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What are these worth?

Auction-room expert, Kevin McGimpsey, answers more of your letters



As a golf club collector, I am particularly interested in the ‘Whole in One’ or adjustable clubs that were invented in the 1890s. Please find a photograph of a Bussey and Pinder patent adjustable club with an interchangeable head, stamped to the back of the head in capital letters, ‘Patent’. J. Allen, Fulwood, Preston

The object of these mechanical adjustable irons was to make a single club take the place of a whole set or to reduce the number of irons that needed to be carried in the golf bag. It was easy to covert to left handed or right-handed for that tricky shot when up against an obstruction which could restrict the normal path of a swing, for example the wall at the St Andrew’s 17th Road Hole. For the less competitive golfer, what a great companion when walking the dog to have just one club capable of hitting shots anywhere between 100 and 200 yards!

Our reader’s William Eaton Bussey and Joseph Samuel Pinder ‘Interchangeable’ iron is even earlier than the Urquhart types that I have covered in a previouslyl. It was patented on 10 April 1892 (No. 8,864).

The blade and socket were separate pieces. The blade was ‘united’ with the socket by an extended pin that passed through a hole at the foot of the socket or shaft and secured by a nut. Consequently different heads could be used on one shaft but also they could be set at any angle. Jeff Ellis, who is the leading light on patented clubs wrote in his book, The Clubmaker’s Art page 362: ‘Bussey and Pinder formed their [club] head in the simplest of ways: a threaded extension from the blade fits through an opening in the base of the hosel and an adjustable nut is attached to the end of the extension. The mechanism is uncomplicated, but the golfer needed to carry a wrench of some type in order to tighten the nut. To eliminate such an inconvenience, most of the adjustable loft irons introduced [subsequently] operate with tools’.

Adjustable clubs enjoyed a resurgence in the 1920s and were even made as recently as the 1950s, until eventually they were deemed illegal to use by the R & A.

VALUE: Due to its rarity, at auction I would want it to have a reserve of £2,000 and would expect it to sell for over £2,500.


One of my grandfather’s prize possessions was this golfing vesta case. He left a note with it that it dated to 1907 and was made byW.H. Sparrow.What should it be insured for? M. Gordon, Bewdley in Worcestershire

Vesta cases (also known as a match safe) were popular with smokers up until the 1920s before the advent of boxed matches or fuelled lighters. Their matches were contained within the watertight case; the hinge opens and clicks tightly to keep out damp and wetness and when needed were removed to be ignited by the striker at the base of the case, but more likely from a nearby stone or flint. The cases were often decorated with an enamel golfing scene and usually crafted in silver or silver plate. W.H. Sparrow was a reputable silver smith and they would have made similar items associated with other popular outdoor pursuits and sports such as cricket and football.

Buyers beware: there are fakes aplenty of golf related vesta cases. These are made in the Far East and are sold openly in markets not as fakes but as retro antiques. A telltale sign is their brightness and the lack of wear and tear to the silver or the enamel. Our reader’s case has a small area of damage to its enamelling probably caused by it endlessly going in and out of its owner’s pockets.

VALUE: £500-600 at auction and for insurance purposes I would suggest £800.


What can you tell me about this box of small 1.62 inch golf balls? Donald Smedley, Lichfield, Staffs

These Silver King H.V. (High Velocity) dimple patterned balls were made in England by the Silver Town Company in the 1950s. They remain one of the more common post war golf balls, although it is uncommon to see an original 12 box complete with balls in their Cellophane wrappers and with their labels intact. By 1960, Spalding had taken over Silvertown and consequently the Silver King H.V. ball was no longer made.

VALUE: A dealer would be inclined to break up the 12 and sell the balls individually at £20 or so. A collector would want to keep the box of balls intact. At auction £250-300.


After reading your comments about the Walker Cup programme in your issue 84, it reminded me that I had this 24th Curtis Cup programme. Elena McLoughlin via email

Our reader’s programme comes from the 1986 Curtis Cup that was held at the Prairie Dunes Country Club, in Hutchinson Kansas.The good news was that the Great Britain & Ireland team beat the Americans 13 to 5.

VALUE:When it comes to values for team event programmes, the most sought after are Ryder Cup,Walker Cup, Curtis Cup and Solheim Cup in that order. Such a Curtis Cup programme in this pristine condition will surely appreciate over the years. Today it is only worth £25…but who knows what it will have risen to in 25 years time?

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine



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