An early Victorian golfing medal

by James Nasmyth, Edinburgh 1839-1840, of shield shaped outline with gilt scrolling leaf and flower head border, with integral suspension loop, the central panel engraved to the obverse 'KINGSBARNS / Golf Club' above two crossed clubs with the motto 'FAR and SURE' within a foliate banner below, the reverse engraved 'Presented by the Bachelors of the Society Gained by Mr William Clark 1840. John Clark 1841.1842', contained within a fitted maroon leather case
7.6cm high including suspension ring, 1.3oz
Estimate £4,000-6,000

Note: This ''gold'' medal for Kingsbarns Golfing Society is one of three early medals known for the society, the other two examples are in the Harry B Wood collection.

All three medals were made by the same firm of Edinburgh goldsmiths who were at the time one of the few makers who specialised in medals among other areas of the trade. The nomenclature as a ''gold'' medal is only due to its nature as first prize and not as the metal of manufacture, solid gold medals of this time are not recorded and the laurel leaf border in gilt or gold would have sufficed to denote first place.

The Kingsbarns Golfing Society''s history is one not well recorded or known, the fullest detailed information is written by Mr. W Dalrymple of Leven, Fife and was printed in ''Golf Illustrated'' 1908, a transcription covering the Society and prizes are printed in part below:

''There is a considerable mystery even in the date of the birth of this venerable Fife golf club, which formally wound up its own affairs and went to sleep so long ago in 1851, before the majority of modern clubs has sprung into being at all. The first minute is dated May 2nd. 1835, but one of August 3rd 1849 points to a belief in a far earlier origin. The earlier of the two medals depicted with this article points to 1823 whilst a minute of the neighbouring Crail Golfing Society of September 4th 1793 speaks of the Kingsbarns as in full life with recognised uniform of its own. The very first minute, May 2nd 1835 corroborates this existence of an already flourishing society, and deals with the probable expense of a silver frame for the "the punch bowl".

On June 1st 1839 another medal is ordered: on May 2nd, 1840 a ''gold'' one is presented by the Bachelors of the Society'' -

This is the earliest record of the existence of the medal offered here, and until this point was thought lost.

''On December 10th 1844 we find that a terrible catastrophe has befallen these hapless golfers: Duncan the tenant farmer has carried out his threat of ploughing up the links, but the society, with the providential aid of the trustees and the Cambo estate seem to have been able to pull through somehow.

But the end is approaching all too swiftly. Their trusted secretary of 32 years resigns in 1846, and by August 3rd 1849, it is formally decided to suspend operations of the Society. The following is not without pathos "in retracing the past, none can fail to bear upon their remembrance the many happy meetings that have been held, only one of the original members has his name remaining on the roll - The Chaplain. Many of its members have passed the Bourne "where [sic]" no traveller returned. Much kindly intercourse has been maintained and not a few deeds of charity done.

In case of its revival at any future time under more favourable auspices, it was resolved that the meetings forthwith be adjourned sine die, that the box containing the records and medals (which shall be called in from the different holders) remain in the house of Captain Corstorphine of Pittourie at Kingsbarns, and that a committee be appointed to inspect the books, ascertain the state of the debts, and notify the different members the sums due by each, and the persons to whom they are indebted.

Sold for £20,400 (buyer's premium included)