This circa 1890 Thorton driver is a wonderful example of a transitional play club. The head is much longer than the typical bulger driver but is not as long as a true long nose. Transitional clubs were made during the end of the long nose era and beginning of the bulger era. They were the link between the long nose clubs and the bulger woods.
The gutty ball was hard on clubs, so the transitional club, as compared to a true long nose, had a slightly thicker neck and shorter head. This beefed-up the clubhead a little and helped make it more durable. Of course the bulger went even further in condensing the size of the clubhead.
The crown on this c. 1890 driver is stamped "Thornton" in large letters and what appears to be " T. Robinson" in small letters. Thornton & Co of Edinburgh was the maker and Robinson was the owner. The 45" original shaft is stamped "Thornton, Edinburgh" in an oval, although some of the letters are faint. The sheepskin grip is original. There is whipping a ways up on the shaft, likely due to a slight crack although whipping was sometimes used to stiffen a shaft. The shaft feels solid, however, and there is no evidence of a crack exists outside of the whipping. The image of the sole included with this lot shows a chip in the heel of the horn. In real life, the horn presents well. It shows age and wear but it still looks good.
Thornton was primarily known as a ballmaker during the 1890s, but, as this lot demonstrates, they also offered clubs as well.