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So what are these worth - Golfing Memorabilia Valuations

Ever-popular cigarette cards, a rare Ryder Cup momento, a forerunner of the modern tee-peg and a handsome set of Harold Riley Limited Edition prints formed the basis of this month’s postbag for Gi’s auction-room expert Kevin McGimpsey


What can you tell me about these golfer cigarette cards?
Kieran Russell via email

One of the most popular sectors of golf memorabilia remains collecting cigarette cards. Although some of the earliest golf cards were issued with other products, the majority of cards between 1900 and 1940 were issued with cigarette products. Hence, they are referred to as “cigarette cards”.

Cigarettes were originally packed in the same manner as pipe chewing tobacco – i.e. in a fragile packet that was easily crushed. The eventual insertion of a cardboard ‘stiffener’ led, in turn, to the printing of pictures, information and marketing opportunities on these cardboard cards.

These often visual and colourful cards were of an educational benefit but that wasn’t why they were produced. The smokers and or their children found it great fun searching for the cards, especially the elusive ones and completing the set; the more they bought and smoked the better the chance of getting that elusive card (these were the days before health warnings!). These proved so popular that the majority of the tobacco firms were soon issuing cards.

This is a very rare set of just 12 cards; more often the full set would comprise 36 cards. They were issued by W.A. & A.C. Churchman and enclosed with their cigarettes in 1931. The name of the series was ‘Prominent Golfers’ and these included coloured caricatures of: #1 Glenna Collett; #2 Archie Compston; #3 Henry Cotton; #4 Walter Hagen; #5 Bobby Jones; #6 Abe Mitchell; #7 Fred Robson; #8 C.J.H. Tolley; #9 Harry Vardon; #10 Joyce Wethered; #11 Roger Wethered and #12 Charles Whitcombe.

Unlike the size of traditional cigarette cards these ones are similar to small sized playing cards measuring 3 x 2¼ inches. It was also unusual to have included two Lady golfers, as well as a brother and sister within the 12 cards.

VALUE: I have checked current retail values with the leading card experts, Murray Cards in London who sell single cards for £20 each or the set of 12 cards for just under £400. At a traditional golf auction, the price would be less than retail and I would expect the 12 cards to fetch £350.


‘Issie’ Sidebottom, who was my uncle-in-law played against Gene Sarazen in 1929. This I have assumed is a memento of the match. Has it much value?
Mrs. Chappell, Southport Lancashire.

This silver plaque must be one of the earliest Ryder Cup objects to have survived all these years. Why Ryder Cup? Because at the top of the plaque is the inscription, ‘American Ryder Cup Team v Manchester Amateurs May 13th 1929’. Also, in the centre of the plaque is the engraved signature of the great Gene Sarazen.

In 1929 the American Ryder Cup team of J. Farrell, L. Diegel, G. Sarazen, J. Turnesa, H. Smith, A, Watrous, E. Espinosa and team Captain W. Hagen set sail for the British Isles on 10 April. When they had docked in Britain they travelled to Muirfield and between 8-10 May they played in the Open which for the second consecutive year was won by Walter Hagen with a total of 292. The 2nd Ryder Cup Matches at Moortown Golf Club Leeds were scheduled to be played over two days in late May (26-27).

The Manchester Guardian and Evening News had spotted a gap in the itinerary of the Americans following Muirfield. The paper’s proprietors appreciated that there were many golfing enthusiasts in the North West of England and Manchester specifically who would not get the opportunity of seeing the action at Moortown. An additional attraction was the fact that the American Captain, Walter Hagen, was the reigning Open Champion.

So a well publicised Match was set up at Stockport Golf Club between the 1929 American Ryder Cup team and a team of Manchester and area amateurs. The format was that one American would play the better ball of a two-man amateur team.

The Americans, who were so much stronger on paper, were given a good run for their money by the gifted amateurs, largely because the Americans had never seen the course before and the Stockport greens were much slower than those at Muirfield where they had last played. Gene Sarazen, who would win the ‘Grand Slam’ of major championships between 1922 and 1935, was up against the home pair of Israel ‘Issie’ Sidebottom and S.S. Potter. Israel Sidebottom, who at one time played to a handicap of +7, was the consummate amateur but it was said that he probably won more in side bets than he ever could have won as a professional!

Potter and Sidebottom knew the course too well for Sarazen. They started from the 13th, where Sarazen immediately found himself one down after bunkering his second shot. He squared at the next but lost the 16th by overclubbing. From the 17th to the 5th each hole was halved, but Sarazen lost the 6th. He immediately undid the damage with a bird

ie on the 7th, only to lose the 8th when he failed to find the green. Again he pulled one back at the 10th, but local knowledge prevailed and Sidebottom and Potter’s better-ball 71 saw them home by 3 & 2. At the conclusion of the matches, the Stockport Golf Club Captain presented each of the Americans with a pair of cuff-links, with the Cheshire crest on one link and the Stockport Golf Club crest on the other. Walter Hagen replied: ‘It is something we can remember you by; something we could keep up our sleeves.’

The American team then left for Leeds to compete in the Yorkshire Evening News 1000 Guineas Professional Golf Tournament. After that they were ready for the Ryder Cup.

Or not, as it turned out. The American team was beaten 7-5 by George Duncan’s GB & I team and Sarazen lost both his foursomes and his singles matches. The true gentleman that he was, on returning to the States, Sarazen remembered to post one of his silver autographed mementos to both Sidebottom and Potter.

VALUE: This early piece of Ryder Cup history will be keenly sought after by Ryder Cup buffs – and there are plenty of them – as well as Sarazen and Masters collectors. If it was to come to auction, I would expect bidding to start at £500 and end up in four figures.


This box of paper tees has been in my desk drawer for years. I kept meaning to donate them to my Club. Have they any value?
Norman Hopkins Brighton

Oh yes indeed!

In the early days, golfers would go to a box filled with sand – which were located on every teeing up area – and fashion a mound of sand (dampened to assist in the process) upon which to place the ball. Usually, the task fell to the caddie. During the 1880s the development of the teeing device was fast and furious. First there were metal tee moulds, such as the ‘Alexander’, that was advertised as being ‘simple in use’.

Later these moulds became more sophisticated with springs and plungers. For example, with the Greenwood’s Golf Tee Mould, sand was pushed into the mould and when the spring-loaded top was depressed it ejected a perfectly formed sand tee…‘Any caddie can use it…makes perfect moulds…always same height …thus ensuring consistent driving.’

In 1895, the first American golf patent for a tee was made from heavy paper/card, a flat piece of semi-circular paper that could be formed into a cone, then rested on the ground and the golf ball placed on top.

I have seen Army & Navy and ‘Colonel Bogey’ fully formed paper tees that were packaged in small round boxes of 25 to a box. I had read that Atkinson & Griffin, gun and cycle makers in Kendal had also made similar paper tees, but until now never seen them!

William Atkinson had founded the original gun-making business at 58 High Gate in Kendal, Westmorland, in 1894. His patent was very similar to the one patented by Prosper Senat, an artist from Philadelphia whereby the tee was ‘a Cshaped card joined at its ends to form a truncated cone. Along its edges were notches and markings to help the golfer keep score’. Why a gun-maker got involved with making golf tees, who only knows? One thing is for sure – we have to a certain extent come full circle with a number of inventors-manufacturers in today’s golf market making environmentally friendly paper tees!

VALUE: These are very rare and will be highly sought after. Not only are they complete with all 50 paper tees in place but the box is in good condition too. I wouldn’t be surprised if they sold at auction for over £300!


I would appreciate an appraisal as to value of the five golfing prints, all mounted and framed in gold in pristine condition.
Peter B. Wilson Rochdale Lancashire

These Special Limited Edition prints (three shown) were painted by the artist Harold Riley. Their subject matters include Nick Faldo at the 1991 Ryder Cup on the 2nd hole playing his singles match with annotated notes from Riley, ‘was distraught about poor foursomes but went out and won his final singles’ and another of Nick Faldo at the 1992 Open at Muirfield, again with Riley noting on the painting, ‘Nick Faldo playing the 12th behind Kite in the 2nd round – went on to win the Championship’.

Harold Riley was born in Salford in 1934. At 17 he won a scholarship to the Slade art school in London and went on to study in Florence and Spain before returning to Salford, where he has lived ever since. His deep affection for his home town cemented a friendship with L S Lowry, which began when Riley was a student. Alongside his portrayal of ordinary working lives, Riley developed his reputation as a portrait artist of the rich and famous.

He has painted Popes, American Presidents and Royalty but it his sporting works, particularly golf, that are also very sought after. Regular readers will be aware that his art has been featured many times in Golf International.

VALUE: These really are Limited Edition prints (only 50 of each) unlike some other artists whose idea of a Limited edition can often exceed 700! They have been signed by the artist and professionally mounted and framed. However I wouldn’t add much for the frames. For valuation purposes I would see the 5 prints being offered at auction as a set with a low estimate of £500 and a high of £800.

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine



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