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COLLECTED FOR POSTERITY

Two rare programmes provide the focal point in this month’s offering, both of them happily autographed by the competitors involved. Kevin McGimpsey explains their provenance...

As a young girl my mother got this programme signed by many of the competitors at the 1935 Open. Would it be a good idea to sell it this year with the British Open taking place at Muirfield?
David Douglas, Perth, Scotland

This original programme for the 70th Open Championship is in outstanding condition (for its age) and its covers are still in a bright orange colour. One hundred and nine players entered the event and at the halfway point, sixty two made the cut at 9 over par (153).

What makes it especially important are the signatures of the participating players. There are no less than 30 beautifully written autographs, with the majority being on the front cover. Famous players of the time include Henry Cotton, Percy Alliss (father of Gi’s own Peter), A.H. Padgam, Aubrey Boomer, Arthur Havers and Dai Rees. It’s a shame that the young autograph hunter missed Englishman Alf Perry who won the 1935 Open and its £100 first prize with only 283 shots, four ahead of runner-up Alf Padgham.

There is also an Order of Play attached inside the programme, and it’s interesting to note the few American players in the field; these included Joe Kirkwood, Lawson Little (the reigning British Amateur champion finished in a tie for 4th), McDonald Smith, Henry Picard and Gene Sarazen (who failed to make the halfway cut with scores of 74 and 77). The [British] Open was a low priority for American players who, even if they won the Championship, would be out of pocket after the costly expenses of sailing the Atlantic.

VALUE: Condition is an important factor when assessing value. The orange covers are bright and have not been ravished by harmful sunshine, the inside pages are clean and devoid of stains or graffiti. The autographs are clean and bold, nice to see real signatures not some horrible squiggle as is often the case today when a golfer is asked to sign. Interested parties would include The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers (Muirfield), also some of its individual members, the R&A as well as private programme collectors. A stand-alone 1935 programme in this 8/10 condition should fetch at auction between £300-500 and the signatures should add a further £300 or so. An auction, the estimate would be £600-800.

I found these two wrapped golf balls in an old canvas golf bag. Any value please.
Fred Kirchweger, Temecula, Canada

These Silver King golf balls were made by the Silver Town Company of London in or around 1924. Both balls have a square dimple cover pattern known as ‘mesh’ and this was the most popular cover design until being replaced by the round dimple a few years later. Collectors would cherish the fact that both golf balls have survived over 90 years with their orange-yellow paper wrappers and blue and silver labels.

Silver Town advertised the ball in 1924 as ‘owing to its special construction it is an easy ball to play with, flying sweetly off wood and iron and giving a delightful feel to the shot...’

VALUE: These balls are highly commercial – each is worth around £80 at auction. If our reader had been tempted (and it happens often!) to remove a ball from its wrapping the values would fall by 50%.

This item was given to me by my former father-in-law to be held in safe keeping for my daughter. It appears to be a menu for the Farewell Banquet for the 1929 Ryder Cup Team. The menu seems to be signed by the entire team. I intend to have it insured if it is genuine; an insurance value would be much appreciated.
Patrick Rawnsley, Olympia, USA

This rare Bon Voyage Dinner booklet was produced as a memento of the farewell dinner held for the 1929 Ryder Cup Team at the New York Athletic Club on April 9 1929. The booklet comprises orange-red stiff backed card covers, the front of which is decorated with an art deco illustration of a liner.

Inside, the first page states that the event is a “Farewell Banquet in honor of the All-American Ryder Cup Team under the auspices of The Professional Golfers Association of America”. The dinner was hosted by Leonard A. Young, the head of the American golfing firm L.A. Young which had a tie-up with Walter Hagen. Hagen, the American captain, took nine players with him across the Atlantic to play in the second Ryder Cup Match at Moortown Golf Club between 26 and 27 April 1929. The US team comprised J. Farrell, E. Dudley, J. Turnesa, J. Golden, H. Smith, Al. Watrous, Al. Espinosa, L. Diegel and G. Sarazen. They have signed the menu page and its facing page for the toasts. They are all genuine autographs (it is interesting that although J. Farrell’s name was printed in the booklet as Johnnie he signed his name Johnny).

There are other notable signatures and these include sports writer and author Grantland Rice and Dr. William Lovell, the inventor of the Reddy tee. There is also an autograph of the non-travelling alternate – it could be Frank Craven. In October 2010 Bonhams sold a blue covered Bon Voyage dinner programme for the same event at the New York Athletic Club. This programme was different in many ways including black and white photographs of the American team that had all been autographed by the players. Its blue rear cover featured the ‘Program’ with Grantland Rice being one of the six speakers.

As the Bonhams Golf specialist I was quoted as saying: “This is an extraordinary find and is likely to be the only surviving example of the Bon Voyage dinner programme...”

As to why there may have been two versions for the same event, who knows? In the early days of the Ryder Cup there were often other ancillary celebratory events, exhibitions, dinners, etc., and that’s what this booklet relates to.

VALUE: The blue covered booklet sold at auction in 2010 for £1,800 plus premiums and this would be a good value indicator for our reader’s booklet. At auction I would anticipate some strong bids from both PGA organisations as well as serious collectors with the hammer falling in excess of £2,000. For insurance purposes, £3,000 (or $4,500).

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine

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