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What are these worth?

Auction-room expert, Kevin McGimpsey, selects the best of your recent letters, including a wonderful example of a golf ball display tin, a rare tournament programme, a 1933 British Amateur Competitor’s badge and unidentified sphere


I bought this golf ball tin at a boot-fair last month; it only cost me £6.00. What do you make of it – have I unearthed a worthwhile investment?
Rupert Holmes by email

Regular Gi readers may remember me writing a couple of years ago about a yellow Dunlop tin circa 1930 that would have contained 15 Dunlop golf balls. Our reader’s St Mungo Manufacturing Company golf ball tin would have been displayed in the professional’s shop in the hope of enticing members to spend 2/6 on a new Colonel Heavy golf ball. I suppose that once in a while an affluent golfer would buy the full tin of 12 balls. Because the tin was considered a disposable item, once all the balls had been sold the professional would throw it away and replace it with a new tin from St Mungo and so not many have survived. And as a result, when you do find one, they are quite valuable. As to condition, this tin has some paint rubs and rust marks; most likely it has languished for the last 70 years in a damp environment.

VALUE: Keenly sought after by golf ball collectors and overall it is in a very acceptable condition. It should fetch at least £100 at auction.

I found this 1949 Egyptian Open Golf Championship programme in a set of drawers. Is it collectible?
Richard Ellis, Amersham, Bucks

This is a charming piece of golfing memorabilia and it appears to be in a hardly used condition and still has its Mobil ‘Subscribers’ page marker. It is also significant in the light of the recent developments in Egypt; 1949 was a time when Egypt was part of the British Empire and the Suez Canal had yet to be nationalised. I didn’t know that Egypt had had its own Open Championship and that it was such a high calibre golf tournament. It was first played in 1921 and remains the oldest professional golf competition in the Middle East.

The 1949 Open took place at the Gezira Sporting Club in Cairo between 2nd and 4th December. The Gezira Sporting Club comprised 150 acres, part of which was an 18 hole golf course. In its early years the Club was for the sole use of British Army Officers and their families but after WW II the majority of its members were rich Egyptians. In January 1952, the club was nationalised and became a public club losing 9 of its holes.

Our reader has provided me with a list of the top professionals who participated: Max Faulkner, Flory Van Donck, Laurie Ayton and Alf Padgham and all the British and European tour players’ names were emboldened in the draw sheet to signify their importance to the event.

Even with such a strong overseas contingency it was local boy Hassan Hassanein (1916-1957), an Egyptian professional golfer who won the 1949 Open. He went on to win this Championship for four consecutive years 1949-1952. Sadly, he died in Cairo, at the age of 40, when a kerosene stove exploded in his home.

The front cover artwork is rather neat, if not a little clichéd. When did you ever see an ancient Egyptian with golf bag and caddie? The programme measures 9½ x 7 inches and inside lists various details of interest. Players were competing for a 1st prize of 100 Egyptian Pounds out of a total purse of 500 Egyptian Pounds. There was also a lucky draw for anyone who had 3rd prize was a set of Henry Cotton woods – maybe the participating professionals would rather have had the lucky draw top prize?

VALUE: Although this programme is hardly in the main stream of collecting – unlike, for example Open and Ryder Cup programmes – it will be of interest and at auction should secure a bid or two around the £50 mark.

As a novice collector of Amateur Championship memorabilia I would value your opinion of a recent eBay acquisition – a red cardboard 1933 Amateur Championship competitor’s badge. I paid £50 for it.
Peter Evans East Horsley Sussex

Welcome to the great – and highly addictive hobby of collecting golfing memorabilia! This two-inch card badge appears to be in good condition with some small creases only and is complete with its red tie-on string. The 1933 Amateur Championship was played at Royal Liverpool and there were 269 competitors – each of whom would have been given such a player’s badge to wear throughout the week.

According to my records this was a slightly larger field than usual. Even so, I wonder just how many of these badges have survived; being made of card, discarded after the event by disappointed participants, the British weather conditions etc.

The 1933 Amateur at Royal Liverpool was won by M. Scott – the oldest golfer to have won this event.

As reported in Golf Illustrated 1933: ‘Hoylake has always been about as severe a test of golf as may be found anywhere in the world. This being so, it is arresting that it has earned a reputation for producing surprises in the Amateur Championships held there. That this reputation is deserved none may deny. And now in 1933 Hoylake has given us an Amateur Champion of 55, which disposes of Mr. Hutching’s record of 53 (1902) being the oldest golfer to have won this event.’

VALUE: If the badge had been from the 1930 Championship (the year of Bobby Jones’ Grand Slam then its value would be £1,000 plus. Of course it isn’t, but it still has plenty going for it, such as being a pre-war badge and being made of card. It could well be of interest to Royal Liverpool Golf Club who are keen custodians of their associated golfing memorabilia. At auction it would sell for between £200-300.

I purchased this antique golf ball from an estate sale. I wasn't sure exactly what it was until I started researching it. I have some other antique golf balls in my collection but have never seen anything quite like this one. I have seen your books, ‘The Story of the Golf Ball’ and ‘Golf Memorabilia’, and I know you are the best person to contact for information on such an unusual golf ball. Can you identify it for me?
Robert Hall, via email

Yes, I can. These balls are made from a gutta-percha material and have an unusual moulded ‘cover’ design; of course the ball is solid and weighs a little heavier than a modern golf ball. The ball’s pattern is very attractive, criss-crossed bands of lines and 8 donut circles, 4 for each half (our reader’s description). There is a mid-ridge equator formed at the time the ball mould halves came together under great pressure. Its diameter is 42 mm.

All of the examples I have seen have been in excellent condition and without strike marks. Also, none have been painted white – they have always been like this, in a natural brown colour. Our reader believes that the ball dates from the 1800’s. I agree. To be more accurate, from the 1880s. I contacted the former European Tour player and golf ball expert Mark Roe, along with two further golf ball experts, and we are all of the opinion that this ball is not a golf ball but it is a ball used or developed to be used in a child’s game.

Mark emailed me to say, “I have seen several variants of this ball, all looking similar in colour and consistency but never painted; there is one with a star on the poles and one with a smaller circular pattern completely covering the ball from pole to pole and also another with lines just around the equator...”

VALUE: It would seem highly likely that our reader’s ball is not a golf ball. All known (surviving) golf ball patents have been checked and there is nothing similar. As Mark told me, “I do know that many collectors don’t seem to bother with them, with no name at best they are early prototypes...” If the ball could be shown to be an early golf ball prototype then it will have a four figure value and at auction I would expect the bidding to start at £1,000...

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine



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