Ted Hankey’s actual first signature darts! (spoiler: they aren’t DataDart)

It was quite a shock when I saw this set of darts on Marktplaats.nl, the Dutch version of Ebay. At first glance I thought this set of darts was a cheap, undesirable set of brass Hankey darts, but nothing was less true.

When I acquired my set of DataDart Ted Hankey darts some time ago, I thought; this is it. This is the first model of signature Ted Hankey darts there is. Until I found this set of RoyalDarts I was convinced of the fact the DataDart model was the first, but it turns out the RoyalDarts set is the actual first set of Ted Hankey signature darts ever made.

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So why was RoyalDarts the first company to release Ted Hankey signature darts, instead of DataDart?

When you look up RoyalDarts on the internet there isn’t anything useful that confirms the heritage of the brand. Luckily, there is one Dutch article that shares a part of the RoyalDarts story. This is a short resume of the facts that were shared in the article that can be found here;

During the Embassy tournaments in the 90’s Ruud ter Maat, founder of a roofing company, was introduced to Ted Hankey and Ronnie Baxter. At the time, everybody in England was mad about darts. The Dutch only saw darts as a pub game. Darts became popular in the Netherlands when Barney was involved in the latter stages of the Embassy tournaments. Ruud watched the games on TV from home, and was amazed of the fact that darts had such an impact. Ruud new he had to do something with the big interest in darts. He found Ronnie Baxters home address and convinced him to attend to one of Ruud’s trade shows to throw some darts and get people involved on his stand. Later that year, Ruud’s company Altena sponsored several high-ranked dart players like Hankey, Baxter, King, and even contracted George Noble. Ruud didn’t want to get his roofing company Altena mixed up with his promotional activities in darts. This is why he founded the brand ‘RoyalDarts’, which included his sponsoring and promotional activities as well as the business in signature dart sets.

Since the RoyalDarts and DataDart Hankey’s look very similar, I contacted DataDart with the question if they new about the existence of the brand RoyalDarts. This is the reaction I got from Gerry Walters, the owner of DataDart International.

‘’The RoyalDarts signature darts were indeed produced by us, but have been discontinued for a long time now. RoyalDarts was Ted Hankey’s first official materialsponsor. After being with RoyalDarts and after becoming world champion in 2000, Ted moved to the DataDart International brand.’’  

What does the packaging say?

Let’s take a look at the darts themselves, since the printings on the packaging say a lot about the heritage of the darts. The text on the packaging is Dutch, the facts I share are the english translations of the packaging.

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Ted’s obsession for count Dracula started on Hanley High School when he covered the role of count Dracula in a school musical. Since then, he plays darts under the pseudonym ‘’The Count’’.

He started playing county darts in his birthplace Staffordshire but in 1996 he moved to North Wales with his family, where he played for Clwyd.

He was selected for the English team during the 1997 / 1998 season. He fought his way into the Embassy World Professional by winning the Malta open in 1995 / 1996 and 1996 / 1997.

During his first Lakeside performance he was beaten by Colin Monk in the quarter finals. Concerning the checkouts, Ted had the higher average. In 1999 he threw the highest average ever in the first round against Roger Carter from America.

Ted was a part of the English team existing of six dart players that took part in the Five Nations cup. From these players, four dart players were selected that would represent England during the World Cup in South Africa.

In February 1999 Ted won the Dutch Open in Delden, the Netherlands. Together with Matty Chapman he won the Dutch Pairs. In both matches Raymond van Barneveld was beaten in the semi finals.

When we look at the packaging we see all the titles Ted won at the time the darts were produced. Because of this, we can conclude that these darts were produced before Ted won the Embassy World Professional in 2000, since this title isn’t displayed on the packaging. This, and the statement made by Gerry Walters from DataDart International proves that the RoyalDarts Ted Hankey darts are the first signature Ted Hankey darts ever produced, before the DataDart and Winmau models.

RoyalDarts / DataDart comparison

Luckily enough, I own both the RoyalDarts and DataDart Ted Hankey darts. In the following comparison shots you can see the minor differences between these two sets.

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Left: RoyalDarts, Right: DataDart

- Both sets have the same ‘’The Count’’ engraving
- There is a minor difference in the spacing in the ring grip pattern
- The RoyalDarts set has a gold coating in the grooves, the DataDart set doesn’t feature a coating
- The RoyalDarts set has a weight of 18 grams, the DataDart set 19 grams


Like I said, it was quite a shock when I found out about the existence of these darts. With the information I shared with you in this thread, I think we can all say the RoyalDarts Ted Hankey set is the first set of Hankey signature darts that was on the market.

I hope it was an interesting read for all of you, I enjoyed looking up the story behind these darts and I hope you guys appreciate the effort.  

Additional pictures

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Currently throwing: Harrows Wayne Mardle 24 grams

180's in 2018: 14 
180's in 2019: 6 (28-11-2019)
Very nice find

Made my night
Darts: 25g phase 1 Barney copy (Darts Clearance) 
Stems: DC short
Flights: std 75mc
Board: Winmau Blade 5. 

Best 100 at 20 score: 115 (17/10/18)
Current ave: 95

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Blog: https://mydartinglife.blogspot.com

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Nice, I like threads like these, when a fellow dartsnutz finds something for their collection. They sound like they've ended up at the right home, congratulations in scoring a nice find
23g dobey phase 2
Extra short stems
Target no2 flights
Thanks for an interesting read MarcTH  Smile I also have a few sets of older Hankey darts (including a set of Datadarts) but these must be the rarest +1
Absolutely fantastic post. Thanks for sharing
Darts:  Datadart Icon 24g Modified to 22g with three extra rings and shortened to 49mm
Shafts: Mission Nylon medium 
Flights: Mission logo 100 No.2 

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Incredible find. The case looks good too.
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Great find! Smile
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My darts collection:
Flickr Album

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How very exciting for you owning such a fine set of darts. Thanks for sharing and again, well done.
Thanks for all the great reactions guys Smile I'm probably going to take some high-quality pictures with my SLR camera when I have the opportunity and add them to my other Ted Hankey topic, I took the pictures in this topic with my phone.
Currently throwing: Harrows Wayne Mardle 24 grams

180's in 2018: 14 
180's in 2019: 6 (28-11-2019)
A little update here, which isn't entirely related to the Hankey dart, but there also was a Ronnie Baxter RoyalDarts set available back in the days. Presumably this was Ronnie's first signature dart as well. They are available to buy and come from the same seller I got the Hankey RoyalDarts from. The Baxters don't really fit in my collection which is also due to the fact the blister packaging is absolutely huge  Big Grin

Here's a picture of the set, and here's the link to the advert on Marktplaats.nl

If someone wants to get in touch with the seller and has trouble regarding the language, feel free to contact me. I'm happy to help Smile

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Currently throwing: Harrows Wayne Mardle 24 grams

180's in 2018: 14 
180's in 2019: 6 (28-11-2019)
Quality post. Lovely case they came in too. Interesting the evolution of his darts, i'd have always known him as a player who threw smooth barrels but see he started with ringed grip and looks to have gone back to that style nowadays.

Is he still competing or has he retired?
Ayup MarcTH

Great read & nice find, I think the Royal Darts look the better.
I don't think Ted ever threw with either set tho,if I remember correctly ( means nothing) Ted threw with copper tungsten darts not sure on weight!

(01-11-2020, 01:37 AM)Ivefoundgod Wrote: Quality post. Lovely case they came in too. Interesting the evolution of his darts, i'd have always known him as a player who threw smooth barrels but see he started with ringed grip and looks to have gone back to that style nowadays.

Is he still competing or has he retired?

He has said that he's giving the full BDO circuit a go this year - if the BDO doesn't fold after the World Championship.
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It's a shame the BDO is in such bad weather at the moment... I and many others would love to see Ted play darts on the TV stage again. There will however always be a place for amateur darts, whether it is the BDO or the WDF that will pick things up. Let's see how things develop and hope for the best Smile
Currently throwing: Harrows Wayne Mardle 24 grams

180's in 2018: 14 
180's in 2019: 6 (28-11-2019)

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