Lot # 34: Oldest Golf Photo - 1840s Salt Paper (Calotype) Photo of J.O. Fairlie

Category: Photographs

Starting Bid: $500.00

Bids: 1 (Bid History)

Time Left: Please Refresh

Offered here is what may be the oldest known golf related photograph. This salted paper (calotype) photograph depicts James Ogilvy Fairlie, one of the most important golf figures of the mid-19th century. Fairlie shocked the golf community in 1851 by luring the biggest name in golf, Tom Morris, away from his hometown of St Andrews to Prestwick. And despite being an aristocrat, Fairlie was a close friend of the lowly caddie Tom Morris. Morris even named one of his sons, JOF, after James Ogilvy Fairlie.

This photograph is an extremely scarce salted paper photo from a calotype negative - one of the earliest forms of photography. No other known golf photographs pre-date this historic piece. In fact, we showed the photo to a well-known photography expert who remarked "original salt paper calotypes are so rare, if that was a photograph of a tree, a photography collector would still pay $4,500 for it."

Well, it's not a photograph of a tree, but a portrait of one of the founding fathers of the golf explosion in Scotland - James Ogilvy Fairlie.

This photograph was also reviewed by the St Andrews University Photographic Collections Department, which stated that "there is very little fading and loss of image detail, which is commonly seen in this process." Indeed, the high quality of this image cannot be overstated. The calotype photography process was highly flawed, which is why it only lasted a few years before being replaced by better methods. So the fact that this photograph has survived in this outstanding condition for approximately 165-170 years is truly extraordinary. The photo measures 6 5/8" x 8 5/8".  Upper left corner of photo has been torn but can be repaired by restoration specialist. *The original letter from St Andrews' Photography Collections Department is currently missing, though a copy of that letter will be provided

This exact photo previously sold for $6,669 in our Winter 2015 Auction.