British photographic history

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Anyone for a round of 19th century golf?

Discovered in the early 1990s and dating back to the mid 1850's, this rare collection of Tom Morris-owned photographs is going on display for the first time. Known as the “golfing version of Tutankhamen’s Tomb”, this rare collection of 24 images - valued at around £350,000 - were discovered gathering dust in a St Andrews home by two collectors. Owned by Old Tom himself, they include personal photos of him and his family along with images of early Open champions like Willie Park, Andrew Strath and perhaps the greatest of them all - 'Young' Tom Morris.

It comes with a great story as reported in the Scotsman. They were discovered 'by chance' in the early 1990s after the original owner phoned a well-known English golf collector about selling a bag full of old hickory clubs. What seemed to be a wasted trip of rusty clubs and of little value, the owner then headed down the garden, pulled open the wooden door which hadn’t been opened for decades and in one corner they found a group of framed photos piled one on top of each other.

The first image was a head and shoulders portrait of Old Tom himself. Asked how she came to own them, she said that they belonged to Old Tom Morris and were passed down to her family after he died in 1908. Some of the photos were still in the black funeral frames they had been placed in after his death.

The rest they say is history, and you can read it here. Details of the exhibition can be found here.

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