In the mid-1990s, one of the most important discoveries in golf memorabilia history was made: Old Tom Morris’ personal golf photographs.
Eric Auchterlonie – of the famed St Andrews golfing family – passed away in his home in Pitscottie, Fife, just outside of St Andrews. On the property grounds, inside an old horse stable and hidden behind two large hessian coal stacks, was one of the most historically significant golf collections in the world. Word of this so-called “Stable Find” quickly spread throughout collecting circles.
The collection – consisting of more than 40 original photographs from the 1800s – was personally owned by Old Tom Morris, and then passed down in the Auchterlonie family, where it remained for almost 90 years.
Upon Old Tom’s death in 1908, the photos were given by the Morris family to his former apprentice (and 1893 Open Champ) Willie Auchterlonie. According to the Auchterlonie family, the photos were then housed at the Auchterlonie’s Golf Shop on Albany Place in St Andrews for more than three decades. They were then relocated to the company’s Union Street location for safekeeping during the air raids of World War II. The collection was then passed down through the Auchterlonie family until its fateful re-discovery in the now-famous “Stable Find” by two prominent golf collectors in the mid-1990s. Those collectors purchased the entirety of the Tom Morris collection from the Auchterlonie family, and split into two – half entering a legendary American collection and the other half remaining in the UK.
Offered here iswidely regarded as one of the most famous early golf photographs, as this 1855 photograph depicts the greatest golfers of the 1850s – Allan Robertson (club on shoulder), Old Tom Morris, Willie Park, Sr., and Willie Dunn, Sr. To put this photo in perspective, cameras didn’t likely arrive to small town Scotland until approximately late 1840s to very early 1850s, and surely only a handful of cameras were ever owned in St Andrews in 1855 (and those would've been only owned by professionals).
Old Tom Morris famously had a falling out with his longtime mentor Allan Robertson, but Old Tom must’ve felt some nostalgia towards his old boss since he appears to have personally kept this photo for decades until his death in 1908.
This original 1850s monochrome image measures 7½” x 5” and is on a modern mat. According to the Auchterlonie family, this photograph was on display in the Tom Morris Golf Shop during the Open Championship in St Andrews in 1970.
*It should be noted that if this photograph looks slightly faded in the center, that is how this famous photograph was taken. It has nothing to do with the quality of the offered photograph, which is excellent.