Located in Prestwick, John Gray was one of the first blacksmiths to
mark his name on the irons he made. Once he began to make golf clubs,
Gray quickly became regarded as a cleekmaker of the highest caliber, and
remains so today.
This circa 1880 John Gray cleek, with its entirely hand-forged head, has a great deal of personality. The grain/slag of the wrought iron is clearly visible on both the front and back side of the blade. Drop-forged irons, which included the typical iron made in the 1890s and thereafter—including those marked "hand forged," were not made from pure wrought iron. Instead, they were made from mild forged steel.
Both the face and the back of the blade are distinctly convex top to bottom. This is easily viewed/demonstated by placing a metal edge ruler across either surface. Because the blade is so shallow, as cleeks typically are, the significant degree of radius given to both sides of the blade is not readily noticable.
The sheepskin grip is original, but deteriorated. To hold the grip together, a former owner wound the top and bottom sections of the grip with common string. That seemed to solve the problem—and it actually works well when displaying this club!
The J. Gray stamp on the back of the blade is bold and clear, looking as strong today as it did the day it was struck in place by Gray, himself.
The hickory shaft is original. Because the hosel
measures only 4 inches in length and the shaft only 37 1/2 inches in length, the auctioneer believes this wonderful iron was made for either a junior or lady golfer. Either golfer would find a cleek with a smaller/lighter hosel and shorter than normal length easier to use.
Overall, this is a great iron!
This club is the middle club in the group image that accompanies this lot. For more on John Gray, see The Clubmakers Art 2nd Edition Volume 1 pages 125 and 137. For more on cleeks, see TCA2 V1 p128.