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A celebration of Snead's dominance at Augusta

1949-52-54 Masters Championship Plaque Presented to Sam Snead. The early history of the awards that were given to Masters Champions is not entirely clear. Although it is certain that the awarding of the Green Jacket to the Champion began in 1949 (to Sam Snead) and that the awarding of the miniature Silver Clubhouse began in 1993, some researchers report that in the early years the winners received a plaque as the official "trophy." The best evidence shows that the winners were given the Championship Plaque starting in 1942. There are two versions of this plaque. This offering is the earlier version which was awarded from 1942 until at least 1960. A later version probably first appeared in the early 1960's.

The 2006 book "When War Played Through: Golf During World War II" by John Strege describes a conversation between Byron Nelson and Clifford Roberts that took place during Masters week in 1942, a tournament that Nelson would win in a playoff over Ben Hogan. The following excerpt from the book nails down the origins of Snead's plaque:

O.B. Keeler saw Nelson's victory as possibly preordained. At the beginning of the week, a package had arrived at the club at about the same time Nelson did. The package contained plaques, individually wrapped, each with a name and a year etched onto it. The plaques were to be awarded to each of the past Masters champions.

"Open it up," Clifford Roberts said to Nelson.

Nelson obliged.

"Draw one," Roberts said.

Nelson selected one, unwrapped it, and saw that it had been emblazoned with the name Byron Nelson and the year 1937, representing his Masters victory five years earlier.

"It's an omen," Roberts said elatedly. "If there's anything in hunches, you're going to win this tournament."

Roberts noted that were Nelson to win, the club would only have to add 1942 to the plaque, absolving it from having to spend money on another one.

"I'll show you," Roberts said. "Draw another one."

Nelson unwrapped a second plaque. The name on it was Horton Smith, under which the years 1934 and 1936 were etched.

"See?" Roberts said. "You can't miss. It's your tournament."

Any perceptions of the rarity of such plaques in the modern collecting hobby should not be swayed by the fact that this is the second such model Heritage has had the distinct honor to present, the first being that of 1939 Masters Champion Ralph Guldahl (February 2013 Platinum Night, $22,705). And surely no disrespect of the achievement of Guldahl is to be inferred by the statement that this Snead model, memorializing the three Green Jackets earned at Augusta, is by far the superior artifact.

The stained mahogany based plaque measures 7.5x9.5", holding a 6x8" riveted silver plate with raised fourteen karat gold lettering that reads "Masters Tournament, Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta Georgia, Won By Sam Snead 1949, 1952, 1954." Weight is twenty-six ounces. Original hanging bracket and chain on reverse. Plaque exhibits some surface wear from storage, visible in our catalog imagery, but still presents well. Included is a photograph (modern print) of Snead receiving the plaque from the iconic Bobby Jones, founder of the Augusta National. Letter of provenance from Jack Snead.


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Auction Dates
August, 2013
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 6
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