Travel & Leisure Golf Magazine reported about how Jeffery B. Ellis painstakingly built a 780-piece collection of antique golf clubs. His collection is reputed to be the most wide-ranging in the world.  He sold all of the clubs through Sotheby’s on September 26 – 27, 2007 for an estimated total value of over $4 million.  

Ellis’ passion for collecting not only contributed to his life’s work in buying and selling clubs, but also in the production of a fine, scholarly, two-volume published work spanning over 20 years. The book set includes clubs such as a 1600-era iron, a Dickson putter, and an opposing face duplex wood. The work is entitled The Clubmaker’s Art and is available through Amazon

The point is, that you too can build a sizable, impressive, and highly valuable estate through a detailed, focused, one-or-two item concentration. Ellis’ undying passion for golf clubs put him in a very pretty place indeed as he positioned his specialized collection for auction. The trick to collecting is to find something different, something unique, something relatively portable, something difficult to locate, and then to set about extending a concentrated, long-term effort to become a pre-eminent authority. Especially if you have an advanced jump on collecting through items that may have been passed down through generations, items you know are living in Aunt Em’s attic, or odd items in your family that no one else seems to have an interest in. 

Collecting is a futures investment of sorts, and one you may occasionally wonder whether will ever pay off. The success of Ellis though, is partially due to his detailed chronology, collecting, and yes, we’ll even go to “curating” work. For this type of legacy building, you are going to need records. Records of where you purchased, when purchased, how purchased, any particular provenance, and evidence of historic significance.

Experience proves that this type of detailed record keeping is not for the faint of heart. You have to consider whether you are a surface swimmer type collector (lots of unusual things slightly related at the surface level) or a deep-water diver collector (one or two items fully sought after). Don’t despair. It is reported one of the first hickories that caught Ellis’ eye back in 1974 was found at a Milwaukee Goodwill Store. Ellis’ story is a fascinating testament to developing the long view and exhibiting patience in all that we do.  Let’s go golfing!