by Challenge Trophies
Ok – so the pun isn’t the best!! The point is that the numbers of hand engravers in the UK is shrinking rapidly, and the noble art of hand engraving is indeed in grave danger of dying out.
For all the hundreds of thousands of trophies that are engraved throughout year, the engravers moment in the sun comes at the end of a major tournament. We see it at the Champions League Final, recently at the World Cup 2014 Final but the most iconic sight is the engravers adding the winners name to the Open Claret Jug.
Any engraver worth his salt would have been hoping that someone with a short name, like Adam Scott won the Claret Jug, and with Rory McIlroy coming out as the winner – he didn’t do too bad. If Charl Schwartzel had ended triumphant, the poor old engraver would have been scratching away for quite some time!!
But the sad fact is that fewer and fewer trophies and cups are hand engraved these days. The reason for this? Mostly, it’s the fact that as computerised engraving machines have improved, more and more items can be machine engraved and no longer need to be hand engraved. Another factor is that cups are predominantly made in standard shapes which fit nicely into engraving machines. The days of cups being made in an eclectic mix of unusual shapes are unfortunately behind us.
The saddest of all factors is cost. You sometimes see a beautiful sterling silver cup that has been hand engraved with winners names for 60 years, only to have the last 3 years winners added by the uniformity of machine engraving. It looks awful switching from the slightly stuttering strokes of hand engraving to the standard shapes of machine engraving, it’s almost as if the cup suddenly loses its soul. Why is the decision made to switch? Because the cost of adding the winners name by machine engraving may be £10 instead of £15 by hand engraving. These are austere times, but I think that more is lost than is gained in that small saving.
But tradition demands that hand engraving will always remain. So, whilst thousands of trophies will go in and out of machines this weekend, only one trophy will have its engraving viewed by millions of people through a global television audience.
Garry Harvey was the one responsible for hand engraving McIlroy’s name onto the jug last Sunday, taking over from his late father, and I for one raise a glass to the man!! Hoylake 2014 was the 11th time that the 58 year old performed one of the most famous duties in golf, witnessed by a live audience. Carry on the good work Sir!!