Sunday, 10 August 2014

Hugh Miller Golf Ball Manufacturer The Professional Golfer June 1924

I thought I knew about my grandfather's early life until I found this article in The Professional Golfer June 1924 Page 4. Just shows you how wrong one's family can be on occasions.

Our readers will have no difficulty in recognising the familiar features of Hugh Miller whose picture appears in this issue. Hugh is rather bashful where autobiography is concerned, but I have managed to extract from him a few particulars concerning his own career which will doubtless interest the "boys".

Hugh is of course a Caledonian.His school days, however were all spent in the U.S.A. These over , he returned to Scotland and entered the firm of his late uncle, Mr. Hugh Miller (Messrs. Miller and Taylor) as an employee. In 1904 Hugh assisted his uncle in experimenting in the manufacture of rubber-cores, and when the firm put their first ball on the market ( The "Reliance") Hugh started to travel among the professionals, covering practically the whole of the British Isles. As time went on the firm decided it would be more convenient if Hugh made his headquarters in London, and he accordingly moved south as their London agent. This was in 1910.

The firm was located at 10 Dyer's Buildings Holborn, and Hugh carried on here until he joined the forces, serving in the Mechanical Transport. On his demobilisation in 1919 he joined Messrs. Miller and Taylor and remained with them until February 1922 when he left the golf trade - as he thought, for good. But three months were as long as he could stay away from the "boys," and in May of the same year he started out in business for himself, from the old address of 10 Dyer's Building which he had taken over.

Many a joke was cracked over his venture in being the pioneer in taking round his goods in a "tin lizzie" and no one enjoyed them more than "the victim", but all good things come to an end, and on selling his business in April to Mr. D.M. Stocks, son of the well known caddie bag maker of Edinburgh, Hugh joined the firm of Messrs. Game-Balls Co.Ltd. of Brentford, Middlesex as golf ball sales Manager.

To use his own words, Hugh is "convinced that his firm has the goods." while we, for our part, wish him every possible fortune in  his new venture. At any rate his heart is in the golf trade: he will be in his element in his new and responsible post and success must come.

It did!  Grand Father Miller knew success and failure. He made and lost three fortunes.  The first loss was when his uncle Hugh Miller who had relied on his nephew running the firm since 1904 died having promised the firm. Instead in 1922 it seems, uncle Hugh left his firm and fortune to Hugh's younger twin sisters Martha and Mary Miller remarking in the will that Hugh Miller was a young man and well able to make his way in the world. My grandfather left with an  inscribed silver plate and nothing else.

The Harlequin Golf Ball of 1924, The Magic Performer from Tee to Green, was manufactured by the Game Balls Co. and cost 2/6. One was sold by Christies in 1996 for £1000.

He made another fortune with the multi coloured golf umbrella which we all know today.

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