Are these chairs fakes?
As a woman who is rather down on rowimg (it tends to keep good students on the river and away from their books...), I am surprised that I have just bought two bits of Cambridge rowing memorabilia (or are they?)/
At our favourite local auction house last weekend, we had spotted two rather pretty mahogany chairs, each one painted with the logo of "St John's College Rowing Club", plus the name of the cox, dates 1896 and 1897, and on one the triumphant phrase "bumped Kings".
We reckoned they would go for a bit more money than we had, so didn't put in a bid. But on Sunday night we discovered they had not been sold, so bought them for the reserve price. (OK £400 was still more than we had, but it was the husband's birthday (which we had hardly celebrated ) and I had just got a little royalty cheque -- so why not, eh?)
They are now installed in the front room, and very handsome they are.
But the two (three counting the son) historians in this house are puzzled, if not downright suspicious, about the historicity of this pair. Why?
For a start "St John's Rowing Club" is not a really bona fide Cambridge term; the St John's College boat club is called the "Lady Margaret Boat Club" and so far as I can tell has been since 1825. So maybe they are actually Oxford chairs. Well, that would fit with the reference to "torpids" (what Cambridge people would call Lent bumps), but one of the chairs says "bumped Kings" on it. And there is not Oxford college of that name.
But if we assume they are Cambridge, there is still a problem. My learned friend from St Johns (Peter Linehan) assures me that St Johns did not bump King's in either of those years (though King's, Linehan assures me, did bump the Lady Margaret second boat). And neither he nor I can find any trace in any Cambridge work of reference of the two coxes names on the chairs (Walker and Harvey).
So in some sense they must be a fake. But in what sense. There seems to us no doubt that these are old mahogany chairs, and at £200 a piece, they are certainly not fakers' paradise. And in any case, what FOR?
The only other lead we have is that our pair seems to have been sold in Cowes in August this year for £500 (presumably they were resold near Cambridge by someone hoping (wrongly) for a local profit).
Any help, or ideas, much appreciated. And we like them whatever they are.