Tennis tournament trophy

JUNE 2020

This tennis trophy, which belongs to Serlachius Museums’ object collection, speaks of the sporting activities and joint competitions of forest industry companies. The silver trophy was designed by Eric O. W. Ehrström.

The triangular tennis tournaments between G. A. Serlachius’ Mänttä mill, Kymi’s Kuusankoski mill and Ahlström’s Varkaus mill began in 1924. Competitions between the mills were quite common in many sports. In G. A. Serlachius Ltd, they were organised between the group’s different mills and also with other companies. Leisure-time collaboration between the companies was natural because highly trained personnel moved from one company to another throughout their careers, and contacts between industry leaders and senior staff were often personal in addition to being business relationships. Leisure activities were also an opportunity to create a corporate image as an attractive employer. The personnel involved in the triangular tournament between the participating companies also changed over time. Gösta Serlachius was managing director of the Kymi mills from 1908 to 1913. During that time, the Mänttä mill was managed by Sölve Thunström, who in turn later became the director of Ahlström’s Varkaus mill from 1924 to 1929. Thure Lehto, also a keen tennis player, moved from Varkaus to become the technical director of the Mänttä pulp mill in 1936. 

Winners of the triangular tournament’s challenge trophy were allowed to keep the trophy permanently if they won it three times. This trophy is one of four triangular tennis tournament trophies won by the Mänttä mill in the Serlachius Museums collection. It was specifically designed by Gösta Serlachius’ partner and friend, artist Eric O. W. Ehrström, as the prize for the triangular tournament contested by the above-mentioned companies. The triangular sides of the trophy feature embossed tennis rackets, which frame the companies’ emblems: the Serlachius GAS eagle, the Kymi griffin, and the Varkaus lion with the letter W. Of these, the emblems of GAS and Ahlström’s Varkaus mill were also designed by Ehrström. The trophy has a trifurcated pedestal on which the name of the winning team for each year was engraved: Erövrad av 1933 Mänttä is repeated three times, with only the year number changing to 1934 and 1935. At the top of the grooved stem, at the bottom of the cup there is a ring of small tennis balls. The mouth of the cup curves as if into three spouts. The trophy is silver and it was made in 1933. The mark HK reveals that the maker was Heikki Kaksonen, who worked in Helsinki. Of the trophies designed by Eric O. W. Ehrström, another is the Pan-Nordic Nordiska Lawntennispokalen, which was ordered by the Finnish Tennis Association in 1920.

Tennis as a hobby began in Mänttä in the first decade of the 20th century. G. A. Serlachius Ltd built the first court there in 1909 for the use of the company’s white-collar employees. Over the decades, promoting recreational opportunities was particularly associated with increasing the job satisfaction of the trained workforce, but the Serlachius family themselves were also enthusiastic players. Until the 1950s, tennis was played on a court next to Mänttä Club. In 1950, new courts were prepared and playing was moved to them.

In Mänttä, as at many other localities, tennis was a hobby of management and white-collar employees, and the class division in the community was clearly visible. Mänttä Tennis Club, founded in 1929 and operating strictly within G. A. Serlachius Ltd, accumulated members selectively. Working class families or their children had no access to the tennis club or its courts. Restricting the number of players was justified by the few tennis courts available, but no less a reason was maintaining the social value structure, which was still visible in Mänttä in many other areas of life even up to the 1970s. 

Milla Sinivuori-Hakanen

Ehrström Eric O. W.: GAS logo several sketches, Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation.
Ehrström Eric O. W.: Mänttä tennis trophy, sketch 1933, Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation.
Ehrström Eric O. W.: Emblem of the Warkaus (Varkaus) mills, several sketches, Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation.
Gösta Serlachius’ correspondence, Finlands Lawntennisförbund, Serlachius Museums.
Childhood in Mänttä memoir material, Serlachius Museums.
Mänttä Tennis Club 1929–1979, handout, Serlachius Museums.
Norrmen P. H., Mänttä Mill 1868–1928. 1928. 
Schybergson Per, Työt and päivät. History of Ahlström 185–1981. 1992.
Tehdas and me magazine no. 2/1951.

Tennis tournament trophy designed by Eric O. W. Ehrström.
The silver trophy was designed by Eric O. W. Ehrström.