Silverplate trophy – R.D Booth, First Prize for 4-oared, Melbourne Regatta 1881


Silverplate trophy, awarded to R.D. Booth, Melbourne Regatta 1881,

the tripod base formed by three oars tied with a ribbon, the plinth decorated with a coil of rope, the bowl engraved with scrollwork around an inscription:

Melbourne Regatta


Four Oared Race

Bona Fide Amateurs

Won by

Banks Club

Marked on base, Lee & Wigfull Sheffield

H: 19cm
W: 8.5cm
excellent condition


The Melbourne Regatta was held in 1881 on the ‘Salt Water River’ now known as the Maribyrnong River, which flows into Melbourne’s Yarra near its mouth on Port Phillip Bay. Reports proclaimed it ‘one of the most important to be held in the colony’.
It was notable for the controversy over ‘Amateur’ – meaning competitors having non-labouring jobs, such as the ‘Bankers’ who made up this club, ‘Banks’ – as opposed to those who worked hard every day as their job – seen as an unfair advantage…..
This trophy was for ‘Amateurs’ only, meaning the far-too-fit working class rowers were not able to compete!

This fascinating piece of local history represents the strong sporting spirit of Victoria in the Victorian era; Booth was described by a contemporary as ‘…one of the greatest oarsmen of his time’,  and this trophy represents the very first years of his long rowing career, full of first prize winnings such as this.

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