Sport Collections

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander visitors are kindly advised that this website includes images, sounds and names of people who have passed.

All users should be aware that some topics or historical content may be culturally sensitive, offensive or distressing, and that some images may contain nudity or are of people not yet identified. Certain words, terms or descriptions may reflect the author's/creator's attitude or that of the period in which they were written, but are now considered inappropriate in today's context.

Key to library resources

Access anywhere with a library card In the Library (or anywhere with a Library card for NSW residents)
Available to access in the library Only in the Library
Publicly available online Publicly available


Accessing objects

In most circumstances, physical access to the objects collection requires a supervised viewing. The purpose of this policy is to ensure the preservation of this material for future use. You can arrange a supervised viewing by completing an Access to Special Collections Request form.


It is often possible to view items from our objects collection without requesting physical access. Many items have been digitised, often with photographs taken from multiple angles. The catalogue record for Captain Cook’s sextant, for example, contains 95 digital images. 


A selection of the Library’s objects is on permanent display in our Collector’s Gallery, and many are displayed as part of our annual calendar of events and exhibitions. 

Want to find out more? View the Library’s What’s On page, and subscribe to our eNewsletters to keep informed about current and upcoming Library events, exhibitions and programs.

Our sporting objects

Suggested search strategy
In most circumstances simply filtering search results to ‘Objects’ and entering a sport or athlete name will narrow your search results.
Medals, trophies & pennants

Many of our sporting objects are items of achievement, celebrating sporting glory with medals, trophies, pennants and other prizes. 

The Scott family collection is an extensive set of picture, artworks, objects and papers concerning Helenus Scott and his descendants. The collection includes several prize purses given to the winners of horseracing events, issued in the 1830s and 1840s. 

Pins, badges & souvenirs

Belonging to a team or a club is an important part of sporting culture, and the Library’s collection includes many club and other organisation badges for sports such as rifle shooting, Rugby League, swimming, soccer

Sporting equipment & miscellaneous

With so many different sports played in Australia, each with its own set of rules and equipment, it is difficult to neatly categorise the sporting objects in our collection. 

Interested in a sport or sporting event? Perform a search for objects in our digital collections viewer. You may find horse whips, cricket balls and even a clump of Sydney Cricket Ground soil!

Objects in other institutions

Beyond the Library, you may find more sporting objects in other repositories and institutions. Some of our favourites include:

•    The Australian Sports Museum (general sport)
•    Powerhouse Museum/MAAS (general sport)
•    Bradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame (cricket)
•    The NRL Museum (Rugby League)
•    The Sydney Cricket Ground Museum (general sport)
•    National Motor Racing Museum (motor sports)

Collection highlight: Harold Hardwick's medals

Gold medal for Stockholm Olympics 1912, with a depiction of ancient Greek athlete holding salpinx trumpet Olympic gold medal, Stockholm 1912

Harold Hardwick, born in Balmain in 1888, was one of Australia’s most versatile sportsmen, representing NSW in Rugby Union, and Australia in swimming and boxing.

The Library holds the Harold Hardwick Collection which, in addition to some of his personal papers, contains 13 medals Hardwick won for swimming and boxing between 1911 and 1919. Perhaps the jewel of this collection is the gold medal won by Hardwick as a member of the Australian Men’s 4x200m swimming relay team at the Stockholm Olympics of 1912, one of four medals Hardwick collected at the Stockholm Games.

Harold Hardwick’s medals are on permanent display in The Collector’s Gallery, located in the Dixson wing of the Mitchell Library.