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What are these worth?

Kevin McGimpsey answers more of your letters, this issue identifying the provenance of a sterling silver vesta case, a jolly ceramic figurine, an original course map of Archerfield golf course and a Victoria Vase Medal

STERLING SILVER VESTA CASE

This little silver case has been in our family for many years. It belonged to my great grandfather. It has a neat hinge that enables the case to open…I am not sure what it held? Ken Bicknell, Wye Valley

Smoking and drinking golf related paraphernalia remain popular collecting themes and there are plenty of diverse items to collect such as cigarette cases often with embossed golfing decoration; cigarette boxes in silver and other metals (these are popular today as trinket boxes); ashtrays often enhanced with an attached golfer or caddy and as is the ‘case’ here, golf themed vesta cases (also known as a match safes) that are usually crafted in silver or silver plate and sometimes are decorated with an enamel golfing scene.

Our reader’s sterling silver vesta case is beautifully enhanced with a mustached Edwardian-dressed golfer at the top of his backswing and there are eight other golfers and caddies in the back ground. It measures 2 inches across and is hallmarked as having been assayed in Chester in 1906. There isn’t a maker’s mark. The reverse of the vase is smooth but hopefully you can see in the photograph the serrated ridge that the match struck to get a light. The condition of the case appears to be good with only minor signs of wear on the smooth reverse surface. If there hadn’t been some wear, then alarm bells would have rung!

VALUE: Very collectible and at auction it would fetch between £250 and £300

CERAMIC FIGURINE

Could you please value this china golfer. It measures 10 inches high and there are several stamps under its base. Mrs Shelly Robinson, Hants

This rather strange looking ceramic golfer or caddie was made by Amphora of Turn-Teplitz in Bohemia during the 1920s and 1930s. Amphora was an Austrian ceramics manufacturer and one of their more obscure ranges was of golfers and their caddies. They often sported inane grins and wore inappropriate rain or trench coats and outsized boots. Sometimes these figurines can be found without clubs in the bag and with variations in the decoration and colours of the caddy’s coat. These all add to fun in assembling a collection of Amphora golf figures.

If you do come across one, please do check it for cracks or defects. Cracks can be detected by black light/light bulb held near to area suspected of being damaged or repaired…the glazed area cannot be replicated. If you are suspicious then lick the suspected area and if repaired it will feel cold.

VALUE: Again, very popular with collectors and at auction it would fetch between £700 and £1,000

VICTORIA VASE MEDAL

We have owned this Victoria Vase medal for many years. We were told that it is made out of silver gilt. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a winner’s name engraved on it. Can you give me a value please? Arthur Lights, Clapham, London

Basically, a medal is a piece of metal usually in the form of a coin, struck or cast with an inscription to commemorate an event. Medals come in all shapes, sizes and materials from precious metals to base metals. Usually gold is reserved for the winner, silver for the runner-up and bronze for other places.

Behind each golfing medal there is usually an interesting story waiting to be told; it just needs research and time. Always though, the medal represents one man’s triumph over a fellow opponent, or the whole field of players or the course itself.

Our reader’s Victoria Vase medal is quite beautiful, featuring on the obverse a superb engraving of Queen Victoria in her 1887 Jubilee guise. The Victoria Vase is an annual competition at Prestwick Golf Club and the winner receives the gold medal. The reverse (not shown) also features Victoria, but as a much younger woman, and there’s an area beneath the legend with the words ‘Won By’ for the recipient’s name.

It weighs a chunky 41½ grams and is two inches in diameter. It is hallmarked ‘M & B’ (Marples & Beasley, of Albion Street Birmingham) 1911, it is marked on the obverse as having been made by Edward & Sons Glasgow. On the reverse it is stamped ‘A.

Fenwick & Co’. I am pleased to say that the metal used is, in fact, 15 ct. gold, and not silver gilt (i.e. a mere wash-over of gold over silver). I have seen several of these medals, all having been cast in 1911. It is most likely that Prestwick Golf Club had a batch of the medals struck to last them for several years to come. Maybe with hostilities starting in 1914, the winner of our reader’s medal just never got round to having his name engraved on the medal?

Prestwick Golf Club memorabilia seldom comes to public auction. Prestwick founded in 1851 is important in golf’s history because the first Open Championship was held there 150 years ago in 1860. There are indeed collectors of just Prestwick Golf Club related golfing antiques and mementos.

VALUE: Certainly if the medal had had the name of the winner, it would be much more valuable. Even so, it is a very desirable and attractive golfing medal. It would probably not be of interest to Prestwick as they will most likely own several named examples already. At auction, I would expect it to sell for between £500 and £800.

ARCHERFIELD PLAN OF COURSE

My family owned Archerfield Estate from 1946 to 1962 and this framed map hung on a wall in the Estates’ office in the north wing of the Archerfield mansion house. It measures 14 x 7 inches. Has it much value? M. Mitchell, East Lothian Scotland, via email

This is an exciting ‘find’; an original ‘Plan of Archerfield Golf Course’ (East Lothian) with a notation of Frederick Tait’s course record, the year after his second Amateur Championship win in 1898 and two years after his 3rd place in the Open. The map was drawn in July 1899.

Archerfield Links is situated on a magnificent estate between Gullane and North Berwick in East Lothian. It received its rather unusual name because King Edward I’s long bow archers pitched their tents on that land during the English invasion of Scotland in 1298. It is generally agreed that golf has been played over Archerfield for over 500 years. Certainly golf was played there during the second half of the 19th century on the original 13-hole course. Indeed, it was such a desirable place to play that golf writer Reverend John Kerr wrote in 1896 that, ‘...No snugger, cosier, more delightful links can be found anywhere... for pure, unalloyed enjoyment of a summers day play give us Archerfield...’

The course, we are told, was extended to eighteen holes in the early 1900s and was later described by Bernard Darwin, ‘...as the most enchanting short course in the world.’ It is commonly believed that the extension occurred in 1910, but in the light of this map, that date is wrong. Could Archerfield been extended in 1895 or so?

VALUE: There would be several parties interested in the map ranging from collectors of Frederick Guthrie Tait (11 January 1870 - 7 February 1900), who was tragically killed in the Boer War, to Golf Clubs in East Lothian such as Archerfield’s Links and even the nearby Renaissance Club situated right next-door to Muirfield. At auction I would expect the map to fetch at least £500.

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine

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