With the advent of the gutty ball, which was initially made and sold with a smooth surface, golfers discovered that the ball flew better after it had been cut/marked during play. Consequently. Somewhere round 1850 gutty ball makers began to mark up the surface of the ball before it was sold. The ball offered here is one of the first such balls. There are light cuts or hammer marks (ball makers would use the claw of a hammer such as a cobbler's hammer) that run lengthwise from pole to pole. As time went along, ballmakers made the marks more intricate and pronounced. Eventually, criss-crossing lines were cut in by a machine, and after that ball molds were made with the marks inside.
According to an article in the November 11, 1896 issue of The Golfer (p392) "In the early days of the gutta balls, they were played with quite smooth. The ball makers then began to give them a hack here and there with a hammer, and that improved their flight. Old Bob Kirk claims that he was the first to make balls with regular stripped marks. The smooth moulds then came in, and Mr. Forgan claims that he was the first to cross-knick the balls, and make a pattern with the hammer marks."
From the above account we learn that simple "stripes" formed by cut marks running from pole to pole, which this ball has, were the first "scoring pattern" ever used on a golf ball. The pattern was even in use before smooth molds came into being. (It should be noted that Forgan's pattern was intricate and introduced in the 1860s. It became the most popular pattern of that era. Old Bob Kirk Sr. [1810-1891] lived in St. Andrews and was well known.
This 165-170 year-old-ball appears to be unplayed/unused. Because the paint is quite brittle, a fair portion has chipped off during its life. Even so, this ball still retains much of its original paint, which requires care when handling. I have included an image of the cover of Kevin McGimpseys "The Story of the Golf Ball" and notice that the second ball on the cover, a smooth gutty, also has chips in its paint. This is typical of the paint used on the earliest gutty balls as they remain today.
This ball is truly a historic item—and among the rarest of golf balls that remain.
(It should be noted that smooth guttys and hand-hammered gutty's can
easily be replicated and then sold anonymously at auction. This ball,
with its original paint, however, is clearly the genuine article and is
so guaranteed by the auctioneer. Also see the Allan hand-cut gutty
ball in this auction.)
July 18, 2019: If requested, the auctioneer will be happy to provide a letter of authenticity to the winning bidder.