This Hugh Philp long spoon possesses a number of distinct features that indicate the great age of this club.
The most obvious is the knot in the wood on the top of the head directly above the lead backweight. As the game of golf became more popular and the number of clubmakers grew, so did the criteria for acceptable clubs. Clubmakers were more inclined to used clear wood and avoid knots as the 1800s progressed.
The wood used to make the head appears to be fruitwood such as apple or pear. The head is clearly not made out of beach, the most popular wood used to construct clubheads after 1850.
The original sheepskin grip was originally counter-wound with whipping (some of which remains). Counter-wound grip whipping is most often found on featherball clubs. Another early feature is the horn on the sole. In keeping with other featherball clubs, the horn is a bit thicker than what is typically found on clubs made after 1850.
The shaft is hand split hickory and far from symmetrical. This can be easily felt when rotating the grip with one hand while loosely grasping the shaft just below the grip with the other hand. The asymmetry of the shaft quickly becomes apparent. While clubmakers continued to hand split their shafts for many years after 1850, during the gutty ball era more time was taken to finish shafts closer to round, in cross-section, across their entire length, not just down by the head.
The head measures 5 1/2" in length, 1 7/8" in width, and 1 1/32" in face depth. The 42" hickory shaft and sheepskin grip, the neck whipping, and all other components of this club are original. While the "H. Philp" stamp on the crown lacks a great deal in clarity, enough remains to clearly identify this club as made by Hugh Philp.
Overall, this is a great club from the feather-ball era made by the master himself.
One other interesting element that shows the age of this club and the quality of the craftsmanship used to create it has to do with the grip. This sheepskin, which is original to this club, actually has a second imprint of where the whipping originally wound around it. This lighter in color "wrap line" does not match up well when it crosses over from one edge of the sheepskin to the neighboring edge. This clear evidence that the grip was originally installed over a slightly thicker (or built up) underlisting.
The chances are extremely high that the original under listing used on this club was thicker than it is now. The original owner likely decided that he wanted a thinner grip. Therefore this sheepskin would have been reinstalled with new counter-wound whipping over a thinner underlisting. And it was done to perfection.
This Philp long spoon is on the far left in the group image.