In this age of the Internet and with the sports hobby fairly mature as a whole, it’s not often that a piece of sports memorabilia arises that gets collectors and experts practically giggling with delight.
In this case, the excitement surrounds The Golf Auction’s Masters Auction – opening Mar. 26 and ending April 8 – and a virtually nonexistent 1934 Masters badge that will lead off the auction.
“The 1934 ticket is very comparable to some of the great collectibles in the industry, when you think about the difficulty factor,” said Kip Ingle of The Golf Auction, who made no bones about comparing the 1934 badge to the fabled T206 Honus Wagner.
“In the golf world, the ’34 first Masters ticket is established in that similar realm,” Ingle continued. “There are five of these currently known. One is held by the Augusta National, and the four others are in private hands. To date, one has never come to auction. There is a lot of excitement that will be encircling that badge.”
Kenley Matheny of The Golf Auction expects the badge to sell in the $40,000-$50,000 range.
“We’re going to see a very strong price for the ’34 ticket,” Matheny said. “It could be a record for a Master’s badge. It’s going to bring out the ‘big boys’ that need it for their collection.”
Some background to the 1934 Masters provides a little more insight as to the scarcity of badges from the event.
According to Ingle, the 1934 tournament was not known as The Masters, but rather the National Invitational Tournament organized by Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts. With the country mired in the Depression and golf not a widely accepted spectator sport at the time, few people showed up to watch. The curiosity was more with Jones than the professional golfers he was competing against. And those are the ingredients to a scarce item nearly 80 years later.
The Golf Auction will also feature a program from that 1934 tournament, another coveted piece among golf collectors.
Those interested in early badges also have the opportunity to own samples from the 1935 and 1938 Masters.
“In 1935, there was the shot that really put the Masters on the map – Gene Sarazen’s double eagle, and we have one of the tickets for the 1935 event, as well,” Ingle said. “The early ticket badges are extremely treasured in the golf industry, and for us to have three of them consigned from the first five events is extremely rare.”
Bobby Jones collectors will be in heaven regarding this auction. Among the notable Jones items will be a 1929 U.S. Open contestant’s pin, a tournament won by Jones, and some personal correspondence from Jones to staff members regarding Augusta from the 1930s and 1940s, including discount memberships for the Walgreen family of the famous drug store chain. The bonus: Jones signed the letters “Robert T. Jones,” considered a premium signature in the marketplace.
“Any time you have Augusta content with these letters, that’s a plus,” Ingle said. “Also the earlier signatures of Bobby Jones, the ‘Robert T. Jones’ signature, carries a premium in the marketplace, as opposed to his later signatures when he would sign ‘Bobby’ or shorten it down to ‘Bob’ when he encountered health difficulties.”
The sale will also feature a 1931 Emergency Unemployment Relief medal that pictures Jones on the front, and a trophy pitcher dating to 1900 from the Nassau Country Club.
On the autograph front, highlights from the auction include a Masters flag signed by 34 past winners and a signed golf ball collection that numbers 600 balls. Many of the balls are the personal balls of the players and are complete with a nickname or a small drawing from the player.
Those interested in participating in the auction can register at www.thegolfauction.com or by calling (813) 340-6179. Phone and online bids will be accepted.
“This ’34 ticket is really a special item to get out into the industry,” Ingle concluded. “I can’t stress enough the difficulty of this item and how this is the coveted jewel that collectors of golf memorabilia are looking for.
“This ’34 ticket has eluded so many collectors, and it’s No. 1 on their list of collectibles.”