Medal Detector

April 22, 2011 on 6:09 pm by Michael Grey | In News, Random Thoughts, Solo Piping, Stories | Comments Off on Medal Detector

I spent a few hours this Good Friday at an estate auction in Milton, Ontario. Auctions are great places to get a deal, and – if you’re lucky – find really interesting stuff. The funny thing about auctions, too, at least in these parts is you’re always assured to come away from the hall smelling of fried onions (courtesy of the food concession) and feeling super young – auctions seem to attract the people of the (especially) long-toothed variety.

Anyway, today I spent way more money than I had planned; and I hadn’t really planned to spend much. I’m the new owner of a set of 1950s pipes (I’m guessing made by Lawrie) and a set of very interesting antique small pipes – as of this moment, of unknown make. But the really cool thing I came away with – and really didn’t need – was a haul of nineteenth century silver medals – bagpipe medals! Oh for the days when prizes like these were on offer instead of today’s disposable trophies and plaques.

I’ve taken some pics and include them here. Maybe someone can shed more light on the persons who won the prizes (there are two names listed both with the surname Walker). There are no longer games in Lucknow, St Catherines or Hamilton. I’ve never heard of competitions in Lucknow (a place I’ve only passed through driving north to Kincardine) or St Catherines. We know, of course, St Catherines produced a great pipe band in Clan MacFarlane, but these medals pre-date the band by decades.

Anyway, a little bit of history. These medals suggest a busy games scene in southern Ontario as far back as 1870. Look at the workmanship on these babies! Hand engraving. They really are lovely pieces of our history. And I always think that when it comes to bagpipes, pipers everywhere share a big collective history: a history without borders.

I cheekily include – for fun – a pic of what the overall solo piping winner is awarded at the North American Championships, at Glengarry Highland Games. Not sure anyone – even they with more dollars than sense – will be buying this at an auction in 140 years.

So I can say today, that the nicest prizes I have are those I never won. 🙂


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