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The latest listing from Green Jacket Auctions offers up a rare look into the life and times of one of golf’s great masters: Old Tom Morris. This collection originates from the so-called “Stable Find”, the history of which is described below (courtesy of the auctioneers).

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In the mid-1990’s, 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 1800’s – was personally owned by the legendary Old Tom Morris, and then passed down in the Auchterlonie family 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-1990’s. 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. Upon the untimely death of the American collector, the collection was reunited and has been sitting in a UK safe deposit box ever since.

When discovered, a majority of these photographs were in their original pre-1900’s frames. Most of the frames were recently removed to help protect the photographs from the deteriorating wood and brittle 100+ year old glass.

During Old Tom’s life, these photographs likely decorated the walls of Old Tom Morris’ golf shop next to St. Andrews’ famed 18th green, or even hung in the Morris family home above the shop. Several photos were also discovered in black funeral frames – likely last seeing the light of day when all of St. Andrews mourned the loss of Old Tom in 1908. According to Auchterlonie family lore, many of the photos were put on display in 1911 to “help decorate” the St. Andrews Town Hall during a Ball for local citizens. The Auchterlonie family also allowed some of the photos to be displayed at the Old Tom Morris Golf Shop next to St. Andrews’ 18th green during the 1970 Open Championship.

We are pleased to offer the entirety of the Old Tom Morris Collection as it was discovered in the “Stable Find.” Only 4 relatively insignificant pieces are not included from that historic “Stable Find,” two damaged while in storage and two sold privately. Incredibly, the entire remaining “Stable Find” is offered in individual lots in this auction without reserve. No attempt at restoration has been made to any of the offered photographs.

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I put together a nice gallery for easy viewing. Click on the images to bring them up in a new window and then click them again to enlarge them to their full extent. There’s something lovely about that era before people were asked to smile for photographs. In my mind I picture them all as Daniel Day Lewis’ character from Gangs of New York. I would not want to walk into one of those clubs uninvited! My favorite:

What do you think?

Enjoy.

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