For decades after it was last awarded in 1933, the Willard S. Karn Trophy has been missing.
The 7th edition of the Official Encyclopedia of Bridge says this about the trophy:
“Described as “a magnificent gold cup” by The Bridge World, the Karn trophy was donated by Willard S. Karn in 1931 for the National Individual Masters Championship. It was replaced by the Steiner Trophy in 1934. The first Individual was played at the home of P. Hal Sims in Deal NJ Sept. 5-7, 1931. Mr. Karn won his own trophy at the inaugural event. Whereabouts of this trophy are unknown.”
When Danny Sprung of Philadelphia (soon to be Las Vegas) read that entry in the encyclopedia, he quickly notified the ACBL that he knew exactly where it was – at his house.
And it was – kind of. It appears to be the miniature awarded to Howard Schenken in 1932. David Bruce was the final winner of the Karn Trophy in 1933.
The trophy is part of a collection of bridge memorabilia left to Sprung by his mother, Shirley, an antiques dealer.
Sprung says his mother and father, both deceased, used to go to antiques shows and come home with one treasure after another.
The collection Sprung now owns includes several trophies, one of them a second-place Spingold trophy indicating that it was a world championship event.
Sprung has no idea when or where his parents got hold of the Karn trophy, but he was happy to donate it to the ACBL for the Bridge Museum located at Headquarters in Horn Lake MS.
Although not the original Karn Trophy, this addition to the ACBL collection is indeed a rare find.