The first victory at Augusta's premier event1949 Masters Championship Gold Medal Won by Sam Snead. This thirteenth playing of the Masters is considered one of the most historic of the seventy-seven contested to date, both for the establishment of the Green Jacket as the primary Championship award, and for its status as the first of three victories at Augusta for the noble Sam Snead. While course rules dictate that the sport's most coveted garment remains the official property of Augusta and thus almost never made available to the collecting community, Championship medals such as this are not similarly restricted. Do not, however, misinterpret this statement as any suggestion that medals such as this appear with any degree of regularity in the collectibles hobby, as the truth is quite the opposite.
There's a very good reason why the collecting hobby is so rarely blessed with an opportunity at ownership. First of all, there is a great deal of uncertainty over the kinds of awards that were given out in the early years of the Masters Tournament. Even the official Masters website cannot be considered authoritative. Research by our best consultants indicates that no medals were awarded at all until 1951, at which time the winner began receiving a Gold Medal and the runner-up a silver medal. At that time, prior winners were permitted to buy Gold Medals to commemorate their past achievements. Not all of the champions were willing to foot the bill for a Gold Medal. Over the years, the design of the Masters Gold Medal has changed only once. The later version has a sharper strike and edge than the original version and the driveway in front of the clubhouse appears prominently in the later version but not in the earlier version.
Snead's example is the earlier model, and those who refer to the later version represented by Ralph Guldahl's 1939 medal that sold in our February 2013 Platinum Night auction will note the distinction. Since the Masters is the youngest (but perhaps the most coveted) of the four Major Championships, and because the awarding of gold championship medals for the years prior to 1951 cannot be fully ascertained, and because most of the winners are major (rich) stars who have either retained their medals or donated them to museums (Nicklaus, Palmer, Player, Nelson, Woods, etc.), there is really no opportunity for a collector to acquire a Masters Championship Gold Medal. It is said that Craig Wood's 1941 Masters Gold Medal was sold privately for over $100,000 about a decade ago. Certainly few would suggest that Snead's model is not the superior artifact.
This first of three Masters Championships for the great Sam Snead ranks among the most thrilling in the tournament's history for Snead's remarkable weekend surge that saw him claw his way back from five shots down to Lloyd Mangrum at the midway point to post back to back sixty-sevens on Saturday and Sunday to claim the victory by three strokes.
This medal measures 1.75" in diameter and weighs 1.7 ounces. Gold content is stamped at bottom of obverse at "10K." As the photos clearly show, the detail is outstanding and the condition is Near Mint. The front of the medal depicts the famous clubhouse along with the driveway surrounding the Founders Circle. The perimeter reads, "Augusta National Golf Club." Verso features the familiar Augusta National logo (map of the USA with the flag coming out of the State of Georgia), and it reads, "Masters Tournament" and "Sam Snead, Winner, 1949. Letter of provenance from Jack Snead.
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