Lead, Kurt Schneider, took up curling in 1967. His other sports interests are in boxing and football (he is a member of the managing committee of the Young Boys, Bern). He is married with a daughter.

Norway (L-R) Erik Gyllenhammar (skip), Sverre T Michelsen (third), Nils Anton Riise-Hanssen (second), Kai Dyvik (lead). "The Norwegian curling champions from the Bygdoy Curling Club of Oslo have curled together since 1960. All are business executives, married, and in addition to curling pursue other sports. Skip Gyllenhammar, who won the Individual Curling Championship in 1966, also enjoys skiing and sailing. He was a member of the first ever Norwegian Curling Team to tour Scotland in November 1965. Sverre Michelsen adds tennis to ski jumping and sailing as his other sports activities. Kai Dyvik is another skiing fan while Nils Anton Riise-Hanssen lists riding as his other favourite sport."

France (L-R) Pierre Boan (skip), Andre Mabboux (third), Yves Vallet (second), Richard Duvillard (lead). "Pierre Boan, skip of the French Champions from Mont D'Arbois, is a veteran of World Curling Championship play. He was a member of the 1967 rink skipped by Jean-Albert Sulpice at Perth and skip of the 1968 French team for the Silver Broom at Point Claire, Quebec. He was also National Champion in 1965 and 1966. France did not enter world play until 1966. Third Andre Mabboux only started curling in 1967 and second and lead players Yves Vallet and Richard Duvillard only started curling last year! The success of this rink may be due in part to the fact that all members are active in several other sports including skiing, ice hockey, water skiing and bowling and they brought all-round sporting skill with them when they took up curling. Richard Duvillard is a cousin of Henri Duvillard, French ski champion, and Adrien Duvillard, world champion professional skier."

Germany (L-R) Rolf Klug (second), Heinz Kellner (lead), Werner Fischer-Weppler (skip), Herbert Kellner (third). "Werner Fischer-Weppler, skip of the German champions, was recently elected President of the German Curling Association. This is the second year his rink has represented Germany in world competition. The third and lead, Herbert and Heinz Kellner are father and son who also share tennis as a family sport. Dr Rolf Klug, second, is now playing in his third world championship. He was a member of the German rink that played in Perth in 1967 in the final Scotch Cup event. Dr Klug is also an ardent tennis player and well-known administrator. The rink comes from the Eisclub Bad Toelz."

The format of the competition in 1969 was a round robin, with the second and third placed rinks contesting a semifinal game, for the right to meet the first placed team in the final. After the round robin, the teams' win-loss records were as follows:

Canada 6-1
USA 5-2
Scotland 5-2
Sweden 4-3
Switzerland 3-4
Germany 2-5
France 2-5
Norway 1-6

Canada's loss was to the USA in Round 5, 10-12. Every nation won at least one game. It is interesting to look at individual game scores on the archived results on the World Curling Federation (here). Scores, such as Canada's defeat of Norway by 28-2, suggest that some games were very one-sided, and that all twelve ends were played out. Unfortunately the full linescores for any game at the event have not survived, and only final scores are shown in the archived records.

In the semifinal, USA beat Scotland 7-5, and in the final Canada beat the USA 9-6.

The report in the April 1969 Scottish Curler notes that Somerville's side came back from 0-6 down after three ends to be just 6-7 behind after ten. They blanked the eleventh, but Northcott counted two in the last end, without the need to play his final stone. The magazine reports that the ice 'became duller' in the twelfth, the US stones falling short.
There's one other inconsistency in the WCF's archived results. These show the lineup in the Swedish team as Kjell Oscarius as skip, but the programme notes (and indeed the Scottish Curler magazine) name Oscarius as the fourth player. Christer Wessel was skip and he played lead stones.

Tom Stewart was Chairman of the Organising Committee. Just who put the programme together is not stated, although it was printed by Mackenzie and Storrie, Coburg Street, Edinburgh.

Here's the winning team with Yves Pratte, Chairman of Air Canada, with (L-R) Fred Storey, Bernie Sparkes, Dave Gerlach and Ron Northcott. Photo is by Michael Burns, and appeared on the front cover of the April 1969 Scottish Curler.

Here's another photo from the presentation, on the ice at the Perth rink. This was taken by Erwin Sautter. Ron Northcott is holding the Silver Broom itself (minus its stand). Bernie Sparkes and Dave Gerlach are holding the winners banner - presumably their names would be embroidered on to this later. All four are holding boxes, containing individual awards. And the Earl of Elgin, the President of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club, is about to present each with another momento of the occasion.

A couple of final points. The Silver Broom trophy shown above was awarded from 1968-78. A newer trophy was awarded from 1979-85, see here. Air Canada, over the years of its curling sponsorship, produced promotional films of the various championships. I wondered if they had begun to do this by 1969. It appears so. The Moving Image Archive of the National Library of Scotland in Glasgow's Kelvin Hall may hold a copy (see here), although only a clip is available, and this only accessible at the Kelvin Hall. I wonder if it has been digitised elsewhere?

The final was apparently televised too, and transmitted live by CBC, according to this local newspaper report. I wonder if the broadcast was archived, and has survived?

Photo origins are as indicated.