THE latest round of golf sales held up in Scotland threw up a now-familiar pattern of mixed results.
With sales timed to coincide with the Open taking place at St
Andrews, the demand, as usual, tended to focus on quality items,
whereas the course for the middle and lower end was noticeably more
Golf specialist at
Lyon & Turnbull (19.5% buyer's premium) Rachel Doerr
described the sale in Edinburgh on July 11 as a "tough day",
adding: "Although the good and unusual lots sell, the general
feeling is we need to get new people into the market."
Golf collecting has indeed become a small world with many of its
aging members acquainted to each other and holding regular
"They're one of the nicest sets of buyers you could hope for,"
said Rachel Doerr, who admitted organising a dinner for her clients
the night before the sale. Most of these golfing enthusiasts had
come over to watch the Open, and some chose to leave commission
bids so they would be able to attend the tournament in person.
The headline lot was a classic Philp putter with a great
provenance. It had been owned by pioneer golfer and ball maker Old
Tom Morris and his son Young Tom and it duly brought out one of the
market's traditional big spenders - Jaime Ortiz Patino, owner of
Spain's Valderama Golf Club.
Senor Ortiz Patino has not made his presence felt in the recent
market the way he did five years ago, but does occasionally bid if
the right lot comes up. The putter had been part of the Harry B.
Wood collection which was given to the North Manchester Golf Club.
It was acquired from the club in 1985 by the current vendor,
American collector Frank Hardison.
Now in his 80s, Mr Hardison is slowly feeding his collection
onto the market and this club came with a letter detailing how he
had been able to buy the Wood collection with the help of the UK
collector Peter Crabtree.
The fact that it could be proved that the club originated in the
UK meant that it was not subject to the import VAT of five per cent
that would be have been the case for an American club.
The Philp club was pictured in Wood's book Golfing Curios
and the Like and was in excellent condition.
On the day, it was bought on behalf of the Valderama Golf Club
by dealer Titus Kendall who had to go to £70,000, the lower
estimate, to outbid the other interested party.
"This is a unique piece of golfing history and I would have been
willing to bid more for the club," he said after the sale. "It will
be on loan to the Valderama Museum where visitors will be able to
see the club."
Above: Royal Doulton vase from a series decorated with
golfing images sold for £6500 at Lyon & Turnbull.
Elsewhere in the sale, two large pieces of Royal Doulton from
the same source, part of the well-known series decorated with
golfing images, both made high prices for ceramics, but
nevertheless fell below their low estimates.
The 8.25in (21cm) high punch bowl, estimated at £5000-6000, sold
at £4000 and the two-handled vase, 11in (28cm) diameter, estimated
at £7000-10,000, made £6500.
The sale's selling rate of 57 per cent further illustrated the
slowdown in the market that has existed over the last five five
years and appears to be continuing.
The July 12 auction held by
Mullock Madeley (15% buyer's premium) had a slightly higher
selling rate at 66 per cent and showed that for smaller salerooms
there is certainly still decent money to be made from golf
The Shropshire auctioneers held their sale at The Blyth Hall, a
fine 19th century building in Newport on Tay, six miles from St
The hammer total of £85,600 was a house record for a golf sale
and John Mullock toldATGthat he plans to repeat the excursion North
of the Border next year.
He reported a healthy turnout of American and Canadian
collectors, who, he said, "had not been seen in such numbers since
before 9/11", and, indeed, the majority of lots that made over £500
went to the US.
However, given the volume of golfiana on offer at this time of
the year, buyers were allowed to pick and choose. Some good prices
though were seen for items relating to Old Tom Morris.
Top Golf Ball
The top lot was a fine Tom Morris feathery golf ball which was
contested to £9600 between two American collectors. The buyer was a
New Yorker, who outbid a rival from Florida.
The ball was in good condition with closed stitching to the
seams and only two slight strike marks. The stampmark was also
Mr Mullock thought the ball must have dated from the 1840s to
1860s, probably during the transitional phase when Old Tom was also
making the new gutty balls.
Although he switched his attention mainly to the gutty, and in
so doing fell out with fellow ball maker Allan Robertson who was
much less enthusiastic at the innovation, Morris did not abandon
the feathery altogether. Other Morris memorabilia included an early
Tom Morris St Andrews longnose club.
In decent condition, although having undergone some minor work
to the neck and face, it made £900. Also a rare studio photograph
of Young Tom Morris wearing the Open championship belt after
winning the tournament for the third time in a row made £1600.
The sale also included a selection of programmes of which the
highlight was consigned from the US. This was a copy of the
programme for the first Masters tournament in Augusta in 1934.
The course had opened the year before in 1933 and the inaugural
Masters (called "the National Golf Club Invitation Tournament") was
won by Horton Smith, who took 284 strokes from the four rounds,
four under par. With its original green bound boards, the programme
was in excellent condition throughout and an American collector
went to £4900 to secure it.