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. He did not complete 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. 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.
But there is yet another feature about this particular ball that is major-league historic. Being made from white Celluloid, which has now yellowed across the
years, this ball was a ballmaker/golfer dream-come-true,
first-of-its-kind in another respect: It did not need to be painted white.
As found in the April 7, 1893 issue of Golf, the North British
Rubber Company advertised that "Brand's patent celluloid golf ball,
white throughout, is now on the market." 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 and through except for the pocket of compressed air in its center!
16,1897 issue of Golfing and Cycling Illustrated reports that both the Brand
and the Melfort balls were white throughout. However, that article
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 easily 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."
This Brand ball offered here has never been painted and is cream colored. In outstanidng original condition, this ball is a fabulous example and the only White Celluloid Brand's Patent Pnuematic ball known to the auctioneer. The fact that it is such an early molded pattern golf ball is also demonstrated by the fact that the top half and the bottom half of the ball do not line up quite right. Whoever put the mold together did it before it became important to take the time to adjust the mold, so the pattern on the ball would line up around the equator. There is a LOT of great history in this ball.
This ball is shown bottom row second from the left in the accompanying large group image, and its the top ball in the 6-ball image