Light & Verity

From the beginning

For sale: a pair of oars from rowing history.

A pair of relics from the dawn of college sports surfaced for sale this spring: the trophy oars from the first Yale-Harvard Regatta in 1852. The black walnut oars were presented by future US president Franklin Pierce to the winning crew (the Crimson, if you must know) after the nation’s first intercollegiate sporting event. Sotheby’s offered the oars in an online auction in May, explaining that they had been discovered in the basement of a rooming house in Medford, Massachusetts, about 30 years ago and have been in the same family since. Their value was estimated at $3 million to $5 million, but the auction ended without a sale. At press time, they were still available—just in case you need something for that bare wall in the rec room.

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