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More cash in the attic - 2

Auction room expert Kevin McGimpsey shares these readers letters that have caught his eye...

We bought this tin golf toy in Berlin in 1970 for one of my children. It was only when we got it home that we realised that it was potentially dangerous with its sharp edges and ball bearings.We put it away but uncovered it again recently. Has it any value? William Bates, Edinburgh

The only clue to this clockwork pressed tin golfing toy is its box reference to West Germany (mid 1950s to reunification in the 90s). If it had stated 'Germany US Zone' this would have indicated that it was made in the period 1948 to the mid 1950s. Germany has always been well known for its toy making but after the war, most of the best factories such as Bing, Schuco, Carrette and Moko found themselves located in East Germany.

This golfing toy would have been made specifically for export and – compared to what was being made at the same time in East Germany and Czechoslovakia – it is rather inferior. I can well understand our reader's reluctance to give it to their children as it was indeed a lethal weapon.

How did it work? Its simple clockwork mechanism with initiated by suppressing a razor sharp tin flange; this in turn coiled back the tin golfer who was bedecked in plus fours and red coat, to propel the steel ball along the putting green to the hole for 100 points; along the way the ball could fall short into 4 other holes with lesser rewards of 10, 25, 50 and 75.

VALUE: Of interest to not only golf memorabilia collectors but also tinplate toy collectors. Although it is crude, it is relatively scarce – especially in its cardboard box that features two happy looking girls playing the game watched by a politically incorrect golly. At auction £50-100.

Andrew Gill in Cupar, Fife, emailed asking whether this pamphlet was a 1927 British Open programme.

I'm sorry to tell you, Andrew, that this is not the official R & A 1927 Open programme. However it is a very interesting publication with some considerable value.

It was published by the Silvertown Company, manufacturers of a prolific range of golf balls between the early 1890s and the early 1960s. On the front cover we can see the iconic Silver King man and the back cover is a full colour advertisement for their golf balls. It contents comprise 8 black and white pages on the history of St. Andrews; inside there are eight golf photographs and three of the town.

In the early to mid 1920's some Open programmes were printed locally for charities without the R & A crest. Others were printed as advertising literature mainly by golf ball manufacturers. I have never seen this item but have seen a similar publication for the 1924 Open at Sandwich again supported by Silvertown.

The significance of this pamphlet is its year of publication, 1927 (as well as its St Andrews cache) when Amateur golfer Bobby Jones defended and indeed spread eagled a good field when retaining the Championship with a record low score. Also one 19-year-old Thomas Henry Cotton played in this his first Championship and finished 9th and won £10.

VALUE: This Souvenir memento would be of interest to serious Open programme collectors who would see this publication adding a further dimension to their 1927 programme. It would be of further interest, especially to American collectors of Bobby Jones memorabilia. Condition of course is a serious factor affecting its commercial value and there appears to be some noticeable wear and tear to the covers in the form of chaffing and tears, but according to our reader the interior is clean and unblemished. £300-500 at auction, maybe more on the day.

My father has 80 of these score cards. Are they worth anything? Wendy Innes, Devon

These pamphlets are the first attempts at what we know today as 'Strokesavers'. They were sponsored by Martini & Rossi, the makers of Martini Vermouth, and were published throughout the mid to late 1950s.

There isn't a scorecard within the covers and four internal pages. However each hole is laid out in diagram form with symbols marking bunkers, slopes, fairway boundaries, water ditches, paths, tees etc. There are usually 5 or 6 black and white photographs inside showing some of the holes. The back cover has a 'Map of the Course' and an advert for the 19th Hole to enjoy 'the perfect aperitif before lunch or dinner'.

Ephemera like these pamphlets can be regarded as being snap shots of the courses some 60 years ago. For the historian or golf club archivists, they record invaluable images of what, for example, the clubhouses may have looked like before being replaced or altered; the same for its golf holes that have most likely been lengthened since the 1950s.

VALUE: Such pamphlets were marketed with official Martini albums; they could hold up to 60 in each album and they would add to the overall value. Funnily enough, they would probably be bought at auction by a growing band of lake and pond divers who would use them to locate dried up or filled-in water hazards in the hope they might find valuable 100 year-old golf balls. Each £5-£8.

This hinged ruler was in my granddad's canvas golf bag. I was told it was used in the old days to measure how far a putt was from the hole! Can you enlighten us please? Mary Jordan, Aberystwyth

Our reader's stymie ruler, made in white Bakelite, dates to the 1920s. I particularly like how it is so cleverly hinged to fold to just 3 inches.When the dreaded stymie situation arose, out would come the ruler from the golfer's back pocket!

I will have to go back to the late 18th Century to explain the significance of the stymie and this little ruler. If two golf balls are touching on the green, it was ruled that the ball nearest to the hole was to be lifted out of the way to allow the other player an unobstructed putt at the hole. Fine but what was a touching ball? In 1775 'touching' meant balls that lay within 6 inches of each other...and if so the obstructing ball was to be lifted etc. If however the balls were measured for example to be 6¼ inches apart, then they were not touching and if there was an obstruction then the stymie had been set.

There were two types of stymie: 'dead stymie', where the path to the hole was completely blocked, and the 'half stymie' where there was some possibility of getting the ball to the hole without hitting the other ball.

The stymie was laid when the ball closest to the hole blocked out the ball that was furtherest away. You couldn't ask your opponent to lift his ball out of the way and replace it with a ball marker. In match play, if the stymied player's ball hit the other ball on the green, the hole was forfeited; in medal or strokeplay there was a two-shot penalty. Golfers who played the game strictly to the letter of the law would often use their scorecards (the standard width size soon became 6 inches) or make a 6 inch rule on their putter shaft, either by cutting out two tiny notches in the wood or by marking it with ink. If there was a dispute as to whether the balls were touching, the scorecard, the putter or even an extended ruler was laid down and used to measure the distance.

The stymie was never popular in the USA, where golfers tended to favour medal competitions rather than the match play format. They resented having to add penalty shots to their overall score just because of an old-fashioned rule popularised centuries ago in Britain.

In 1938, the USGA relaxed the rule and later in 1952 both the R & A and the USGA abolished the stymie.

VALUE: A quirky piece of golfing memorabilia. Maybe £25 at auction.

We own this silver salver engraved '1932 Charity Tournament & Ball Won at Championship Meeting Rothey Park April 28th 1932'. It measures 2 inches high, 7 1/2 inches diameter, it weighs 9.6 oz.We assume that its scrap value is more than its golf worth? T. Lewis, Chester

The Rothley Park Golf Club is located some 6 miles north of Leicester and was established in 1911.

The centre of this splendid salver has an engraved fox and the intertwined letters 'L& R G A' and records that it was won by a L.E. Browning, a 16 handicapper with a nett score of 148. The winner was a member of the nearby Scraptoft Golf Club. Whereas golfing trophies that have been won by famous players, both amateur and professional are keenly sought after, the same cannot be said for trophies won by everyday club golfers like L.E. Browning!

Furthermore, in relation to trophies and their value, the most desirable examples are typically those that feature a golfer or a golf club as opposed to a plain trophy with little connection to golf other than in the form of the inscription.

VALUE: Even so, with Rothley's Centenary coming up they may well be interested in buying back some of their heritage and it would be worth approaching them. The silver scrap value is around £60 and I would expect the two items to fetch at auction £80-100.

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine



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