Gossip dating back over 140 years caused a stir again on Saturday 27th January 2007 when a very rare copy of one of the most important books on early golf sold at Bonhams in Chester for £9,165, over three times the pre-sale estimate.
This signed first edition copy of ‘Golfer (George Robb): Historical Gossip about Golf and Golfers’, dated 1863 was the first anthology to be written on the sport. The book, which was presented in a lined clamshell box, sold to a European private collector.
Rare and desirable first editions regularly feature in Bonhams’ Golfing Memorabilia sales and often fetch huge prices. Another example in this sale was ‘The Golfer’s Handbook’ which made four times its estimate. Selling for £6,815. This book was so popular when it came out in 1881 that it was re-printed numerous times, changing its name by 1897 to ‘The Golfer’s Manual’. Offering a comprehensive history of the game, hints to beginners, feats of champion golfers and lists of leading clubs and their office-bearers, the book was a must-have for all who professed to have an interest in the sport. This very rare first edition is thought to be one of only three copies to have been sold in the past 25 years.
A box of books containing this rare find had been given to an elderly Scottish couple as a gift. They took the book to a Bonhams’ valuation day in Edinburgh, having no idea of its value, and were delighted with the price realised in Saturday’s sale.
Other highlights in the Bonhams’ Golfing Memorabilia sale included:
- A painting of Tiger Woods by Craig Campbell, titled ‘Winning The Masters in 2005’ made top price, realising £12,925 against the pre-sale estimate of £7,000 – 9,000.
- A set of 12 golf balls that would have sold for 10p each when new made a staggering £7,520. The set of Haskell bramble patterned balls, dating from c 1900, were presented in unused condition in loose paper wrappings in the original red B.F.Goodrich box.
- A 100-year-old gutta percha golf ball found last year in a bed of rushes by the beach at St Andrews sold for £517.
- A rare copy of ‘Reminiscences of Golf on St. Andrews Links’ by Robert Balfour, dated 1887, sold for double its estimate at £3,408.