Lot # 23: Ex Andrew Forgan 1906 Collection, MacNeil's Cock 'O The Walk Composition Ball

Category: Golf Balls

Starting Bid: $200.00

Bids: 25 (Bid History)

Time Left: Auction closed
Lot / Auction Closed

This lot is closed. Bidding is not allowed.

Item was in Auction "Desert Mountain Collection",
which ran from 8/30/2022 6:00 AM to
9/17/2022 8:00 PM

9-8-22 Important Update to this lot is at the end of this description.

What better way to show total course domination than by playing with a ball named "Cock of the Walk?" This gutta percha ball was manufactured in the 1890's by an un-attributed manufacturer. (Confidence can stay anonymous--it speaks for itself.) This ball is stamped "MacNeil's Pat't" on one pole and "Cock of the Walk" on the other.

in 1897, J. MacNeil received a British patent (No. 21360) dated Sept 17, 1897, for a golf ball.  According to his patent his ball was to be formed from a mixture of 25-35% glue or gelatine or both, 3% of Bichromate of Potash, and the remainder either cork or roasted and ground leather.  No telling how these components were reduced and mixed before being molded into a golf ball. Because it is marked MacNeil's Patent on one pole, this ball could be the very ball covered under the 1897 MacNeil patent. in fact, it's extremely likely.

In his book The Story of the Golf Ball, Kevin McGimpsey records two Cock 'O the Walk balls and both were in the original Harry B Wood collection—#16 and #30.  Wood described the first as being "white" and the second one as being a "composition." Given that by 1911 Harry Wood had collected and documented a composition ball titled "Cock 'O the Walk" AND that J. MacNeil had a patent for a composition ball, it is extremely likely that the ball offered here marked MacNeil Patent and Cock 'O The Walk is the composition ball covered under the 1897 Patent.

The old, yellowed label on the side of this outstanding ball indicates that it has long been seen as a worthy collectible. Note that in real life, the ball is much smaller than it is in these magnified photos. So, too, are the Paint cracks, When the ball is viewed in real life such minor crazing is not noticable.  Really. It should also be noted that the equator fin left by the mold was not trimmed off to perfection.  This tells us that this ball was not produced in a slick or large operation by the best of ball makers.

For sake of reference, golf's original Cock 'O The Green was Alexander M'Keller, the golf addict who's story and single-minded zeal for the game is documented in part in Kay's Portraits published in 1838.Alexander was constantly leaving his wife to run their tavern day and night while he would go golfing for hours on end until the sun went down.  One evening, hoping to embarrass her husband in front of his golfing companions who he had been golfing with all day, she took Alexander's cold dinner to him while he was still out on the course.  Things did not go as planned when she arrived.  Alexander immediately dressed her down with heated words to the effect of "Go home! Can't you see I'm golfing?!"  Passionate, obsessed golfers have always been.

Update 9-8-22  The auctioneer was recently digging through his files and made an important discovery: Lot 23, the Cock O' The Walk composition ball, and lot 75, the red Special Whirlwind gutty ball, were once part of Andrew Forgan’s golf ball collection as documented in the October 3, 1907 issue of Golfing (UK). The first page of the article shows the collection, the 2nd page provides a close up view of some of the balls, all of which bear a label applied by Forgan.

The Cock O’ The Walk ball is mentioned on the first page of the article and there is a picture of this ball on the lower left corner of the 2nd page. This does not appear to be the same ball as the one in this auction, as its label is applied in a slightly different location, but the labels on "both balls" match in every particular—size, shape, even the letters and their spacing are the same. It could also easily be that the paper label came off, so it was reapplied. No matter, there is no doubt that the Cock O’ The Walk in this auction was once part of Andrew Forgan’s collection.

A second ball in this auction—Lot 75, the red Special Whirlwind ball—also bears a matching label. The December 8, 1906 issue, p.4, of the St. Andrews Citizen newspaper includes a mention of Forgan’s ball collection and specifically identifies the “Special Whirlwind“ as one of the balls contained therein. You can also see there are a few red balls (which appear dark in the black and white photocopy image reproduced below) in the collection. There is also no question that this ball was also once part of the Andrew Forgan Collection.  

A third ball in the Desert Mountain Collection—lot 49, the Woodley Flyer—was also part of the Andrew Forgan Collection.  It still has half of its original label, which is marked "Flyer", on the side of the ball. One can see where the "Woodley" portion of the label was once attached to the ball. Given that this ball is missing half of its label, its easy to surmise that the label on the Cock O' The Walk ball came off and was reattached at some point early in its history. Could that be the Woodley Flyer with its small remaining part of its label 3rd from the right in the 8th row from the top?

Photocopy images of these articles are included with the images of both balls.

This ball is front row right in the group image that accompanies this lot.

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