Treasure: Golf item is a swing – and a miss

Khristi Zimmeth
Special to The Detroit News

Golf season may be coming to a close as winter approaches, but the season for golf collectibles is year-round. James Lucia was hoping he had discovered a treasure when he picked up a shadow box with vintage-looking golf clubs at a Salvation Army thrift store about 15 years ago.

“The case is about 14” wide, 42” long, about 3” deep,” he explained in the letter asking for an appraisal. “It has three golf clubs and two golf balls. The clubs are all wood. The balls are old golf balls with square dots. A gold metal plate reads “Grand old man of golf old Tom Morris,” in the case with three old photos. I believe Tom Morris is one of the early golfers in Scotland. I do not know anything more about this. Hope you can help.”

He paid somewhere around $25, he told appraiser Jerry Anderson, who looked at the piece recently at DuMouchelles downtown.

According to, Tom Morris was born in St. Andrews, Scotland. “Old Tom Morris didn’t invent the game of golf, but he is recognized as the sport’s founding father. He played in the first 36 British Opens, winning four times, and sired a son, Tom Morris Jr., who won the world’s oldest golf championship four times on his own.” It also says that he played in the Open Championship in 1896 at age 75.

Anderson says determining authenticity is a bit like a solving a mystery, but that the answer to this particular one was pretty obvious. “The first clue that this isn’t authentic or old are the clean black grips on the clubs,” he told Lucia. “If these were old and had been used, there would be wear.” He said they were also made of synthetic material, which wouldn’t have been the case if they were what they were pretending to be. “They are not hickory shafts or vintage grips,” both of which are another clue that they aren’t particularly antique.

“Unfortunately, these are not old, just made to look old,” he told him. “My guess is they were made for a rec room or a basement and could have been something brought back from a trip to Scotland as a souvenir.” The photos are also copies of original photos, something you can tell on closer inspection. “These are basically reproductions of clubs and items Morris would have used in the 1950s.”

He said the $25 Lucia paid was a good price and that the piece would make a conversation piece for golf fans. “It’s still a good deal and would look nice on a wall somewhere if you like it and are interested in golf.” Anderson valued it at $50-$100, adding that he’d only get the higher number “if he was lucky.”

Do you have an object you would like to know more about? Send a photo and description that includes how you acquired the object to: The Detroit News, Trash or Treasure?, 160 W. Fort St., Detroit, MI 48226. Include your name and daytime telephone number. You may also send your photo and description to If chosen you’ll need to bring the items to an appraisal session. Letters are edited for style and clarity. Photos cannot be returned.

About this item

Item: Shadow box

Owner: James Lucia

Appraised by: Jerry Anderson, DuMouchelles

Estimated value: $50-$100