August 16, 2007

Buying a brassie

Historic, unusual...and expensive. You will not believe the clubs found in Jeffery B. Ellis' collection.

Historic, unusual...and expensive. You will not believe the clubs found in Jeffery B. Ellis' collection.

One of the most significant antique golf club collections will be auctioned Sept. 27-28 at Sotheby's in New York. The Jeffery B. Ellis collection, with nearly 800 clubs, including some dating to the 1600s, can be seen for free at a public exhibition Sept. 20-26. With price estimates for individual clubs ranging from $200 to $300,000, the auction is sure to excite collectors. The 17th-century "square toe light iron" (left) is estimated to sell for as much as $250,000, and the "long nose putter" (right), made by Andrew Dickson around 1750, could go for $200,000 or more. Many buyers might have read about Ellis' clubs in his three books. His latest, The Clubmaker's Art: Second Edition Revised and Expanded, was published in January and details his entire collection. The big beneficiaries of the sale (besides the seller and Sotheby's) are the reputations of Dickson, Willie Park Sr., Old Tom Morris, Hugh Philp, Willie Dunn Sr., David Strath and Robert Ferguson, just a few of the clubmakers whose handiwork might start a bidding war, even if their clubs can't be used to drive a ball 340 yards.