Though he lived a long and prosperous life, passing in 1908 at the ripe old age of 86, only a small number of letters from Old Tom Morris exist. Tom Morris was not quite illiterate, as some have suggested; rather, he was simply not proficient with the pen, and did not know the first thing about correct spelling. According to Tom Morris biographer Peter Crabtree, Morris is only known to have written one letter entirely in his own hand - his resignation letter to Prestwick, when he made his triumphant return to St Andrews. On other occasions when a letter was required, the text would be written by his son JOF, and then Tom would finish the note with his famous signature.
This is one of those letters. The letter is remarkable in every conceivable way. It is written on Tom Morris' personal St Andrews stationary. The bulk of the handwriting, in exquisite penmanship, is by JOF Morris. The letter is then completed with Tom Morris' own signature.
This letter was sent by Tom Morris to the Earl of Aberdeen, who had enlisted Tom to design a golf course on his estate. The Earl apparently sent Tom money to pay Tom's travel expenses to see the now-completed Tom Morris-designed golf course at Tarland. The Earl's private golf course later became public, and still exists today as Tarland Golf Club.
The letter is in extraordinary condition, as is Old Tom's signature. Few Old Tom Morris letters on his personal letterhead are known to exist. The letter measures 5 1/2" x 8".