Very Rare Painting of World's Oldest Golf Course Makes £82,250 at Bonhams Edinburgh

8 Dec 2011

Game Played at Musselburgh for over 550 Years

An early 19th century watercolour showing two boys playing golf on the Old Links of Musselburgh, where the game has been played continuously for 550 years, made £85,250 at Bonhams 19th and 20th Century Pictures and Prints sale in Edinburgh on 8 December. It had been estimated at between £20,000-30,000.

The Old Links of Musselburgh six miles east of Edinburgh, is the oldest operational golf course on earth and is one of three contenders for the original ground on which the game of golf began to be played in Scotland, probably in the mid-14th century.

The painting, by William Douglas was executed in 1809 and is among the oldest known depictions of the game. It shows features of the course still seen today. In the middle distance is the great sand bunker, still known as Pandemonium. Also visible is the public house now known as Mrs Forman's, where golfers paused to slake their thirst. Behind the boys are the Prestonpans potteries, the village of Aberlady, the promontory of Kilspindie and Gullane Hill, while in the background the distinctive conical shape of Berwick Law is clearly seen.

Head of Pictures at Bonhams, Scotland, Chris Brickley said, "This picture provides a rare and important insight into the origins of the modern game and I am not surprised that it was so keenly sought after and made such a good price."


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to

  1. Chris Brickley
    22 Queen St
    Edinburgh, United Kingdom EH2 1JX
    Work +44 131 240 2297
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