Practice Parlor PuttersBy

Practice Parlor Putters

One of the more interesting golf-related collectibles is a floor stand used to practice putting. Depending on make and condition, an original parlor putter can cost $800-$1500; original putters add $150-250 each. Due to the scarcity and high price of authentic pieces, several reproductions have been made to meet the demand. Originals date from the first quarter of the 20th century. They were made in brass and cast iron with painted details. Paint can be restored and repaired so it is best to look at the construction to determine age.

One of the best places to look is at the holes in the top cross piece which holds the putters (Fig. 5). Original putters that fit the practice stand had painted grips and were consequently much smaller in diameter than real putters with wrapped grips. Holes in originals stands are only 7/8" maximum. The reproductions, made for full sized modern wrapped grips, measure 1" plus in diameter.

Another key feature hard to duplicate in reproductions is the center support or pole. In original stands, this piece shows a lacy filigree pattern (Figs. 10 & 11) molded into vertical panels. The same piece in reproductions is much plainer and simpler; in most cases it is copied from an ordinary lamp part.

Also check for ball returns in the bottoms (Fig. 8). It is highly unusual for all the returns to be missing from an original. Most, but not all reproductions, are missing the returns. Don't be misled by dates or other molded-in markings. These marks are copied when new molds are made from genuinely old pieces and are then duplicated in the reproductions.

Special thanks to William Reed, a member of the Golf Collectors Society, for making these examples available.

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Fig. 1 Original putter to original stand in Fig. 4.

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Fig. 2 (New)

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Fig. 3 (New)

Two new versions of the parlor putter. Fig. 2, painted cast iron;
Fig. 3, polished brass. Each about $500 retail.

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Fig. 4 (Old) Original Wellington Stone Co. practice putting stand.

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Fig. 5 The holes in the cross bar that hold the putters on the reproduction stands are 1"+ in diameter (white arrows). Similar holes in original stands are only 7/8" maximum.

Holes for putter handles

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Fig. 6

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Fig. 7

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Fig. 8 Bottom view of new base. The majority of new putting stands do not have ball return ramps. A few new stands, however, like the one in Fig. 2, do have ball returns.

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Fig. 9 All old putting stands have ball return ramps. It is highly unusual to find an original putting stand without any of its return ramps. Old returns show natural wear.

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Fig. 10

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Fig. 11

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Fig. 12

Figs 10-12. The center pole in old stands has a distinctive molded filigree pattern, (Figs. 11-12). Poles in new stands are adapted from modern lamp parts like the simple spiral shown in Fig. 10.

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Fig. 13 Don't rely on markings such as "Pat Applied For" or company names or dates. Original markings are picked up in new molds cast from originals. Reproductions made in the new molds will carry those old markings which may include dates, patent numbers, etc.