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Who will start the bidding?

Our very own version of The Antiques Roadshow, auction-room expert Kevin McGimpsey casts his eye over more of your rare finds.

Greenkeeper's hole-cutter and putting green furniture

My partner's old uncle died recently, he was a keen golfer and, as it turns out, a bit of a hoarder.We found these interesting old putting green items in the garden shed - namely a cast-iron hole cutter, 7 metal flags and 9 arrows. Gabrielle Booth via e-mail

Here we have a collection of green keeper's iron ware - practice putting green flags and directional arrows for the purpose of laying out a putting course. There's also greenkeeper's hole cutter, the plunge device that removes the round sod to create a fresh hole.

It's interesting to note that early golf holes were simply cut out with a knife - the mechanical cutters came into being around 1830. By 1894, the size of the golf hole had been standardised with a 4¼ inches diameter. Recently some of the original holes at the old Musselburgh course were discovered to contain remnants of flower pots. I am often asked why it is today's golf hole measures 4¼ inches in diameter, and one plausible explanation could be that early holes were created by sinking flower-pots into the green - and, as 4¼ inches was a standard size for flower-pots, it became the agreed regulation size by the time that the holes were being cut by machine.

Our reader's hole cutter with putting tin was made by H. Pattisson, a London retailer of green-keeping equipment and its design dates back to the end of the 19th Century. Pattisson had premises at 55, Killieser Avenue, Streatham Hill, London, where even at the turn of the 20th century they were still making leather horse boots to cover the greenkeeper's horses' shoes and protect the greens when the horse-drawn cutter was being used! Today Pattisson still make a large and diverse range of golf course equipment and furniture including heavy duty plastic tee boxes and litter bins.

In 1897 Pattison invented a device called the patented seamless steel 'Bogey Hole' cutter and they advertised it as being, 'used by all the Principal Clubs at Home and Abroad.' It quickly became a standard piece of the green-keepers' course management equipment. The Pattisson-made metal flags and arrows also date to the 1930s but because their style never went out of fashion, they could even be more modern.

VALUE: There is a small group of golf memorabilia collectors that have great fun collecting vintage flag sticks, golf signs, tee boxes, hole cutters etc. At auction? £100 the lot.

Popular golfing card game - Kargo, or 'Card Golf'

What can you tell me about this card game? David Rowling, Skipton N. Yorkshire

The game of Kargo, usually played at a card table, dates back to the 1930s. It remained popular until the 1950s when it was more often marketed as 'Card Golf'. Our reader's golf card game was manufactured by Castell Brothers Ltd, a well known British firm that manufactured stationery and other games.

Kargo should comprise 53 cards and a rules/instruction booklet. The cards depict various Courtiers playing golf with clubs of yesteryear - Niblicks, Spoons,Mashies and so on. Each of these cards stated the distance that particular club could hit a golf ball (an early version of Top Trumps!) Part of the game's appeal was that the players didn't need to have any knowledge of golf and so it could be played by everyone in the family.

Two-, three- or four players were dealt a number of cards - between 6 and 8 cards in a hand, dependent on the number playing. The dealer announced at each hole its yardage and the game began with cards being played showing golf club types with their distances. So, by way of example, a Knave card might feature a Mashie that would hit the ball 150 yards. Players would use the cards in their hand to navigate the course, using and disposing of their cards to 'play' each hole.

VALUE: Although not particularly collectible or valuable they are seldom found today as complete sets. In this case, both the inner and outer boxes appear to be in fair to average condition with no bits missing and the cards do not appear to have had a great deal of use. At auction, I'd estimate £20-30.

Rare book a prized 'find' - Golf and Golfers

Just picked this great book up in our local Church sale - 'Golf and Golfers'. Can you give me information and value please? Laura Kaufmann, Stockton-on-Tees

Well, I can tell you straight away you have stumbled upon a rare and highly collectible golf book. 'Golf and Golfers, Past and Present', with its bright red cloth covers, was published in 1891 in Edinburgh and comprised 100 pages with a small selection of illustrations. As you will know, the book measures just 6¾ x 4¼ inches. Gordon J. McPherson, the author writes on golf of the day, of St. Andrews and the great money matches that were played there during the 1840s. There are fascinating chapters on the caddies, the balls and clubs and the notable golfers who played golf over the links then and he declared unreservedly that Allan Robertson was the best golfer of that era.

VALUE: A must-have for any serious golf library. Our reader's book has slightly bumped corners and has a stain on its front cover. Even so at auction the book would sell for between £300 and £400.

Golf ball scam claims yet another innocent victim!

I would classify myself as a casual collector and I just couldn't resist this boxed set of golf balls (feather ones) on sale at a local Huddersfield boot fair. They cost me £120, but after reading up on the subject I think they are fake. Help! John Smith, Huddersfield, Yorkshire.

I first heard of these 'feather' golf balls surfacing at a large car-boot fair near Leeds in 2008. Their initial sighting caused many a collector and dealer to come over all funny because to stumble across a six-box of David and Willie Auchterlonie feather golf balls would be the ultimate find!

But, wait a minute, the Auchterlonies didn't make feather golf balls! The brothers David and Willie only formed their club and ball business partnership in 1897! By then the feather ball was a long time redundant with everyone playing with the established gutta-percha ball or soon to be playing with the new fangled rubber cored ball. The fraudsters have been clever by using old looking box material including the green material that keeps the balls in place. It seems that the box lid has been formed from an old advertising shop notice that has been scanned from a photograph within a memorabilia book.

The balls are made from a painted resin material and looking at an image for example on eBay, they do look remarkably authentic. However in the 'flesh' it is the ugly formed seams that are an immediate give away.

VALUE: If they had been the genuine article, you would be looking at a piece of golfing memorabilia worth somewhere in the region of £20,000. Sadly, I'm afraid, as a novelty item, £30.

Golf balls bearing the US Presidential seal

I have just started collecting golf balls bearing the Presidential seal - can you tell me if I'm on to something? Mitch Sullivan, North Palm Beach, Fla

Over the years various US Presidents and Vice Presidents have commissioned golf balls bearing the Presidential seal to be given out as White House souvenirs. Possibly the earliest Presidential logo golf balls were those issued by President W.G. Harding and Dwight Eisenhower. Eisenhower's golf balls were understated with the words 'Mr. President'. Today the official Presidential or Vice Presidential golf balls feature the official seal of office and a facsimile autograph. Even the First and Second Ladies have them. Although Titleist has the modern day concession, in the past both Wilson (Richard Nixon) and Spalding (Ronald Reagan) have been official manufacturers. Presidential logo golf balls are not the same as the souvenir golf balls that are readily available for sale in ex-Presidents' libraries or at shops in Washington DC.

VALUE: A President Bill Clinton single golf ball £20; in a single box £45; 3 balls in a 3 ball box £100; a Hilary Clinton golf ball £10; in a single box £20; 3 balls in a 3 ball box £70 and the same for Vice President Gore and his wife.


This summer Bonhams sold a golf book for just over £20,000. It was a copy of Thomas Mathison's 'The Goff' (top right).

Its author, Thomas Mathison (1721-1760) was born in Edinburgh and trained as a legal clerk; he later turned to golf, poetry and the Presbyterian ministry. The significance of The Goff, first published in 1743, is that it is the first book entirely devoted to golf (James Arbuckle's 1721 poem merely mentions golf) and it was 80 years before another book on golf would appear, 'The Rules of the Thistle Club', published in 1824.

The Goff is a poem of 358 lines in 3 cantos 'in praise of Goff' and is a picaresque description of a match between two golfers played at the five-hole links at Leith. The protagonists are 'Pygmalion' (the author Mathison) and 'Castillo' (Alexander Dunning of Edinburgh, a bookseller who was probably Mathison's brother-in-law).

The Goff only measures 8 ¼ x 5 inches. The poem offers important information as to how golf was played at the time, the equipment used, and the course at Leith Links, played by leading golfers of the day, the 'Caledonian Chiefs' who frequented the links. Drawn from the professional elite of Edinburgh these players were the founder members of the first ever golf club, the Company of Gentlemen Golfers.

There were three editions and all were published in Edinburgh.The first in 1743 (22 pages), the second in 1763 (22 pages), and the third in 1793 (32 pages). Although the Bonhams example purported to be the second edition it was in fact the third edition, published (printed) by Peter Hill in 1793.

It must be the ultimate for a collector to attain one of the three editions for his golfing library. All are scarce with less than 20 of all editions known to exist. The 1st and 2nd editions are scarcer than the 3rd edition with prices at auction starting at £50,000. Bonhams sold their copy in August for £21,500 which is about par for the course. Don't despair if that is outside your budget because for £100 you can buy a facsimile copy of all three editions that was published by the USGA in 1981.

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine


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