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Guernsey: 1911 Langwater Cup

In 1911 Frederick Lothrop Ames, the money and brains behind Langwater Guernseys, of North Easton, Massachusetts, donated a Reed and Barton sterling silver punch bowl trophy to the American Guernsey Cattle Club to be presented annually to the Champion Cow at the National Dairy Show until won by an exhibitor three times whereupon the trophy would be given permanently. The National Dairy Show in 1911 was in Milwaukee, WI and was won by Glenco Bopeep exhibited by Wilbur W. Marsh of Waterloo, IA. In 1912 the show was in Chicago and again was won by Mr. Marsh’s Glenco Bopeep. In 1913 the show was again in Chicago, IL and Mr. Marsh was ready with the champion cow named Imp. Jessy Rose X. Thus, the first three years this large, beautiful trophy was offered, it was won by Mr. Wilbur W. Marsh. Thus he was permanently awarded the Langwater Cup having won it for the third time.

The 1911 Langwater Cup has been handed down in the Marsh family for the last 106 years until Mr. Marsh’s 93 year old granddaughter was forced to sell her household goods as her health was failing and she was moving to a care facility in 2017. The unknown gentleman who purchased her things went about reselling items and, in some cases, melting down her silver tea sets and dinner ware for its silver value. But (thank goodness), that gentleman attempted to find the American Guernsey Cattle Club (which was engraved on the Cup) and ended up calling the American Guernsey Association’s office in Columbus, OH. asking if there would be any interest in purchasing the 1911 Langwater Cup. The office staff stated there were likely no funds for such a purchase and nowhere to store or display such a historically significant piece. Knowing that this author might have interest, the staff suggested the unknown gentleman call me.

While I usually hang up the phone when a caller says “I might have something of interest to you”, the caller’s “something” did, in this case, sound interesting. Three days later, early on a Saturday morning, I flew to Washington, D.C.’s Reagan Airport where, at the baggage claim curbside, I met the gentleman holding the Langwater Cup. I exchanged a hand full of cash for the trophy and went back inside and flew home. It literally took 2 minutes for the transaction– he seemed happy and I was not just happy, I was ecstatic with such a thing in my arms knowing it had been saved from an uncertain fate.

It doesn’t take a studied historian to realize why this Langwater Cup has such great historic significance. Beginning in 1911, it was presented for 3 years to the exhibitor of the National Grand Champion Guernsey cow; and, Langwater Guernseys are back in nearly every pedigree of every Guernsey that has ever walked the lower 48 states. The wealthiest man in Massachusetts, Frederick Lothrop Ames, used his Harvard education and his deep passion for the Guernsey breed to assemble and develop what is still the “gold standard” herd for Guernsey genetics. Early 1900’s importation of sires such as Imp. King of the May and cows like Dolly Bloom, dam of Dolly Dimple, and the May Rose family was Lothrop’s basis for genetics that propelled him in a very short time to be acclaimed the greatest breeder of Guernsey cattle in the world. Judging from the impressive numbers of Langwater sires and other animals that passed through the sale rings and through private treaty in the 1900’s to the 1950’s, Langwater Farms is arguably still the greatest contributor ever of Guernsey genetics in the history of the breed. The wonderful, valuable oil painting in the A.G.A. office of imported King of the May and 5 of his daughters is pure Langwater.

Frederick Lothrop Ames’ untimely death from an appendicitis attack at the age of 45 years in 1921 cut short an already amazing life of devotion, study and effort for the improvement of the Guernsey cow. Lothrop Ames was the primary financier for the purchase of the “new” American Guernsey Cattle Club office building in Peterborough, New Hampshire. Just prior to his death, Lothrop Ames claimed the American Guernsey Cattle Club offices to be the “best run, the best organized and best equipped cattle office in the world”.

16 years after Frederick Lothrop Ames’ death, his brother John S. Ames donated another decorative Reed and Barton sterling silver Langwater Bowl in 1937, but this time it was given annually to the exhibitor of the Champion Bull at the National Dairy Show. This valuable trophy is still in the American Guernsey Association’s office in Columbus Ohio, but is not presented anymore since they ceased showing bulls several years ago. This trophy was appraised in 2012 for insurance purposes at $20,000.

The 1911 Langwater Cup is not as ornate, but is 26 years older, 5 inches taller, 4 inches greater in diameter and approximately twice the weight of the Langwater Bowl. The 1911 Langwater Cup definitely belongs in a museum for all to see and appreciate and not in a private home. While participating in the 2017 National Guernsey Convention tour of the Saratoga Race Horse Museum and Hall of Fame we came upon a horse Steeplechase trophy in its own glass case that had nearly the identical appearance to the Langwater Cup. The trophy in the museum was also a Reed and Barton sterling silver punchbowl from 1911 and had been retired there after being won 3 times by its present owner. That trophy was admittedly a little larger and shinier and was proclaimed by the curator there as “priceless”.

I am not sure that the Langwater Cup from 1911 is “priceless”, but it sure is to me. That being said, ½ interest in the Cup was recently sold to Gary Mithoefer of Indiana. A professional appraisal accomplished during the month of July 2017 estimated the fair market value of the 1911 Langwater Cup to be $22,200 for insurance purposes. We hope to find a suitable museum home for the 1911 Langwater Cup. At least it will not be melted down and lost forever – it has too much historic significance for that.

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