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Going, Going, Gone!

The two-day auction of the Jeffrey B. Ellis Collection of antique golf clubs at Sotheby's in New York City September 27-28 brought in only about half of the $4 million pre-sale estimate, but it was still a record amount.

By: Tom Cunneff

Who knew Sotheby’s had “half-off” sales on golf clubs? The Jeffrey B. Ellis antique golf club collection was supposed to bring in a figure north of $4 million, but when the final club was sold, the tally was half that: $2.17 million.

A Long-Nosed Putter stamped “A.D.,” purportedly for Andrew Dickson, brought in the most at $181,000, followed by a circa 1600s square-toe iron for $151,000 and a Long-Nosed Scraper (spoon) for $91,000. (All the buyers were anonymous.)

Despite the lackluster sale with 159 of the 652 lots going unsold, Sotheby’s says it was the most money ever for a golf-memorabilia auction, and the Andrew Dickson putter was the most ever paid for a club. (The previous record was $174,900 for a circa 1780 Blacksmith's Thick Blade Putter sold in 1999 at Christie's Glasgow.)

“It has been an honor to have the opportunity to offer a collection of this caliber, and we were gratified that the most advanced collectors in the world also recognized the importance of this sale,” says Leilia Dunbar, Director of Sotheby’s Collectibles Department. “The sale of the Jeffrey B. Ellis Collection has secured its place as a groundbreaking moment for the field.”

Other big sales:

  • Palmer Patent Fork Shaft Wood by A.G. Spalding & Bros. (circa 1901): $49,000

  • Bromley & Bickely Golf Club  Sterling Silver Trophy Cup (1903): $43,000

  • Hugh Philp Presentation/Prize Putter with carved decoration (circa 1840): $37,000

  • Hartford Patent (Pending) Sword Blade "Aiming Putter" (circa 1918–19): $31,000

  • McEwan Presentation/Prize Putter with carved decoration (circa 1800): $31,000

  • Fourth Duke of Atholl’s Heavy Iron (late 18th century): $31,000

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