The magnificent c. 1830 feather ball offered here is in mint original
condition and was made by Champion golfer and ballmaking artist Thomas
Alexander. It looks little different from the day it was sold. It bears beautiful, unblemished white paint, a strong "T. Alexander" stamp, and a clear handwritten "29" for the weight of the ball. All seams are perfect. Furthermore! This is the very same Alexander feather ball pictured top
right on page 760 v. 2 of The Clubmaker's Art! The
auctioneer once owned this ball but sold it in the mid 1990s. Over 25
years later, the ball has come back "home" even if only for a brief
period of time. What a treat!
Tom Alexander was born in 1803 and died in 1841. He was located in Musselburgh where he made feather balls. He was revered for not only his craftsmanship as a ballmaker but also for his skill as a golfer. In 1835 he traveled to St. Andrews and defeated David Robertson, Allan's father who was a ballmaker in St. Andrews, to be crowned as the Champion golfer over all. It was not until 1840 when Alexander relinquished his title, losing a close match at St. Andrews to David's son, Allan. Unfortunately, Alexander died the following year at age 38.
This changing of the guard from Thomas Alexander to Allan Roberson as the champion golfer is recalled in the August 27, 1863 issue of the Fifeshire Journal. “At the beginning of the century….Balls at that time were a serious matter; they took long to make, and consequently they were dear, and one foul stroke would have ruined any of them….Professional golfers were then even scarce…David Robertson was Champion in 1830, but lost it in 1835, having been beat by Tom Alexander. Mr. Robertson’s son, the far-famed Allan, regained the honours from Alexander in 1840 and retained them while he lived.”
The Perthshire Courier dated 18 Feb, 1841 reported the death of Thomas Alexander, noting that Alexander was both a champion golfer and superb ballmaker. "At Golf House, Musselburgh, on the 7th instant, Thomas Alexander, golf-ball maker, [died] in his thirty-eighth year. As an artiste, in the laborious handicraft of ball-making, he held the highest rank, as a golfer, for nearly twenty years he had no equal in skilful execution of the nicer subtleties of the game; and his unexpected decease (from aneurism of the heart) has occasioned a blank in the golfing community not likely soon to be filled up.
If you desire only the rarest, top of the mountain, best in the world of antique golf balls, this ball definitely qualifies.
This ball is to the far left in the accompanying large group image, and in the center of the image of 6 balls.