This lot of William Atkinson paper tees has some serious history. These paper tees were produced in the early 1890s by William Atkinson as one of the earliest alternatives to sand tees. Notice that he tees themselves are marked "Wm Atkinson," the name of his firm in the 1890s, and "Kendal & Lancaster," the two locations he ran in the 1890s.
The Aug 11, 1893 issue of Golf includes a report on these paper tees: "Atkinson's Paper Golf Tee. It is not easy, in these days of inattentive, uninstructed caddies, to get a satisfactory tee of sand made.... Several expedients have been devised as a substitute for the piles of sand which many caddies insist on laying down at the tee. One of the best is the paper golf tee. It is uniform in height, light, simple, and very cheap. We have received a sample from Mr. W. Atkinson, The Golf Store, Market Street, Lancaster. Mr Atkinson's tee is just the thing that golfers have been in search of, and as the cost is only 1s. pet box of 100, one can see that the extra cost is infinitesimal, while the player has always a uniform tee to play from. It also prevents delay at the tee. For ladies the paper tee is particularly suitable."
This box that holds these 4 paper tees is marked "Atkinson & Griffen, Gun and Cycle Maker, Kendal" and "provisional patented." It was produced early in the 20th century by William Atkinson after his business became Atkinson & Griffen. While the offered box only holds 4 tees now, the tees were paper thin and stackable, so the box likely held 100 tees originally.
As mentioned, the tees in this box are marked "Wm Atkinson, Kendall & Lancaster," his business name and locations in the 1890s when Atkinson first produced his paper tees. It should be noted that Atkinson also made these same tees in the early 1900s and marked them "Atkinson & Griffen" around the top rim to match the "Atkinson & Griffen" name on the box in this lot.
So, as shown, this lot consists of first generation tees in a second generation box. The fact that these "Wm Atkinson" tees were found inside an "Atkinson & Griffen" box would seem to indicate that the tees were sold with this box. Atkinson could have had a supply of his original tees when he began producing Atkinson & Griffen boxes; or he did not immediately changed his tee to read "Atkinson & Griffen" when he began producing them for sale in Atkinson & Griffen boxes; or somebody combined the two years ago.
A quick internet search for Atkinson & Griffin revealed much more about William Atkinson and his businesses in Kendal and Lancaster:
"William Atkinson was the son of Joseph Atkinson of Lancaster. He was born in 1851.
"By 1871 William had joined his father in the gunmaking business in Lancaster, but in about 1874 he opened his own business at 52 Stricklandgate, Kendal, Westmoreland; in about 1878 this moved to 8 All Hallows Lane. There may have been a branch of the firm in Preston.
"In 1881 Joseph Atkinson retired and William, his son, took over the business in Lancaster re-naming it William Atkinson [as is marked on the actual tees in this lot].
"In about 1885 the firm moved to 20 Market Street, between 1890 and 1901 they took over the adjoining premises at 18 Market Street.
"Between 1890 and 1894 the business in Kendal moved to 58 Highgate.
"Joseph Atkinson died in the late 1890s, and in 1900 the firm Lancaster business was re-named William Atkinson & Sons. By this time the firm had a substantial trade in bicycles.
"In about 1901 a branch was opened at 11 Skipton Street, Morecambe, Lancashire. It appears to have closed in about 1905. Between 1901 and 1905 the Kendal business became known as Atkinson & Griffin [as is marked on the box in this lot], it appears to have ceased trading in 1925.
"Between about 1905 and 1909 the firm in Lancaster occupied premises in North Road."
Early paper golf tees did not last, for obvious reasons. Consequently they are highly sought after by tee collectors. From everything the auctioneer knows, Atkinson's paper tees are likely the first ones ever produced, and that is serious history, indeed!