Mr Sullivan receiving the Alexander Cup for swimming the Channel in 1923.
H Sullivan (Channel Swimmer) receiving his trophy in 1923, Dover. Amos & Amos Postcard 1923. Standing on the steps of Lord Warden Hotel(?), H Sullivan is here presented with the Alexander Trophy by Alderman Bussey JP, Deputy Mayor.
Behind in the sunglasses is Adolph Alexander, holding Sullivans daughter, and on his left in bow tie is Alfred Jonas, both of the Channel Swimming Club. Behind Jonas is Dover Mayor R.J. Barwick, leaning on the pillar
Henry Sullivan, from Lowell, Massachusetts, USA, was the 3rd man to swim the Channel, on his 7th attempt, at age 34 in 1923. Left Shakespeare Cliff and landed at Calais sands, 26 hrs 50 mins. Accompanied by the Folkestone lugger ‘Day Spring’ and 2 Dover galleys.
He won the Channel Swimming Cup presented by Adolph Alexander of the Channel Swimming Club and £1000 prize from the Daily Sketch.
‘The Alexander Channel Cup (II)’ was commissioned and purchased for £1200 by Alexander for the Channel Swimming Club in 1911 to replace the original 1907 cup won by Burgess in 1911.
It was a Grecian urn shape with Art Nouveau embossed design of mermaids, shells and seaweed to body, lid surmounted by an identical figure of Victory blowing a horn from the original cup, foliate handles entwined with figures of Mermen. Base with shield “The Alexander Channel Cup 1912” surmounted with flag plaques engraved ‘1875’ and ‘1911’ with a third blank.
The cup was exhibited in 1912 but it is not the cup presented to Sullvan in 1923. Whether something catastrophic happened to the cup between 1911 and 1923 is not known but its off-the-shelf replacement is hallmarked 1910 so it’s purchase must have been not long after 1911/12
The new third cup was made by Elkington & Co, Cheapside, London, hallmarked Birmingham 1910. Unlike the two previous cups, this was off-the-shelf rather than commissioned, so bears no swimming or maritime elements or motifs in its design. The cover is mounted with a figural finial of winged Victory in Neoclassical garb holding a staff. The cup is supported by two large entwined 3-dimensional figures, one holding a triton. Height: 37 ¾ Inches. Weight: 375 Troy Ounces. The body is inscribed “The Alexander Channel Cup Presented To Henry F. Sullivan. Who Swam the English Channel, Aug. 5th & 6th 1923. From Dover, England to Calais, France. Establishing World’s Endurance Record. World’s Breast Stroke Record. 26 Hours 50 Minutes.” On a marble plinth base with silver plaque engraved ‘The Alexander Channel Swimming Cup’
The cup was sold by Skinner Auctions, Boston, Mass. for $23,700 in 2011 and then by Nelson & Nelson Antiques, New York in a 2019 private sale. The marble base seems to have been lost and was not sold with the cup at these sales
Sullivan was in Dover preparing for a previous attempt in August 1914 when the declaration of war forced him to cancel and return to the USA
England to France: 25/8/13 (failed), 25/8/20 (failed), 8/9/20 (failed), 9/9/21 (failed), 21/9/21 (failed) 5+6/8/23 (success), time 26 hours 50 minutes – the longest time for a successful swim untill 2010
France to England: 25/8/21 (failed)