by Sarah Berlinger
"The most important thing is not to win but to take part!"
Coined by International Olympic Committee founder Pierre de Coubertin, this phrase has served as a motto of the Olympics since 1908. We at Museum Textile Services were very excited to receive several items of Olympic memorabilia for conservation from the Middlesex School in Concord, Massachusetts. An alumnus of the prep school, one Gordon Smith, donated his jacket, cap, and hockey pants from the 1932 Olympic Games to the school’s collection, and they have elected to have it conserved as an important piece of American Olympic history.
Gordon Smith was a member of the 1932 and 1936 United States Olympic ice hockey teams. The 1932 games, where these objects were used, took place in Lake Placid, New York. That year, the team won the silver medal. In the only game Smith played in that year, he scored a goal. In the 1936 games in Garmisch-Partenkirchen,Germany, the team earned the bronze medal. Smith played in all eight games, and also scored one goal that year. Undoubtedly, Gordon and his team believed in de Coubertin's maxim.
The objects submitted to MTS for conservation include the jacket and cap used during the Opening Ceremony and worn by athletes throughout the games, as well as a pair of hockey pants that were most likely worn during competition. The objects have piqued interest in the studio, as several of us are avid hockey fans. It has been wonderful to learn the history behind such unique and meaningful items in the Olympic History of the United States.
Click here to see an image of Smith and the U.S. ice hockey team from the 1936 Winter Games.