Lot # 5: Smooth Gutta Golf Ball "After Hacking" from the Harry B. Wood Collection

Category: Golf Balls

Starting Bid: $1,000.00

Bids: 16 (Bid History)

Time Left: Auction closed
Lot / Auction Closed

This lot is closed. Bidding is not allowed.

Item was in Auction "2016 Winter Auction",
which ran from 11/22/2016 3:00 PM to
12/10/2016 8:00 PM

Golf balls are perhaps the hottest golf memorabilia in the world right now. To longtime collectors, this will not be a surprise, as golf balls were once the crème de la crème of the golf world. Finally, after years of being overlooked, golf balls seem poised for their rightful return to prominence. And rightful it is. Most historians agree – it was the ball, not the club, that most influenced the game of golf. Our last auction saw 2 individual balls sell for over $30,000 each, as well as other golf balls sell for $14,000 and $8,000, respectively. And there are reports that a scarce “Paterson’s Composite” golf ball recently traded hands privately for a whopping $200,000 – the highest price ever paid for a golf ball.

Offered in this auction is one of the finest groupings of rare golf balls ever assembled for a single sale. Many of these balls were the centerpieces of the most important golf ball book ever written, The Story of the Golf Ball (2003) by Kevin McGimpsey. McGimpsey’s book is the Bible for golf ball collectors, and rightfully so.

Smooth Gutta Golf Ball "After Hacking" from the Harry B. Wood Collection

This is without question one of the finest golf balls that we've ever encountered. The invention of the gutta percha golf ball was the most seminal moment in golf history. Without it, the game of golf could not become mainstream and would not be the game we know and love today. When gutta percha golf balls were first produced in approximately 1848, they were smooth. Golfers began to notice that the balls actually flew better after being getting knicked up by their clubs. Those golfers started requesting that ball makers "knick" balls before taking delivery. This quickly resulted in the well-known "hand hammered" gutta percha balls. But offered here is one of those first smooth gutty golf balls that has some random, crude "hacks" to help improve the ball's flight.

Any smooth gutty would be significant, but the offered golf ball was part of the famous Harry B. Wood collection. Wood himself labeled the ball "Smooth Gutta after Hacking". These labels were created by Wood in order to display his grand collection of memorabilia in the late 1800s and very early 1900s. Many of Wood’s original labels have, quite reasonably, aged poorly over the past 100+ years. But not this example, which is in high grade condition and easily legible. Harry B. Wood began his collection in 1868, just two years after the Royal & Ancient announced their own intentions to assemble a museum. Few golf antiques share the provenance and history of items from the Harry B. Wood Collection. 

Everything about this circa 1850 smooth gutty golf ball is exceptional. Smooth gutties are notoriously difficult to authenticate, but the offered example comes with the exceptional provenance of being part of the Harry B. Wood collection. The ball is also superb example of the earliest efforts of creating aerodynamic patterns on a golf ball. This is a centerpiece ball for any serious collection, as few finer golf balls exist.

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