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Collector pitches in £25k for 18th century golf book

An 18th century golfing book satirising a game played on Leith Links has sold at auction for £25,800 – more than £800 a page.

The Goff: An Heroi-Comical Poem was published in 1743 as the first printed book devoted entirely to the game, with only 32 pages.

Written by Thomas Mathison, an Edinburgh legal writer, it is regarded worldwide as "one of the cornerstones of golfing literature", satirising in verse a game of golf played on the Links.

A rare second edition of the book, dated 1793, went to auction at Bonhams at its Scottish sale in Edinburgh, and was bought by an Aberdeenshire collector.

Simon Roberts, Bonhams' book specialist, said: "The Goff may be a satirical poem but it is a cornerstone of golfing literature. People didn't write textbooks on golf in the 18th century so this book is very significant.

"We know of only three, so this was an extremely rare opportunity for private collectors to get their hands on a copy. Golf collectors are particularly fanatical."

The book refers to leading golfers of the day, better known as the "Caledonian Chiefs" who frequented Leith Links. The players were the founder members of the first ever golf club, the Company of Gentlemen Golfers.

This edition is dedicated to "all the lovers of Goff, in Europe, Asia, Africa and America" and has an addenda in which the "the most celebrated goffers left blank in the first edition" are named.

Mr Roberts said: "These would have been the finest players in the world at that time."

Source: Evening News, Monday, 24th August, 2009