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More cash in the attic - 3

Auction-room expert Kevin McGimpsey answers more readers’ letters as he tries to identify and value an assortment of items of memorabilia and golfing collectibles

ADMISSION BADGE

I have two 1954 Wichita Country Club Women’s Invitation Golf Tournament admission cardboard badges that belonged originally to a husband and wife and they are signed by Mildred ‘Babe’ Zaharias, Patty Berg, Marlene Bauer, Marilyn Smith and others. May I have your valuation? Howard Karasick USA by email

These two admission tickets have been autographed by many of the leading women golf professionals in the immediate post WWII era. Ticket #305 has the signatures of the great Betsy Rawls (winner of 1953 and 1960 Women’s Open Championship), Betti Hicks, Betty Jameson Marilyn Smith with a dedication to the badge holder, Doug (she was attached to the Wichita Country Club) and Carol Bowman. Ticket #308 has the Babe Zaharias signature (winner of the 1948, 1950 and 1954 US Women’s Open), Beverley Hanson, Bonnie Randolph and Patty Berg (winner of 1946 US Women’s Open). Of course, the star signature is the Mildred Babe Didrikson one. She was a phenomenal athlete and became an American sporting legend. Not only did she win three US Opens, she was also the first American to win the British Open (1947). She represented the USA in the 1932 Olympics at Los Angeles in three events and won medals in all three – gold in the Javelin, gold in the 80 metres Hurdles and a silver in the High Jump when she cleared 5 foot 5 inches (a mere two inches below her height!). She died less than two years after the 1954 Wichita event, aged only 45.

VALUE: There aremany collectors of women golfers’ autographs andmemorabilia. There are alsomany who would just want to own a piece of ‘Babe’memorabilia. The condition of the two badges appears to be good, both without bent corners and still retaining their original tie-ons. As with autographs in general, ones signed in pencil tend to bemore robust when it comes to sun-fading. Sold as a pair, I would expect them to fetch £600.

GOLF BALLS

We found these three golf balls in a bric-abrac shop last year whilst on holiday in the Orkney Islands. They were described as ‘antique golf balls’ and priced at 1 for £50 and the 3 for £100. I have since checked on the web and if they are genuine, I think I have done well. What do you think? Ryan Maugham, Eastbourne, Sussex

You certainly have done well, Mr Maugham, as the vendor grossly miscalculated their value. The three golf balls were made in the late 19th Century and early 20th Century. One is a gutta-percha (a type of rubber) ball and the other two are early rubber cored balls. Anderson, Anderson & Anderson, whose address was St. Pauls Churchyard in London, produced the fine looking Varsity B gutty golf ball in the 1890s. This is a particularly scarce ball and very few have survived. In fact there has only been one sold at auction (2000) and that one had had its core removed. Even so it sold for £200. Our reader’s Varsity appears to be in near mint un-played condition. The second ball – with its unusual randomly placed studs cover pattern – is an Army & Navy CSL (Co-operative Supply Ltd) No.2 ball made around 1905. Again, a scarce ball because the more common cover pattern is the bramble (like a blackberry) pattern. The Army & Navy Co-operative was founded in 1871 by a group of Army and Navy officers who had decided that their mess bills had become too expensive. They decided that it would be cheaper to buy cases of wine at wholesale prices. The Army & Navy Association became a large chain of retail shops offering all sorts of items from wallpaper to sports ware, with extensive distribution throughout the British Empire. Finally, the third ball, a Springvale Falcon bramble golf ball circa 1906, as made in Scotland by Hutchison Main & Co. Again it appears to in near mint condition. Hutchison Main was sued the following year for patent infringement by the Haskell Company in the USA who had invented the rubber core ball in 1898. This legal action more or less bankrupted Hutchison Main and it closed in 1912.

VALUE: The golf ball sector remains buoyant especially for golf balls that never or seldom come to auction. Condition is maybe not just as important as, say, golfing ceramics for instance. A golf ball can be missing some of its original paint but as long as it is rare and displays well it will sell well. At auction the three golf balls would sell as individually lots with the A & N at £300, the Varsity B also at £300 and the Falcon ball at £200.

PAYNE STEWART SIGNATURE

I would like your opinion on this signed US Open programme. Its significance should be obvious. - David Griffiths, Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Payne Stewart won his second US Open at Pinehurst No.2 in June 1999. Six months after that US Open victory – and barely a month after playing a part in the Ryder Cup at Brookline – Payne died along with the crew when a private jet suffered decompression and ultimately crashed into a field in South Dakota, on 25 October 1999. I was privileged to meet Payne on two occasions. The first was at the 1985 Open at Royal St. Georges. I was caddying for my brother Garth and his playing partners were two ‘unknowns’ – Payne Stewart and Ian Baker- Finch. Both were true gentlemen and superb golfers. The second occasion was at a Titleist party before the 1986 Masters. Payne literally held court all evening telling jokes and funny golfing anecdotes. Maybe he was a little brash but he was a pleasure to be around. At the time of his death, the 42 year old golfer was ranked No. 10 in the world with $12.67 million in career earnings. He won 11 PGA Tour events and three majors – the 1989 PGA Championship and the ’91 and ’99 US Opens.

VALUE: Strangely, Payne Stewart signed items haven’t escalated in price. A signature on a blank piece of card is worth £50; signed on a profile photograph such as in a programme £75 and as in this case on a full image £150. But such an item can only increase in value.

VINTAGE GOLF BALL TIN

My late father kept screws and plugs in this tin. Neither of us plays golf but I was told that as a golf ball tin, it could be worth something. Andy Swann, Bromsgrove, Wirral

Readers may remember Dunlop’s small yellow bicycle puncture tins. Well, this is a similar tin albeit larger measuring 10 x 3½ x 2½ inches. It would have contained 15 late 1920s and early 1930s Dunlop golf balls. The tin would have been displayed in the professional’s shop in the hope of enticing members to spend 2/6 on a new Black or Blue Maxfli ball. I suppose that once in a while an affluent golfer would buy the full tin. 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 Dunlop, 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, as it was most likely languishing on an old work top surface somewhere. But overall it is in a very acceptable condition.

VALUE: Keenly sought after by golf ball collectors, it should fetch at least £200 at auction.

BRASS HEARTH SET

Our hearth set is a permanent fixture in our holiday cottage. What do you know about it please? Steve Prior, Norwich, Norfolk

This brass metal hearth set features a young caddie with a bag of clubs. The caddie was modeled after a real-life caddie called Charles Elkins, who caddied for Arthur Havers (Coombe Hill) when he won the 1923 Open Champion at Troon with a score of 295. I have seen similar items including a door stop and a weather vane. I’ve also seen them in different metals and finishes.

VALUE:A popular addition to any golfing home throughout the 1930s andwell into the 1950s, but probably not so in 2010. Even so at auction these Elkin pieces continue to fetch £50 plus.

HANDBOOK

I collect Golf Club handbooks and was particularly pleased to acquire this one last week as Westward Ho! is my all-time favourite English links course. I tend to pay on average £10 for such a booklet but in this instance I paid £20. Calvin Ferguson Tidworth, Wiltshire

The great golf scribe Bernard Darwin authored this history of The Royal North Devon Golf Club in 1921. Darwin (grandson of Charles) was called, ‘the greatest golf writer of all time’ by his American counterpart, Herbert Warren Wind. Running to just 24 pages this 7½ x 5 inch publication included advertisements, illustrations from photographs and a two page map of the course. The publishers were the Golf Clubs Association and they published literally hundreds of Club histories. This one dates to 1925, but there were at least 7 editions over the years with the last known one being produced in 1956. Such handbooks were free and were financed by the advertising contained within.

VALUE: This is a reasonably scarce title, as it wasn’t recorded by Donovan and Murdoch in their 1985 bibliography, The Game of Golf and The Printed Word 1566- 1985. However it was recorded in Donovan and Jerris, the bibliography that superceded Donovan and Murdoch, in 2006. There will be several collector factions interested in this handbook. Obviously there are the Darwin aficionados, many of whom so dedicated that they are obliged to collect every one of his many books; then there are those (like the reader) who collect club handbooks in general. And then there is the small group of professional lake and pond divers who empty water hazards of their golf balls. For the older courses, where these hazards are no longer obvious, such handbooks with original and detailed golf course plans are worth their weight in gold! At auction, in this tidy complete condition, I would expect this handbook to fly out comfortably at £40 or more.

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine

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