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Golf Memorabilia Wish List

Kevin McGimpsey celebrates an unbroken 10-year association as Gi’s auction-room expert with a personal Top-10 of the very finest ‘must-have’ golfing antiques and collectibles he would like to own

 

VARDON STATUETTE

This Harry Vardon bronze statuette circa 1904 would take pride of place on my hall table. Standing at 26 inches high it was sculpted by Hal Ludlow and made by Elkington & Co., who retailed it at just over £26. Few were cast and they were generally bought by golf clubs as decorative items. Hal Ludlow was an accomplished amateur golfer. His keen awareness of the golf swing was described by Golf Illustrated when the bronze made its debut. “[Ludlow] has given us Vardon to the life...note the light folds of the Norfolk jacket, the belt loosely buckled at the back, the sleevewrists turned back, the tightly-locked thumb. Every trifling characteristic has been observed and fixed in enduring bronze. Vardon himself has expressed his entire satisfaction with the position as a whole.” If I had to buy one at auction today it would cost somewhere in the region of £15,000- 20,000 – and worth every penny.

BOBBY JONES IRONS

I would cherish a full set of wooden shafted Bobby Jones irons circa 1928. The set shown is complete with its red Spalding box. Every time that I prepared to play a shot with them I would imagine that he the greatest Amateur golfer ever had not only designed them but had played with ones just like them. At auction today I’d expect to pay £1,500-2,000 for a matched set.

SAM RYDER’S PUTTER

Of course I will need a putter so my choice is Samuel Ryder’s own putter. It dates to around 1910 and is basically a standard Robert Forgan made mallet shaped putter. Sam Ryder personalised his putter with an ‘SR’ stamped to the crown; it also retains Ryder’s original white aiming line and original rubber grip. Its provenance is watertight, too, as this putter was once owned by Joan Scarfe Ryder, the youngest daughter of Samuel Ryder. If I had to buy it at auction – £20,000-25,000.

SIR HENRY COTTON’S OPEN MEDAL

I would like to own for a while Henry Cotton’s 1937 Open Golf Championship winner's medal. Eat your heart out Dominic Pedler who is a great Cotton aficionado! In 1934 after winning his first Open Championship, Henry Cotton was hailed as the best British golfer since the Great Triumvirate of J.H. Taylor, James Braid and Harry Vardon. His second win was at Carnoustie in 1937, a victory marred by dreadful weather. The constant rain made the 7,000-yard course longer still during the final two rounds. Also the American entry was stronger than it had been in previous years due to the visiting US Ryder Cup team.

Cotton had said in the days leading up the Championship that he believed a British player could repel the American invasion. How right he was to be. Who knows how many more Opens Henry Cotton would have won if it hadn’t been for the War? At auction? A hefty sum, in the region of £25,000-30,000.

HAGEN’S LEATHER BAG

What better way to show off those Bobby Jones irons that in a classic leather golf bag – in this case the leather bag used by Walter Hagen in the inaugural Ryder Cup match in 1927.

The ‘Haig’ was also the USA Team Captain; in fact he captained the first six Ryder Cup Teams.

His name and ‘USA’ are clearly legible along with the remnants of the Stars and Stripes flag and ‘Ryder Cup Team’.

What a great piece of very early Ryder Cup history!

A true one-off, and so the £5,000-£8,000 estimate seems reasonable enough.

ALLAN ROBERTSON BALL

As many of you will know, I have a fondness for the golf ball and have been an avid collector now for over 25 years.

There are so many types of ball to choose from – feather, gutty and rubber-core. My choice could have been one of the most expensive golf balls in the world – maybe a Patterson Composite or a Henry’s Rifle.

Instead I have selected a ball that was made in 1840 by the first true golf professional, the best golfer in St. Andrews at that time, a skilled club maker and feather golf ball maker.

He stamped his name on each feather ball and later on the gutta-percha balls that he made but it was his christian name rather than his surname.

Look out for those magic capital letters, ALLAN.

My choice of a golf ball is a hand-stitched feather filled Allan Robertson golf ball. At auction £6,000-8,000.

SILVERTOWN FIGURINE

And to set off my golf ball collection would be this wonderfully rare golf ball advertising figurine or point of sale. It was distributed in the 1920s by the Silvertown Company to golf professionals in Britain who stocked their Silver King golf balls.

There were two Silver King figurines, both made from a pressed card material.

The more common type is the ‘Silver King’. The 'Silver Queen' so named because she looks female and is dressed in a pink and black outfit with a harlequin-style pattern. She is rarest of all the advertising figures. In fact I only know of one surviving example.

And this is reflected in the price – £20,000.

BURSLEM VASE

As a purely decorative piece I would chose this large blue and white Burslem vase with a figure of a golfer.

Doulton’s Burslem porcelain from the 1890s and early 1900s is immediately recognisable by its hand painted blue and white colour schemes.

Also most of the Doulton Burslem pieces signed or marked by the individual artist. Burslem remains one of the most expensive golfing ceramics and a piece like this due to its flawless condition and big size at just over 6 inches is a wonderful example.

At auction £8,000-10,000

‘THE GOFF’

Most of us like a good golf book, so why not read the oldest piece of literature that is devoted entirely to golf? It is Thomas Mathison’s ‘The Goff’. It tells, in almost heroic terms, of a match between Pygmalion (the author) and Catalio (Alexander Dunning, a noted Edinburgh golfer of the day).

The Goff was first published in 1743 and it comprised 22 pages within paper wrappers. The 2nd edition (also with 22 pages) was published by James Reid in 1763. The 3rd edition published by Peter Hill in 1793 contained the addition of a dedication that increased the number of pages to 32. The 2nd edition is regarded as being the rarest of the three editions, with only 5 existing today; two are in private collections and three are in institutions. But I wouldn’t mind which edition I had!

Hugely sought after, at auction £25,000-50,000.

CAMPBELL OIL PAINTING

And my final item would be this Craig Campbell oil on board painting of Tiger Woods titled ‘Tiger at the Masters 2005’. Who can tell whether Tiger will ever be the player that he was in 2005. He has certainly fallen away dramatically in his attempt to win more majors than Jack Nicklaus, but I really like this painting. It shows Tiger then the invincible golfer looking rather disdainfully over his shoulder at maybe the chasing pack, who knows? The brush strokes of Campbell the artist are superb, look at Tiger’s eye lashes for example and he remains in my opinion the best of the current school of British golfing artists.

At auction £3,000-5,000.

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine

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