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Bonhams tee-up Open Sales

THE TRADITIONAL OPEN SALES LOOK SETTO BE MUCH QUIETER THIS SUMMER WITH JUST BONHAMS PREPARING A DEDICATED GOLFING MEMORABILIA AUCTION. HERE, KEVIN McGIMPSEY TAKES A SNEAK PEAK AT THE MORE INTERESTING LOTS...

ART – ON A GIANT SCALE!

This huge 5 x 4 feet David Eley watercolour of The Old Course at St Andrews was commissioned by the United Nations in 1995 as part of its 50th Anniversary celebrations. It was displayed at the Golf Museum at St. Andrews.

The painting features a plan of the Old Course, bunkers, tees, fairways and greens, surrounded by over 50 vignettes of the Link's features such as the R & A Clubhouse and the Hell Bunker and portraits of many of the Open Champions to include R.T. Jones, Jack Nicklaus and Seve Ballesteros. Each of the 96 players who made the cut in the 1995 Open then signed the painting, including Tiger Woods, John Daly (Champion), Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Payne Stewart together with a further 24 major winners. Estimate: £2,500-4,000.

Other significant pieces of art include three originals by Craig Campbell, including one of Gary Player, showing his eyes only; it has been signed by both the artist and Gary Player. There is also an original painting of the successful 2003 European Ryder Cup team painted by Liverpool-based artist Keith Fearon in 2004. It has an estimate of between £1500 and £2,000.

BOOKS

This beautifully presented hand-written book titled Scraps on Golf, measuring 7 x 4½ inches, was written and published by Neil Ferguson Blair of Balthayock in 1842. It comprises 81 pages within brown end papers and, save for some slight wear to the top and tail of spine, it is in fine condition. This extremely rare book, considered until quite recently to be a private paper, albeit one of significant historical importance, is one of two known surviving copies.

The other known example (with only 59 pages) was sold at Christie's in 1998 for £12,650. The one for sale at Bonhams with 22 more pages has been competitively estimated between £5,000 and £10,000.

Blair's 'Scraps' are firstly golfing poems: 'The game presents to our preview; Of human life a picture true; With all its' hazards, and its woes; Which every pilgrims progress knows'; The round is life.Man is the ball; Fate is the club, that drives us all...'

Secondly they afford us several very personal insights to the golfing personalities of The Royal Perth Golfing Society. Such characters included John Grant, Sir John Mackenzie, Dr. Henry Macfarlane, Dr. Thompson, Old doctor and Golfing Charlie…their prowess and their playing skills are recorded in rhyming verse: 'You see that stalwart golfer there;With large black eyes and short black hair; That's Jamie Condie – he's the man; Show me a better if you can

Primary source material such as this is extremely rare in the golfing library and in particular when dealing with such an important centre of golf as Perth.

The Perth Golfing Society was formed by a small number of Perth gentlemen at a meeting on 5th April 1824 in the Salutation Inn, Scotland's oldest hotel.

Scarlet golfing jackets were worn for matches played on the South Inch and North Inch links and Sir David Moncreiffe became the first ever Club Captain. The sixth captain of the Club was Lord Kinnaird, and it was his access to royal circles that was instrumental in gaining royal patronage for the Club from King William IV in 1833. Royal Perth was the first golf club in the world to receive this honour and pre-dates The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews by a year. It was at this point that the name was changed to the Royal Perth Golfing Society and the present day patron is HRH the Duke of York.

METALWARE

This very rare Edwardian sterling silver golf club, notable for its 'bulger' shaped head and complete with a simulated horn and fibre face insert. Its grip is extensively hall marked showing that it was crafted by the Elkington Company, in Birmingham in 1906. The club measures 43 inches long. It would have been sold as a presentation club and would have made a beautiful golfing prize. It is redolent of the early longnosed silver clubs that were made and played for as far back as the 1700s. Because I have never seen another, I am assuming that it was not stock material for their catalogue but instead a one off commission and accordingly very rare.

George Elkington (1801-65) is one of the most important names in English silver beginning life in Birmingham as a 'company of silversmiths' in 1836. Elkington & Co exhibited at the Great Exhibition of 1851 with enormous success and the firm held Royal Warrants for Queen Victoria, King Edward VI, King George V, King Edward VIII and King George VI.

Estimate: The auction estimate of this silver club is £2,000-3,000.

Other good metal ware items include an 1895 presentation set to the out-going secretary of Norbury Golf Club comprising an ewer and matching goblets; a 1912 Hesketh golf trophy in faceted trumpet form and a beautiful desk top ink well and stand.

PHOTOS

Early photographs and prints are hard to find but Bonhams this time has six original silver print panoramic photographs of the Kobe Golf Club in Japan. Three of them have been hand-tinted at The Tamamura studio in Kobe, Japan. All six are complete and come with their original cardboard folio.

These extremely rare photographs of Japan's earliest known golf club are thought to have been taken in 1904 to mark the extension of the course from 9 to 18 holes.

In 1868, Arthur Hasketh Groom, a British tea merchant became a long term resident of Kobe and got behind the idea of opening a golf course in Kobe. In 1901 a 4- hole golf course was opened. The Kobe Golf Club became a 9-hole course in May 1903 with some 120 members, mostly Scots and English. A second nine was added in 1904 and the course of today is very much as it was a century ago. These six photographs have been estimated at £2,000-2,500

Also within the auction's photograph section is a large lot of signed golfing photographs of famous players from the 40s and 50s.

GOLF BALLS

These remain a strong sector and this Willie Park Junior 'Park Royal' gutta-percha golf ball circa 1896 will get many golf ball collectors very excited. It is formed with flattened or partially flattened hexagonal facets and has a 1¾ inches diameter.

Willie Park Junior registered his Park Royal design as No. 11761 on 30May 1896...the faces may be slightly hollowed or indented which were supposed to prevent the ball running too easily on keen greens or downhill.

This extremely rare golf ball, believed to be one of only 6 surviving examples has the vast majority of its original paint and appears to be in an un-played with condition .Estimate: £5,000-10,000.

Willie's father,William Park Senior (1834-1903) was a great ball maker, too, and he was the winner of the first Open in 1860. Here are two examples of his golf balls that will be sold individually on 25 July. This extremely rare 'Willie Park 27' hand-hammered gutty golf ball circa late 1860s was found on the now un-used old part of the New Luffness Golf Course – a course designed by Old Tom Morris and opened in 1867. Estimate: £2,000-3,000.

Found at the same time was this 'Campbell 26' hand-hammered gutty ball circa 1860, thought to be the J.Campbell of Glen Saddell who was featured in Charles Lees' painting of 1847, 'The Golfers'. Estimate: £1500-2000.

Other notable golf balls that are included in the sale are a Henley Union Flag ball (estimate £800-1200); a box of 12 wrapped Fishers balls circa 1930s (estimate £500- 600); a Silver King advertising figure (estimate £4,000-5,000) and a small sized Dunlop 65 advertising figure (estimate £2,500-4,000).

RARE GOLF CLUBS

Duddingston Golf Club in Edinburgh have entered a centre-shafted smooth faced iron with an unusual kidney shaped head circa 1900. It is offered complete with an attached hand written label: 'Niblick head forged by Thomas Horsburgh “The Village Blacksmith” at the end of the 19th Century. He was born at Duddingston Mills and carried on business there. A keen golfer he became Captain of Baberton Golf Club...'

In excellent condition, this rare if not unique Horsburgh club is similar to the Centro iron patented in 1904 by John Chave Luxmore Henry. Both were designed to reduce the torque on a miss-hit shot, encourage straighter shots and handle tough lies (the jargon hasn't changed in over 100 years!). The main features of the Horsburgh club are the centred shaft and the cambered lines of the sole, face and top-line. Estimate: £1,800-2,500.

PROGRAMMES

Programmes from the majors are very much in vogue and these two are great examples.The 1941 US Open programme is in near mint condition and within it are interesting articles and features on Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and the 1940 champion, Lawson Little.

The 45th US Open was played at The Colonial Club, Fort Worth, Texas and was won by Craig Wood with a score of 284, this despite a back injury prior to the championship which had almost caused him to withdraw. He won by 3 strokes over Denny Shute. The rain was so heavy and lightning so severe that during the second round that play was twice stopped.This was the last US Open to take place during WWII and was not resumed until 1946. Estimate: £800-1200.

The 1953 US Open programme has 96 pages, 10 of which are player profiles and there is a 27-page 'Capsule History of The US Open'. It is in near mint condition and has an estimate of between £300-500. The 53rd US Open was played at The Oakmont Country Club, Oakmont, PA and was won by Ben Hogan with a score of 283. Hogan lead at the end of every round.

EPHEMERA

This 50 card set of 'Cope's Golfers' circa 1900 featuring George Pipeshank watercolours of the leading golfers of that time such as Tom Morris, Andrew Lang and A.J.Balfour, has an estimate of £2,500-4,000 and this should attract plenty of interest. Within the Ryder Cup sections, there are some 20 lots of menu cards, some signed, that were used during the Gala dinners at the start or at the conclusion of the Matches.

And, finally, Tiger Woods memorabilia remains as popular as ever and the Bonhams sale has no fewer than 6 lots of books, prints and photographs that have been signed by Tiger Woods. Estimates range from £200 up to £400 per item.

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine

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