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Who will start the bidding?

Auction-room expert Kevin McGimpsey answers more of your letters and emails, this issue contemplating the provenance and value of amixed bag of collectibles, including a rather handsome bronze of six-times Open champion Harry Vardon

OFFICIAL RYDER CUP GOLF BAG

I own The Golf Lounge in the centre of Glasgow. When we opened about three years ago, a family friend who deals in football memorabilia gave me this golf bag as an opening gift. Do you have a rough figure in mind of what it is worth? Raymond Mitchell, Glasgow Scotland

Our reader’s golf bag is an official Ryder Cup bag that belonged to Ian Woosnam and was used at the Kiawah Island Ryder Cup matches – the infamous ‘War on the Shore’ in 1991. It appears to be complete and is in excellent condition. After 28 matches and numerous lead changes, the moment to decide which team would secure the Ryder Cup all came down to the final hole in Bernhard Langer’s singles match with Hale Irwin...and who could ever forget that agonising six-foot putt!

The end result was USA 14½ and Europe 13½. For whatever reason, Woosie didn’t have a great 1991 Ryder Cup, playing in four of the five matches and winning just once. Of course, he later led the European Team to a great victory in 2006 at the K Club.

VALUE: Player’s Ryder Cup bags do not come onto the market all that often. More common are the bags without a player’s name that were used as spares at the event. The provenance of this one, however, is good and Woosnam is a hugely popular player. The bag would be enhanced if the owner could get it autographed by him. However, because of their large size these bags (and Tour bags generally) don’t fetch as much as you might expect at auction. They are difficult to display and they take up a lot of room. Hence I could only estimate the bag selling at auction between £250 and £300.

MASTERS CHAIN

My father, Sydney S Scott was given this when he competed at Augusta in 1962. I don’t believe it is gold. Is it of any value? Allan Scott, London

In fact, this is a hall-marked 10 carat gold US Masters tie clip and chain, made by and stamped ‘Robbins Attenboro’ with one disc stamped ‘Masters’ and the other ‘1962’. It would have been given to all the competitors at the 1962 Masters as a treasured keep-sake.

The provenance element is strong here. Sydney. S. Scott was born in 1913 and he was one of the most consistent British professionals of the 1950s and early 1960s and in 1954 he finished equal second in the Open Championship, just one stoke behind Peter Thomson. In 1959 at Muirfield, Scott finished fourth behind Gary Player – he had been level with Player with nine holes to go but came back in 37 to Player’s 34.

Between 1952 and 1962, Scott finished in the top-ten at the Open six times, which was a remarkable record considering that he was a true club professional rather than full-time tournament player. Scott played in the 1955 GB & I Ryder Cup team at Thunderbird Ranch, USA. There he was narrowly defeated by Chick Harbert in the singles and lost to Doug Ford and Ted Kroll playing with Eric Brown.

VALUE: All official Masters’ memorabilia is keenly contested for at auction. I would expect this clip and chain with its strong providence to fetch between £300 and £400; if there was no providence then £200-250.

SMALL GOLF BALL

This small golf ball has been in one of my garden shed jars, it seems, forever. Did they really play with golf balls this size? I would appreciate your views. The photo shows it with a 1.62 ball that I found with it. Barry Stoughton by email

Between 1908 and 1914, the Spalding Company was one of few ball manufacturers that had the legal right to describe the pattern of small repeating flat discs on their golf balls as ‘Dimple’. Their range of dimpled golf balls in that pre World War I era was prolific and their branded dimple patterned golf balls included Glory, Domino, Baby and Honor. Their golf balls were market leaders and were successfully used on both sides of the Atlantic.

Spalding did actually make a Midget Dimple golf ball in 1912 but its diameter was a relatively large 1.65 inches. It weighed a heavy 1.66 ounces and was catered for the golfer who wanted to hit a ball that ‘flew like a bullet’ into the wind.

Our reader’s very small golf ball (only 1 inch in diameter) was not a ball to be played with. One pole is painted red and the other is painted blue. Both poles are stamped ‘Spalding Dimple’ in capital letters. The Spalding Company in England manufactured these miniature balls and packaged them in a red Spalding Midget box for their sales force to present as a memento to their golf professionals. It must have been a unique way in which to get them interested in stocking Spalding golf balls.

VALUE: Should be keenly contested over by golf ball collectors at auction. I say keenly because this is a rare item and few have come to auction. In this condition with some areas of paint loss, £250-400; double that if it was still complete with its box.

RARE GUTTA-PERCHA BALL

We have owned this ‘Troon’ golf ball for over 20 years. We bought it at an Estate sale and paid, I think, £50 for it. Has it gone up in price? J. Merton Aberdeen

This is a very rare gutta-percha golf ball, made in or around 1880. Its cover pattern is a melded mesh one and it is in excellent original condition with only minimal paint loss. Although the ball’s maker is unattributed I would hazard a guess that it was made by or for George Strath, the first professional at Troon Golf Club; Troon was opened on 16 March 1878. Strath was substantially involved in the design of the original 12-hole and later 18-hole course prior to him leaving in 1887. The Troon golf ball could well date to 1878.

VALUE: Troon balls don’t come to auction very often. When they do, especially in the condition of this one, they fly out. I would expect it to fetch at least £400, so that is a good rise in value!

CHINA PIECES

This photo shows part of my collection of smallsized china pieces. My favourites are the animal ones and I have been collecting them for 3 years now, mainly buying them at car boot fairs. I haven’t paid more than £5 for any of them. What do you think? Ms V. Goodfellow, Cheltenham UK

I like them – and there are some very nice pieces here. For example, the two golfing Otters, one measuring 4 inches high, the other 3½ inches, were both made by the Orwell firm in the 1950s while the little china mug decorated with early golfing figures is part of the Royal Winton Grimswade series. The other items were made in the 1950s and 1960s.

Collecting golfing memorabilia should be fun and your theme of golfing animals is just that. Some of the ceramic pieces will be life like renditions of real animals, others may be humorous characters and others will be just decoration. All of these small-sized items are still relatively easy to find at fairs and antique shops and still represent good value too.

VALUE: The two Otters would sell at auction for £40; the caddie with golf bag £20; the Grimwades mug £30 and the Teddy Bear cup should fetch £25. So, as you can see there is plenty of financial growth with these collectibles.

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine

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