This circa 1896 Helsby machine line cut
gutta percha golf ball was part of the famous Harry B. Wood Collection. It
still contains the well-recognized small paper label bearing Wood's handwritten
date and notation. These labels were created by Wood in order to display his
grand collection of memorabilia in the late 1800s and very early 1900s. 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. Harry B. Wood assembled, cataloged, and displayed
approximately 175 golf balls for his legendary collection. In his original
display case, this 1896 Helsby gutta percha is listed as ball #87. See The
Story of the Golf Ball by KW McGimpsey, p. 43.
This exact ball
is pictured on plate XIX in The Story of the Golf Ball (2003) by Kevin McGimpsey. This 1896 Helsby gutta percha golf ball is in
excellent condition, and retains 99% of its original paint. The “Helsby”
lettering is readable, which is rare for this ball with its faint stamping.
Harry B. Wood's original label is in Good overall condition.