Lot # 6: c.1845 Gourlay Feather Ball

Category: Golf Balls

Starting Bid: $2,500.00

Bids: 1 (Bid History)

Time Left: Auction closed
Lot / Auction Closed

This lot is closed. Bidding is not allowed.

Item was in Auction "Spring 2022",
which ran from 3/3/2022 12:00 PM to
3/19/2022 8:00 PM

Feather Balls are marvels in their own right. Many craftsmen have tried to make them today, but nobody has been able to copy them and achieve the same hard, resilient character of the originals. It truly is crazy to think the the oldest known golf balls were made out of leather stuff with feathers—and that they worked!  Because of the growing demand as the 19th century progressed, some of the better makers took to making work.  

This ball was originally marked "Gourlay".  Much of the makers name on this ball has been lost, however, but enough of the "OU" and bottom half of the R remains that the ball can be accurately identified as having been stamped "Gourlay". What preceeded "Gourlay" could have been "W", "J", or "W&J".  William and John Gourlay were the third of generation of Gourlays who made golf balls.  William began making featherballs on his own in 1836, after his father (William Sr.) died.  Between 1839 and 1844 William and John worked together.  After William died in 1844, John continued to make feather balls until around 1850, at which time the gutty ball was well on its way. 

This ball itself is solid and well made.  The seams are tight and the closing stitch is rock solid. While some of its paint has worn off, it does not have any strike marks. At over 170 years old, this amazing relic remains in excellent condition. 

Because the single images of this ball are much larger than the actual ball, the "wear" becomes exaggerated, especially when zooming in (viewing it under a microscope so to speak), and makes the ball look much different than it looks in real life.  The group golf ball picture included with this lot provides a more accurate depiction of what this featherball looks like in a normal setting—and it looks really good!

This feather ball is on the lower left corner in the golf ball group shot in the accompanying images. This group shot includes many other golf balls lots in this auction and demonstrates the remarkable evolutionary story of the  golf ball, from feather ball to hand-hammered gutty, line cut red gutty, molded gutty, the Haskell and early rubber core balls.  

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