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Who will start the bidding?

Another eclectic round-up this issue, as Gi’s auction-room expert Kevin MicGimpsey identifies and values more of your curios and collectibles

OVERSIZE BLADE PUTTER

We are led to believe that Edward VIII gave this putter to my uncle, also called David. Has it any special value?
David Storrier, Merchiston Edinburgh

According to the reader, David Storrier (shown in the photograph above on Mrs Simpson’s left) spent 18 years as the Duke of Windsor’s body guard including the years following on directly from the 1936 Abdication. By all accounts Edward was a very keen golfer but so far I have not been able to identify any images of him with this putter.

During the 1920s a number of blade putters were made with long thin hosels (the metal part joining the club head to the shaft), anywhere from 6¾ inch to 8 inches. Although there are no patent markings on this model, I believe that its design was based on Albert Whiting’s 1920s patent which in turn was based on William Oke’s patent (No. 176,999) dated 4 February 1921.

The blade, measuring 4½ inches, is half-an-inch longer than a standard putter; supposedly making it easier to line up. By having an elongated 7½ inch hosel, the putter weighed the same as an ordinary one but positioned more weight in the blade. Oke’s patent stated that in order to perform well in the ‘delicate operation’ of putting the golfer mustn’t be distracted. Consequently, the exceptionally long, round hosel placed the top of the neck joint well away from the putter blade, which in turn placed the lower end of the shaft outside the player’s ‘fairly limited field of vision’ and therefore would not ‘serve to distract the player’s eye or his attention!

What a load of mumbo-jumbo! Albert Whiting, who was the professional at the Folkestone Golf Club in the 1920s, patented a rustless putter with a ‘square’ 7 inch hosel and a ‘square’ shaft; these are the exact same characteristics of our reader’s putter.

I assume that the intertwining LB, the letters ‘Saville’ and the address ‘78 Jermyn Street London SW’ refer to a gentleman’s outfitters rather than a golf or sport’s shop. We could conjecture that Edward was given or purchased the putter when visiting the shop!

VALUE: The putter itself is very collectible and at auction would sell for £150-200. Our reader has supplied a letter from and signed by Edward, sending his condolences to the family when David Storrier died in 1969. If it could be shown that Edward did own the putter – and even played with it – then this would add be of interest and would treble the value to £500.

TETHERED TWO-WAY TEE

I found this rubber tee during a house clearance. Is it of interest?
Ricky Forbes, Longniddry, Scotland

This little tee device dates back to the 1930s. Marketed as the Tethered Compass Unbreakable Two Way Golf Tee, it was made in Scotland by G. MacLellan & Co., Glasgow. Its retail price was a hefty 6d – expensive when you consider that a standard golf ball only sold for 4 times that figure at 2 shillings (10p). I haven’t encountered this particular tethered tee. Collectors will appreciate just how complete it is; a super tight card box, its orange tassel so that it stands out on the teeing up area after being hit, its pin to secure it in the ground and a near perfect rubber ‘tee’ and string.

‘Two Way’ referred to it having two adjustable heights. Players who liked an ‘Ordinary Height’ used the tee in its first position whereas players who preferred a high tee were instructed to turn the tee inside out. Its advertised characteristics included a large base that prevented it turning over; the tee rotated when struck low remaining within the radius created by the string and it saved time as ‘no extra steps taken to get the tee’.

This is a great example of modern day golf suppliers re-inventing the wheel. Go into any driving range shop and there you will find a modern day equivalent of this tethered tee.

VALUE: As your photograph illustrates, this boxed item is in exceptional condition. Any tee collector would be interested in buying it for £30 plus.

JOHN GOUICK PUTTER

This strange looking club has been in our family for many years. On the back of the head is stamped ‘J Gou’ so we think that might be Gourlay! Can you explain what it is and its value if any?
Rupert Jennings, Isle of Wight

John Gouick was an iron monger and shop fitter by trade working in Dundee. His 1904 patent (No. 20623) for the Perfect Putter included a special non slipping corrugated grip as well as the balance and shape of the clubhead. Gouick believed that his rectangular croquet style centre-shafted putter with cross-hatching to its face and curved sole would make for a better ‘perfect’ putter.

Golfing magazine 30 March 1905: ‘The bottom edge is rounded and curved at the ends, so that it cannot engage with the turf, which all flat edged clubs do. The head and handle are one solid piece, the whole being made of cast malleable iron or cast brass. The handle is inclined either to one side or the other, so as to throw the club clear of the player’s feet and to suit right or left-handed players...’

In the pictures we can see areas of ‘rust’. Gouick experimented with a form of tinning whereby a thin coating of tin or solder was applied to the putter head.

This was done as an early attempt to protect the surface from rust and improve its appearance; however most of this coating wore off over time, hence the areas of rust.

The Perfect putter was later advertised in Golfing magazine (20 April 1905): “Sends straight to the hole; saves strokes on the greens; smartest in appearance; see it and you will use it.” Apparently not! It wasn’t a great seller and it has been estimated that there are less than 10 such putters known of today.

VALUE: Early 1900s patent putters are keenly sought and because of its rarity will sell well at auction. One sold at Sotheby’s New York (The Jeffery B. Ellis Collection) in 2007 for $1,250 (£800). I haven’t heard of one coming to auction since. Today, I would value our reader’s putter at £500-800.

OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP ARMBANDS

I found these golfing armbands at a boot fair last year. They all appear to be mint and unused. Are they ‘official’? There were 20, all different some of which are shown in the photograph. Paul Desouter, Wolverhampton

Yes, they are official, commissioned by the R&A to be used in the Open Championship. Although the bands are without a manufacturer’s label I believe they were made by Leo Signs a large and well established sign printer and manufacturer in Glasgow. Leo Signs had the contract to supply all sorts of armbands needed by the R&A to run a successful Open Championship, such as for Press, Car Park, Photo, Marshall, and 18th Hole etc.

As to how they ended up in a boot fair? My feeling is that these are discarded unused samples, maybe originally owned by a salesman who had retired and no longer needed or wanted them.

VALUE: They would be keenly sought after by golfing collectors especially ones interested in the Open Championship; another sector would be programme collectors who try adding as many relevant pieces as they can to their runs of programmes, such as players’ and caddies’ badges, tickets, and sheets. At auction and sold as a lot I’d extimate they’d fetch £150-200.

2000 OPEN PLAYER’S BADGE

My uncle, a professional caddie gave me this player’s badge. He told me that he had been offered £100 for it at St Andrews after the Open. It is in immaculate condition. He never told me who it had belonged to! Please can you give me a current market value?
G. Smith, via email

Our reader’s Open Championship player’s blue and white metal badge would have been used by one of the 150 or so qualifying players in the 129th Open that was played in 2000 over the Old Course at St Andrews. The R&A deliberately changed the design on the badge to reflect the Millennium; normally the badge shows either the St Andrews cross within a crowned garland in relief or a large sized ‘flat’ Claret Jug logo. The design for the 2000 badge featured a smaller claret jug but in relief.

These badges act as an ID tag and allow the player access to the course, the practice ground and the clubhouse.

They have become highly collectible in recent years. Why? Because certain ones will have been worn by the greats of the game and because they aren’t badges of honour (medals), they are often discarded and, consequently, become rare.

I would be intrigued to learn who our reader’s badge originally belonged to – could it possibly have been Tiger Woods, who won his first Open in 2000 (his fourth major championship); or maybe it belonged to Thomas Bjørn or Ernie Els who were co-runners-up, some eight strokes back.

As with the armbands, Open-themed collectors will try to get a player’s badge to go with that year’s Open programme.

VALUE: A badge without any provenance will fetch £200-250 at auction; add in the name of a well-known player and you can add a further £100. If that player were Tiger Woods, it’s a four-figure badge!

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine

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