Samuel Ryder’s Putter Up For Auction

A putter that once belonged to Samuel Ryder will be made available for auction on January 26, 2008. Auction house Bonhams expects it to fetch between twenty and thirty thousand pounds ($40,000 – $60,000).

Ryder is best known as the namesake of the Ryder Cup—the biennial competition between European and American professionals. As the story goes, Ryder was watching a 1926 competition between British and American professionals just prior to that year’s Open Championship, and was so impressed that he agreed to sponsor the event.

Ryder made his fortune by selling paper packets of seeds. Prior to this, seeds were available only in bulk quantities that were not useful for small gardeners.  Ryder started buying the bulk seeds and repackaging them in penny paper packets. He and his family worked out of their home, delivering the seeds on Friday in time for the workmen to have for their Saturday day off. He soon grew quite wealthy, and had as many as 90 employees.

When he was in his fifties, Ryder’s failing health prompted his doctor to prescribe outdoor exercise and recommended golf. Skeptical at first, Ryder soon became hooked—even employing a full time professional named Abe Mitchell as his personal coach. Playing several days a week, Ryder lowered his handicap to a 4. He had a reputation as a deadly accurate putter.

Bonham’s calls this an “historically important putter.” It’s a Robert Forgan mallet-shaped putter from c.1910, stamped with the initials ‘SR.’ It’s being sold with a signed letter from Joan Scarfe Ryder’s godson, showing the history of the putter. Joan Scarfe Ryder was Samuel Ryder’s youngest daughter and her godson is the vendor.

Bonhams’ golfing specialist said: “The Ryder Cup is undoubtedly golf’s most exciting event and we are thrilled to be offering the Samuel Ryder’s wooden putter. There will be many Golf Clubs in Europe and the US that have hosted the Ryder Cup interested in acquiring this important piece of golfing history.”

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