Our shops are open and we are processing online, telephone and email orders as normal


Commonplace book containing documents relating to cruises on the China Station and elsewhere.

1890-1906 Stock Code: 117485
Reserve Ask us a question


A naval officer's commonplace book from the last years of the 19th century containing rare ephemera, notably two printed documents of 1897 relating to the Hakodate Golf Club. These both predate the accepted date for the foundation of the "first golf club in Japan", at Kobe in 1901. Hakodate, on the northern island of Hokkaido, was the first Japanese port opened to foreign trade following the signing of the Convention of Kanagawa in 1854, and became a significant harbour on the China Station.

Received wisdom has it that the history of golf in Japan "can be traced to Ryoichiro Arai, a Japanese businessman in the silk trade, who travelled to the United States and first played golf in 1900 at the Northfield Links, which later became the Atlantic City Golf Club. During his travels back and forth to Japan, he brought word of the game to his native country, especially after he was given his own set of golf clubs in 1902 by Andrew Carnegie, after they met at Pinehurst North Carolina" (Mallon & Jerris, Historical Dictionary of Golf, 2011, p. 158). The club regularly cited as being the first in Japan was established at Kobe by the British tea trader Arthur Hesketh Groom (1846-1918), who built a summer house near the summit of Mount Rokko, located between Kobe and Osaka. "Groom's involvement with Rokko-san didn't end with his weekend getaways. In 1898 he and a group of like-minded mountaineers perhaps motivated by the establishment of the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club a few years earlier, set about to build a few links on leased land not far from his cottage. After three years of clearing rocks and underbrush without the benefit of modern equipment, by the fall of 1901 they had completed their first four holes. Word soon spread, and the growing number of golfers prompted the addition of five holes and the official establishment of the Kobe Golf Club on February 27, 1903, with Groom serving as Honorary Secretary" (Kobe Golf Club online, retrieved 17.08.18).

The two pieces here are both headed "Hakodate Golf Club", they are "Rules for Golf Competition, to be played off on Saturday, 4th Sept., and following days" - this is dated "3.9.97" and gives a print run of 30 copies; the other (dated 15 September 1897) gives details of a "meeting of the Committee held on board HMS Immortalité, on 12th September, 1897, Captain Chichester in the Chair, the principal matter under consideration was whether the Golf Club could assist the Polo Club by giving up a portion of the links for Polo" - showing that the club was already established by 1897 - and going on "The place that had lately been used for Polo, and which had been suggested as a site for links, although easy to get at for horsemen, is difficult for persons walking, or rickshaws The accounts of the Club were also placed before the Committee, and it was found that after the payment of all expenses, viz: buying grass cutting tools, &c, wages to green keeper, and a present to the owner of the ground, a balance of 15dols. Hong Kong remained A Vote of thanks was tendered to Captain Trotman for the great trouble taken by him in getting the links in working order". Both of these are signed J. A. Keys as honorary secretary.

The collection apparently assembled by Lieutenant-Commander Cyril T. H. White RN (b. 1888), the album retains a card signed "Cyril T. H. White, Royal Navy". White served on HMS Fauvette, Mediterranean Fleet, in 1915, and as lieutenant on HMS Irresistible. He was a keen philatelist, elected a member of the Royal Philatelic Society in 1917 (see The London Philatelist, vol. XXVI), and clearly had an interest in naval ephemera. The contents can be divided into two groups, printed ephemera and manuscript, of which a more detailed list is available on request. A highly engaging, multifarious assemblage, including material that rewrites the story of golf in Japan, a country that now boasts the second highest number of golf courses (second only to the United States) and around 10 million people playing the game.

Confused? Read our glossary


Quarto (330 x 197 mm). The text block of a late nineteenth-century commercial ledger book recently rebound in mid-brown quarter sheep, dark green morocco label, dark blue cloth sides, marbled edges.


Approx. 140 leaves, containing a range of ephemeral material, some remarkable shipboard printings, a number of quite well-finished watercolours of the Mediterranean, China and Japan.


With the exception of framed items*, Peter Harrington offers free delivery on all UK orders of rare books, maps and prints placed through this website. Delivery to USA and the rest of the world is similarly free for orders over £200.

View Full Delivery Details



Established in 1969, Peter Harrington is one of the leading rare book firms in the world. It is a proud member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association – along with ILAB, the PBFA and Lapada – and from shops in Mayfair and Chelsea, London, sells rare books, prints and ephemera to customers across the world.

Email: mail@peterharrington.co.uk

Tel: +44 (0)20 7591 0220

ABA Antiquarian Bookseller Association ILAB International League of Antiquarian Booksellers LAPADA The Association of Art and Anatique Dealers PBFA Provincial Booksellers Fairs Association

Our Guarantee Page

Ask us a question


Contact us with details of the book you are interested in or selling and we will contact you

Sell Old Books Help me find a book