Auction of rare golf collectibles coincides with British Open

A fascinating annual side trip for golf aficionados planning to arrive early for the British Open is the auction of rare golf collectibles that coincides with the Championship.

The Lyon & Turnbull Auction House will hold this year’s big sale July 10 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The Open Championship is July 18-21 at Muirfield, in the town of Gullane, about 15 miles east of Edinburgh.

The sale will feature about 400 lots, said Jimmy Olman, proprietor of The Golf Shop Collection in Cincinnati. Olman coordinated the sale acquisitions for Lyon & Turnbull.

“I’ve accomplished what I set out to do, which was to get good stuff at a wide price range,” said Olman. “We wanted this sale to appeal to the novice collector as well as the high-end buyer.”

Some of the books, competition medals, ephemera (posters, photos, tournament programs, scorecards, etc.), balls and clubs can be had in the $200 to $500 range.

Of interest to those with deeper pockets, Olman said, is the original painting of Arnold Palmer that was used for the cover of Sports Illustrated when The King was named the magazine’s Sportsman of the Year for 1961. The oil painting, by noted magazine artist Thomas Allen, is expected to go for $75,000 to $85,000. The Palmer portrait was the first piece of artwork used for an SI Sportsman of the Year cover.

Other notable items include:

  • Bobby Jones’ solid gold membership card from the Detroit Golf Club (estimated sale price: $12,000 to $14,000).

  • Bernard Darwin’s 1920 classic “Golf Courses of the British Isles,” with an original Harry Rountree portrait bound into the book (estimated $5,000).

  • A rare British patent club, the Hardingham T-frame putter, circa 1905.

  • An early 20th Century iron with a threaded wooden shaft that screws into the head.

  • An array of Tom Morris items, including an 1875 putter and an 1870 play club.

  • Feather balls; sand tee molds; metal stamps for clubheads; a Timex Ben Hogan pocket watch; an English golf club ballot box (used for memberships); and a mold used to make The Ideal golf ball by Willie Park (circa 1904).

The complete catalog can be viewed online at www.lyonandturnbull.com. For more information, or to arrange bidding by phone or online, call Rachel Doer at 011-44-131-557-8844.

Another sale is slated for July 14 in Chester, England, presented by Bob Gowland International Golf Auctions.

Gowland will be offering “what may well prove to be the earliest and rarest item of golfing social memorabilia ever to come to the market,” a silver watch Gowland says was presented to James Balfour of the Honourable Company of Muirfield Golfers as a long-drive prize in 1790.

Also in the Gowland auction: a silver snuff box presented to Willie Park in 1867 for winning his third Open Championship at Prestwick; a Hugh Philp thornwood-head shortspoon; and an original Blackheath Golfer mezzotint.

For more information, visit www.internationalgolfauctions.com or call 011-44-1928-740668.

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