Ace gift: husband serves wife tennis poster
A rare vintage poster of a young woman playing tennis was bought by a Bermudian as a birthday gift to his wife, who represented her country in the sport.
Tom Butterfield made a proxy bid for the art work, which is almost 100 years old, in a New York auction.
Yesterday he presented it to wife Gill, the oldest player to compete in the tennis Fed Cup, for her 75th birthday.
Mr Butterfield, the founder and creative director of Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art, said: “The whole flow of the image is just absolutely beautiful.”
He added that the image of a woman player in traditional tennis whites, unlike modern women’s tennis gear, harked back to former British Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman and his 1941 poem A Subaltern’s Love Song, about a young Army officer’s passion for his tennis partner Joan Hunter Dunn.
Mr Butterfield bought the poster, called Gleneagles/The Tennis Girl for $8,750 at Swann Auction Galleries last month.
It was designed by Septimus Edwin Scott in about 1925 to promote Britain’s London, Midland and Scottish Railway.
Mr Butterfield said: “The whole title, The Tennis Girl, struck me as being brilliant.
“I think Gill would agree that she even became a better player when we got together because I encouraged her playing.”
The couple married in 1982 and have two grandchildren.
Ms Butterfield has been an annual visitor to Wimbledon for 51 years and served as a volunteer with the Bermuda Lawn Tennis Association for four decades.
She was defeated when she played for Bermuda in a doubles match against Jamaica at the tennis Fed Cup in 1996 when she was 52 years and 162 days old.
Ms Butterfield won a doubles rubber against Costa Rica a day earlier, making her the oldest player to do so in the competition’s 55-year history.
The second-oldest player is former world number one Martina Navratilova, who was 47 when she notched up her achievement.
Ms Butterfield is a Pink Lady volunteer with the Hospitals Auxiliary of Bermuda and has also volunteered at Masterworks for 31 years.
The poster was also designed to advertise the new Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire, Scotland, a luxury resort still among the country’s most prestigious venues, although the sport it is famous for today is golf.
An online auction catalogue said the poster had “minor repaired tears at edges, minor creases in margins and image”.
The entry added: “The Gleneagles Hotel and golf resort was the brainchild of Donald A. Matheson, the general manager of the Caledonian Railway, after he spent a holiday in the area in 1910.
“Construction on the Gleneagles Hotel began before the First World War but wasn’t completed until 1924.
“The golf courses were opened in 1919, before the construction of the hotel was finished.
“There is very little historical mention of tennis being played at this ‘Riviera in the Highlands’, but as this poster clearly illustrates, there certainly appear to have been courts available for guests.”
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