What a treat! At the recent annual meeting of the Hudson River Ice Yacht Club, Rick Lawrence brought along this medal he had found in a drawer among his mom's things.
This is the original medal awarded to ice yacht Phantom after it won the very first race for the Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant of America, on March 5, 1881. Irving Grinnell created the Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant of America in 1875, to signify fastest yacht on ice. A detailed history of the IYCPA can be found here. The 30 foot long silk pennant was to ice yachting as America's Cup was to soft water racers (then and now). The pennant went to the victor until the next race. What winning skippers got to keep were these custom silver medals.
This medal has been in the Lawrence family for many years and somewhat forgotten for awhile. Rick noted that he knew of it but hadn't seen it for awhile until he came upon it this year. Rick's late father, Bob Lawrence, received the medal from Captain Frank Drake, an experienced ice yacht racer who won the IYCPA in 1922. Drake likely acquired this original IYCPA medal from someone in the New Hamburgh Ice Yacht Club (founded by Grinnell and of which Drake was a long time member), as he was the bearer of the Pennant from the 20s through the 50s. The elder Drake befriended the young Bob Lawrence and at some point the medal came into Bob's possession. Great to see that it is in good hands still. An amazing piece of ice yachting history!