Smith-neck anti-shank irons were popular clubs and made by various makers. The club offered here is stamped "GF Smith's Patent" in an oval as well as "R. Forgan Maker, St.Andrews" with the King's crown cleekmark. "Mitchel & Co, Manchester," which is also stamped on the head, was the retailer who sold the club. Mitchel likely ordered if from Forgan. The shaft is also stamped "R. Forgan & Son, St. Andrews."
According to the auctioneer's research, George Francis Smith never actually received a patent for a golf club. He only applied for one patent during his life, on Oct. 27, 1897, and it is not known what that patent application covered. Smith, however, was not the only clubmaker to claim a patent for a club design when, in fact, the process was never completed.
According to a review of his club in the April 1903 issue of Golf (ny), to create his anti shank iron Smith bent back the lower half of the hosel and attached it to the top of the blade while keeping the top half of the hosel aligned with the leading edge. He placed weight behind both the heel and toe, to better balance the club and to "counteract any inaccuracy in striking with either of these portions of the club." This heel and toe weighting is obvious when one views the back of the head. The back is dramatically curved. It is at its thickest behind the heel and toe and its thinnest behind the middle of the face.
In Golf's long history, George Smith was one of the first people—if not the first—to explore heel and toe weighting. The auctioneer does not know of anybody who did so before him. The 35 1/2" shaft is original as is the leather wrap grip which is missing a small piece roughly the size of a quarter. Not only is this a historic club of sorts, it really strikes a pose!
This club is shown at the top in the accompanying group picture. For more info, see TCA2 V1 p 191.