As far as gun metal putters go, this one is exceptionally old. Most date to the 1890s or later, but this one dates to the mid 1880s or thereabouts. The head does not bear the mark of its maker, only the mark of Tom Morris, who shafted and sold the club. When compared to a typical 1890s gunmetal putter, the blade on this putter is decidedly thicker and the 4 1/4" hosel length is distinctly longer.
The 36" shaft is stamped "T. Morris, St. Andrews, N.B." (North Britain) in an oval across the shaft, below the grip. The shaft was cracked at some point in its history. The crack has been glued and is now solid. The auctioneer checked the crack by torquing the shaft (there was no movement whatsoever in the crack) and then added three small sections of whipping to obtain the look of an old repair, Calamity Jane style.
The original sheepskin grip is gone missing, but the original underlistings remain. When viewing a small area of damage to the brown listing up near the top of the shaft, one can see a black/white listing below it. This double listing makes for a grip that is plenty big as is, but would have made for an oversize grip when the sheepskin was in place.
This is the oldest Tom Morris blade putter of any kind that the auctioneer has seen. Hence, because of the rarity of this club, the cracked shaft is not a big deal. It gives the club character—like they say, "Chicks dig scars!"