CHRISTIE’S TO OFFER SUPERB COLLECTION OF RARE GOLF BALLS Christie’s sale of Tennis, Cricket and Golf on 5 July is to offer a rare collection of nineteen 19th century golf balls, with a collective estimate in the region of £100,000 to 150,000.
News-Antique.com - Nov 30,-0001 - South Kensington – Christie’s sale of Tennis, Cricket and Golf on 5 July is to offer a rare
collection of nineteen 19th century golf balls, with a collective
estimate in the region of £100,000 to 150,000. The collection
includes eighteen feather-filled golf balls and one hand
hammered example, all dating from the 1830s and 1840s and all
in excellent condition. Every example of the collection comes
complete with superb provenance: most are still complete with
original receipt, and the remaining examples were exhibited in
the Glasgow International Exhibition of 1901. The individual
estimates range from £3,500 to £18,000.
The origins of golf lead back to a game played in the East coast of Scotland in the 15th century.
By the middle of this century, golf had already become incredibly popular; the looming threat of
English invasion in 1457 saw King James II ban the sport as it was causing such a distraction to
the training of his soldiers! The popularity of the game continued to spread across Europe, but it
was not until 1851 that golf became a professional sport and the first major national
championship was contested.
The early game of golf involved hitting a wooden ball with a wooden stick, but the game was
revolutionized in 1618 with the introduction of the ‘Featherie’ golf ball. A wet cowhide sphere
was stuffed with a top-hat fill of wet goose feathers. As the cowhide dried, it shrank and as the
feathers dried, they expanded, thus creating a hard, compact ball. These were then painted and
sold, usually for a greater price than a golf club. The expense of these golf balls are thought to
have contributed to the notion of golf as a rich man’s sport.
As a career golfer in the 18th and 19th centuries, there were few ways to make money. Golf
matches were usually contested for money, but the primary source of income was manufacturing
golf equipment. The ‘Featherie’ golf balls to be offered at Christie’s on 5 July include examples
made by Williams, Gressick, Pirie and Tom Morris, all of whom were golf players based in St.
Andrew’s. Tom Morris is the most famous of these names. Having apprenticed with Allan
Robertson, golf’s first great professional, he established his own golf equipment manufacturing
business by the side of the 18th green on the Old Course at St. Andrew’s. This business continued
throughout his lifetime, consistently employing six skilled craftsmen. Morris is famous for having
won four Open championships in the 1860s, and he still stands as the oldest person to have ever
won the event at the age of 46. He contributed to the design of a number of famous golf courses,
including Royal Dornoch, Muirfield, Carnoustie and Royal County Down.
The sale of Tennis, Cricket and Golf Memorabilia on 5 July will offer a wide range of items from
traditional sport, including tennis rackets, cricket caps, porcelain, paintings, medals, golf clubs and
Images available on request
Visit Christie’s at www.christies.com
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