From the Vault: Sonja Henie's 1950s Skates

Take a peek into our 14,000+ collection with our blog series, From the Vault! Every other week, we're sharing interesting stories about one of our artefacts.

What is the provenance of this pair? When did they enter the BSM collection?

This pair of skates was originally worn by Norwegian Olympic gold-medal skater and celebrity Sonja Henie (1912-1969). They were acquired by the Museum in 2010 from a collector of antique skates and come directly from Henie’s estate. Mrs. Bata was named Sonja after Sonja Henie.

Are there any features that distinguish this pair from other skates from the same period and geographical location?

This pair, which dates to the 1950s, is unique because it was custom made for Henie by the famous skate-maker Stanzione in New York. The blades were by Strauss of St. Paul Minnesota and feature “Sonja” etched into each blade.

Can you elaborate more on the materials used to make this pair?

The skates were made of leather uppers that are very well worn and were repaired using silver tape at the side of the toes. This pair may have been worn for performances as silver is not a typical colour for figure skates.

Who would have worn this pair and where or for what occasion?

Olympic figure skater Sonja Henie was one of the first Olympic athletes to become an international star. She was only eleven years old when she first competed in the Olympics and she went on to win three Olympic gold medals, ten world championships and six European championships. After retiring from competitive skating Henie went to Hollywood where she was signed by Twentieth Century Fox and became one of the highest paid actresses of the period. She also continued to entertains audiences by skating in ice shows and revues.

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