This month, we will focus on golf flicker books which prominently feature Bobby Jones. There are four golf related books in the Flicker Series titled simply Golf. The books contain numbers indicating the sequence they were issued in the series. They are:
11a Bobby Jones Drive and Mashie
11b Bobby Jones Brassie and Iron Shots
11c Bobby Jones Out the Rough and Putt
12 Cyril Tolley Drive and Iron Shots
The books were produced by Flicker Productions, Ltd. and were sold by various department and sporting goods stores, most notably Harrods, Ltd. and are copyrighted on the bottom cover as such. Norman Loudon, who later went on to found Shepperton Film Studios was the photographer behind the series. It is difficult to precisely date the books since no dates appear within the books. Flicker books create animation when you flip through them. They contain page after page of Jones or Tolley swinging the club. As you flip through the book, their swing is in motion. We’ve all seen Jones swing the club on old videos and movies. Its amazing that even in these books, his swing is still one of the best, most fluid swings of all time. The books contain two “topics” each since there are images on both the recto and verso of the page (front and back for us mere mortals). Jones is dressed, as was the custom at the time in a long-sleeved white dress shirt and tie with plus fours. He looks as dapper as ever.
All four books are approximately 3 inches by 2 inches and each contains 100 pages. Book 11a Drive and Mashie has a green softbound cover with black lettering. Book 11b Brassie and Iron Shots is brown softcover with black lettering.
Book 11c Out The Rough and Putt is brown softcover with black lettering. Note that the title of the book omits the word “of”, we assume to conserve space on the cover. Jones’ putting stroke is interesting in that his shoulders almost don’t move at all. The stroke is all wrist.
Book 12 Drive and Iron Shots features Cyril and is brown softcover with black lettering. Cyril Tolley was a leading amateur player in the 1920s. He won the British Amateur in 1920 and in 1929 at Royal St. George’s. He also won the French Open in 1924 and 1928. He was defeated by Bobby Jones on the 37th hole of the 1930 British Amateur, the first leg of Jones’ Grand Slam that year. He would go on to become captain of the R & A. During the First World War Tolley was a tank commander and served as a German prisoner-of-war. His home course was Royal Liverpool (Hoylake).
Condition and Variant Copies
The books are quite difficult to obtain in very good condition or better. Since the books were meant to be handled, they are often seen in a dirty condition since a lot of thumbs have generally touched them since the 1930s. Also, the 1½ cm staple is almost always rusted and sometimes the rust has bled onto the soft cover of the book.
The books were also published with variant covers. For example, we have seen copies where the back cover says Army & Navy Stores (London) and others where Christmas Greetings and the words To and From appear. Also, it is not uncommon to find copies where a period bookseller attached their store label to the back. There are also copies that exist that do not include the words Flicker, so the title of the book is Golf Shots by Bobby Jones Brassie and Iron Shots as opposed to Golf/Bobby Jones/”Flicker” No. 11b. Brassie and Iron Shots. All the books, however, are copyrighted by Harrods Ltd.
The Flicker Series
The Flicker Sports Series were published circa 1930s. The books were produced by Flicker Productions Ltd in England located at 113b Earl’s Court Road, London, S.W.5, phone Frobisher 3277. The overall series contains 38 books. Each featured prominent athletes of the era. For example, Sonja Henie is featured in the book on Skating. Books #1-6 feature Cricket, #7-10 Tennis, #11-12 Golf, #13 Lacrosse, #14 Football, #15 Swimming, #16 Hockey, #20 Greyhound Racing, #21 Badminton, #22-24 Skating and #25 Shooting.
An original advertisement for the Bobby Jones flicker books:
There is a reprint edition of all three of the Jones Flicker books, published by Golf Links to the Past. The three reproduction books are pretty much exact copies and come in a black protective case. They attribute the books as being originally published in the 1920s.
Other Flicker Books
Probably the first golf flicker books ever published were done in the 1920s and featured J.H. Taylor. Three different books were produced by the Industrial & Education Film Co. in London. These are quite rare.
Another golf flicker book that was published and is not as well known as the Harrods series was done by Flick A Book, Ltd. in London. Golf Peter Alliss features the Drive and Bunker Shot (20 yard splash). This book is similar in size to the Harrods Series. We are not sure when they were produced since they are not dated.
Another set of flicker books were produced in 1932. They feature other prominent golfers of the era, specifically Johnny Farrell, Tommy Armour and Leo Diegel. These were issued as instruction books and in addition to the still images of the golfers swinging, the bottom of each page offers some tips and instructions. There are six books that are 3” by 2” and each contain between 30-35 pages. They came as a set and were issued with a box. The series was called Sportoscope Animated Instruction and they were published in New York. In addition, the series was also issued with a small book for keeping your scores. The six books are:
Johnny Farrell – The Drive, The Grip, The Putt
Tommy Armour – Long Iron
Leo Diegel – The Niblick, The Approach
These books are so rare, we could find no mention of them in either Murdoch or Donovan and Murdoch. Another flicker book is The Golf Doctor by Olin Dutra, U.S. Open winner in 1934 at Merion. A green softcover flicker book, it is 205 pages and is instructional in nature, with hand drawn illustrations of the golf swing with added text. Our final book is a Ben Hogan flicker book Here’s your Free Golf Lesson, 56 pages, published c1940.