Body Beautiful

Friday 11 August 2017

Canterbury Museum has recently acquired a small gold and pounamu locket which links Christchurch to a pioneer of the body beautiful movement, Eugen Sandow (1867–1925).

Locket presented to Eugen Sandow during his visit to Christchurch 1902Sandow, often known as the ‘father of bodybuilding’ was a physical culture advocate. From 1887 he ran a school in London where he taught ‘The Sandow System’ which sought to reverse a perceived deterioration in men’s bodies with exercise, diet and weight training. One of his pupils was Irish-born Frederick Arthur Hornibrook (1878–1965) who won the Sandow medal in 1898.

Hornibrook emigrated to Christchurch soon afterwards and opened the Sandow School of Physical Culture. Sandow himself visited Christchurch in 1902 and the 55 pupils of Hornibrook’s School performed their exercise routines for Sandow and then presented their mentor with this locket. The locket features pounamu inlays, a representation of the spring grip dumb-bells invented by Sandow and an inscription from the pupils.

Hornibrook was an important figure in the physical culture movement in Christchurch and his pupils later taught physical education in schools around New Zealand, the start of the physical education programmes that many of us will remember from school.

The locket is linked to other items in the Museum's collection such as Sandow's Own Combined Developer, Sandow’s anatomical chart of body building exercises, two group portraits of Hornibrook’s bare-chested male pupils, and a 1904 photograph of non-corset wearing women which includes safe-sex campaigner Ettie Rout, later Hornibrook’s wife.

Fred Hornibrook and his students c 1903. 1982 283

Fred Hornibrook surrounded by his students c1903. Note the spring grip dumb-bells in the foreground. 1982.283.2

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