Artifact of the Month: Ice skates, 1860s

When freezing temperatures dig in, as they did last week and undoubtedly will again before this winter is through, it’s helpful to remember that we’re not the first generation of North Carolinians to know what ice looks like.

Our January Artifact of the Month is a pair of ice skates that belonged to Pittsboro native Henry Armand London, UNC Class of 1865, when he was a student.

ice skates

The skates have fastening rings for attaching leather straps, which the wearer used to tie the skates to his feet. The straps are missing and the iron skates are rusted, but the bent toe guard hints at at least a few days skating. A look at London’s student diary (catalog record here) confirms this assumption.

journal excerpt

(If anyone knows what London means by having a snap, please chime in in the comments!)

After graduating, London went on to become a prominent merchant in Pittsboro, as well as a lawyer, journalist, historian, state senator, and trustee of UNC.

You can view other artifacts that belonged to UNC students in our digital collection Carolina Keepsakes.