Stamped "J Crowley, Rd No. 263086" on the top of its head, this 42" driver has a unique neck joint. The British registered design 264086 was issued in 1895, which makes this club one of the earliest to offer a hoped for better neck joint.
The portion of the shaft that extends down into the head is rectangular in shape. The visible portion of the shaft on the back of the neck measures 1/4 of an inch in thickness. At the top of the head, however, the front of the shaft is round. A wood dowel visible in the face helps secure the shaft to the head as does a pin or screw of some sort that extends through now filled-in holes on both sides of the back of the neck.
Early clubmakers calculated that the nature of the neck joint had an effect on whip and torque, or the distance and accuracy imparted to the shot. The degree to which this was true actually didn't really matter. It was impossible to do scientific tests back then that were above and beyond trial and error. Just how well their idea could be sold was all that counted—that and how the club was received by actual golfers. Judging from the fact that the auctioneer has not encountered a fork splice driver covered under this 1895 registered design, it would appear that his club was not well received. Not at all. To golf collectors today, however, poorly received clubs are often among the rarest and most desirable collectibles.
This Crowley driver does not show evidence of a great deal of use. Everything is solid, present, and well accounted for. The grip appears to be original, though it is a little loose.