Lot # 9: 1891 Brand Patent Celluloid Pneumatic Golf Ball

Category: Golf Balls

Starting Bid: $500.00

Bids: 7 (Bid History)

Time Left: Auction closed
Lot / Auction Closed

This lot is closed. Bidding is not allowed.

Item was in Auction "Fall 2021",
which ran from 11/4/2021 11:00 AM to
11/21/2021 1:35 AM

This is a beautiful ball. It appears unused and is striking in the way that the black border sets off the Brand name in large block letters.  It really stands out and the maker—the North British Rubber Company—was obviously quite proud of it, and wanted it to appear dramatic, as something special!

In 1893, the North British Rubber Company advertised Brand’s Patent Celluloid pneumatic ball as being white throughout.  Also, the Sept 16,1897 issue of Golfing and Cycling Illustrated reports on the Brand and the Melfort balls as being white throughout.  However, that articles states "One defect they had, which was that they were somewhat less bright in colour than the painted ball.  This has been got over by applying a coat of white paint which is not eaqily removed.  When it does flake off, in course of hard treatment, the ball is still almost white, or at worst, a kind of cream colour."

In a close examination by the auctioneer, the ball appears have a few tiny surface chips that show dark material underneath. The auctioneer believes it is most likely dark celluloid, and here's why.

it was John Brand (of the North British Rubber Company) who in November of 1891 applied for British patent (19,763) on a celluloid pneumatic ball. According to John Duncan Dunn's article on early golf ball patents published in the August 1904 issue of Golf(ny), Brand's patent states that his ball was to be made from celluloid and have a core filled with pressurized air—in other words it was a pneumatic ball. (Dunn notes that this "celluloid pneumatic ball" was too hard and "smashed the faces of clubs."  Dunn does not state that the ball was solid white, which would have been a big deal at that time. A ball made from material that eliminated painting would have been a big step, worthy of a big marketing point and something Dunn would not have ignored. 

A long letter to the editor published in the Sept 9, 1892 issue of Golf discusses Brand's Celluloid Pnuematic ball at great length, but never mentions that it was white throughout.

It was not until the April 7, 1893 issue of Golf until the North British Rubber Company advertised that "Brand's patent celluloid golf ball, white throughout, is now on the market." (itallics mine)

There can be little doubt that this ball was originally made, and for a fair number of months thereafter, from dark celluloid.

But either way, white or dark celluloid, this Brand ball is fabulous.  Not only is its condition primo, it's the first celluloid ball and the first pneumatic ball ever produced—and the first to combine those features!

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