A 1949 autographed Masters photo has just set the record for highest price attained by a signed golf collectible according to Heritage Auctions.
The 1949 picture that sold for $31,070 was essentially a "get well card" for Ben Hogan from the participants in the Masters that year. Two months earlier, Hogan got into an accident with a Greyhound bus on a fog-shrouded bridge east of Van Horn, Texas.
The gallant Hogan had thrown his body across his wife Valerie's in the passenger seat in order to protect her, escaping certain death as the steering column impaled the driver's seat. Hogan suffered a double-fracture of the pelvis, a broken collarbone and left ankle, a chipped rib and serious blood clots. Doctors didn't know if Hogan would ever walk again.
Days after leaving the hospital, Hogan received a shipment from Augusta, Georgia containing a remarkable gift-- a framed 15x19" photograph (matted and framed to 25x26") of all Masters competitors, including former champions and various other colleagues posed on a rolling fairway with the gallery behind them. Written beneath the photo are the following words of encouragement:
"To Our Friend Ben Hogan,
On the eve of the 1949 Masters Tournament we send you heartfelt good wishes for a speedy and complete recovery. In the above photograph you will notice a silver humidor which Bowman, Leven and Tom have in their care. We take this means of letting you know that our signatures are to be engraved on it and the humidor will then be delivered to you in affectionate appreciation of what you have meant to us and to the Masters Tournament."
There were 97 autographs filling the wide lower border formed by the matting, an outrageous assortment of Masters Champions past, present and future, and various other legends of the game. Fifty-one of the fifty-three participants in this 1949 tournament are present, and eleven Masters winners representing every champion since the event's inception except for Ralph Guldahl, who did not participate in the 1949 contest. Among the names:
Master's winners: Horton Smith, Gene Sarazen, Byron Nelson, Henry Picard, Jimmy Demaret, Craig Wood, Herman Keiser, Claude Harmon, Sam Snead, Cary Middlecoff.
1949 participants (excluding those already listed above): Johnny Bulla, Lloyd Mangrum, Johnny Palmer, Jim Turnesa, Lew Worsham, Joe Kirkwood, Jr., Clayton Heafner, Herman Keiser, Herman Barron, Leland Gibson, Bobby Lock, Charlie Coe, John Dawson, Jim Ferrier, Frank Stranahan, Pete Cooper, Bob Hamilton, Dutch Harrison, Lawson Little, Tony Penna, Fred Haas, Skip Alexander, George Fazio, Dick Metz, Skee Riegel, Art Bell, Billy Burke, Vic Ghezzi, Ellsworth Vines, Johnny Revolta, Harry Todd, George Schneiter, Al Smith, Herschel Spears, Fred Mosely, Denny Shute, Ed Furgol, Otto Greiner, Gene Dahlbender, Jr., Dick Chapman, Mike Turnesa, Bob Sweeny.
Other notables: Bob Jones, his father Robert P. Jones and Masters chairman Cliff Roberts, Bobby Locke.
Old autographed Masters photos are rare enough but this was a remarkable piece of historic golf memorabilia that someone is no doubt very happy to have won.