Specializing in Fine Antique Golf Clubs and Historic Memorabilia

Lot # 17: Brand's 1891 Patent Pneumatic Golf Ball

Category: Golf Balls

Starting Bid: $2,000.00

Bids: 6 (Bid History)

Time Left: Auction closed
Lot / Auction Closed

This lot is closed. Bidding is not allowed.

Item was in Auction "Summer Golf Auction 2019",
which ran from 7/3/2019 12:00 PM to
7/20/2019 8:00 PM

Marked "Brand's Patent" on one pole and "Pneumatic Golf Ball" on the other, this ball is made out of celluloid and has an air-filled core. It was produced under British Patent No. 19763 issued in 1891—at least that is what the inventor John A.F. Brand claimed. According to my research, Brand only applied for the patent in November of 1891 but never completed the process. 

Brand nevertheless put his ball into production. In a letter to the editor of Golf published in the September 9, 1892 issue, one writer claimed the ball was just a little too durable:

     "Some months ago I invested in a celluloid ball, Brand's Patent Pneumatic, and tried various experiments with it.  It seemed well enough suited for iron practice, but when I tried it with wooden clubs, It always ended in death to the wooden club.  Thinking that a brassie at least would be able to withstand impact with celluloid, I found to my horror that a 'topped' shot not only failed to mark the ball, but the brass plate was so much bent that it had to be taken off and rebeaten!

     "An enterprising friend at St. Neots requested the loan of the celluloid ball; it was returned a week later, and a note enclosed to the effect that 'the first drive went away very well indeed; so did the head of my driver after it...."

To the golfers of the day, the fact that the celluloid was so hard that it damaged wooden clubs outweighed the fact that the ball was tough to cut.... Consequently remaining examples today are exceedingly rare.  The auctioneer has only seen this single example.  As you would expect, the ball is still in wonderful condition, with no cuts and only light blemishes to its surface.

Brand's Pneumatic ball represents one of the earliest efforts to make a ball during the gutty ball era from a material other than gutta percha. In addition, Brand's was the first pneumatic ball ever made. Others would follow years later.

July 6, 2019

One additional point.  Being made from white Celluloid, which has now yellowed across the years, the ball was a ballmaker/golfer dream-come-true, first-of-its-kind in one respect: It did not need to be painted white. Unlike the dark brown and red gutta percha used to make every other golf ball in the world at the time, Brand's Celluloid ball was white through out!







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