Lot # 9: 1925 Laminated Bamboo Driver Head & Shaft

Starting Bid: $1,000.00

Bids: 1 (Bid History)

Time Left: Auction closed
Lot / Auction Closed

This lot is closed. Bidding is not allowed.

Item was in Auction "Summer 2021",
which ran from 7/7/2021 12:00 PM to
7/24/2021 8:00 PM

In 1948 Wilson introduced "Strata-Bloc" Top-Notch woods with laminated maple clubheads. The catalog that year tells how they tested these new clubheads by leaving them submerged in water for 5 years and by heating them at 212 degrees for 12 hours. In both instances, the heads survived with no apparent changes in shape!  In 1949 MacGregor introduced their Ben Hogan model woods with laminated maple "Speedwood" heads. 

These were big advances in the world of golf clubs. Prior to the late 1940s all wood heads were made from solid, not laminated, pieces of wood. That is except for the laminated "Bamboo" driver offered here.

In 1921 Harry Ivory Jordan applied for a patent to produced a "club head of fabricated or laminated wood commonly called ply-wood.... In making up my clubhead, the layers of wood are arranged with their lateral edges in the playing face of the club and preferably so that the grain in half will be at right angles to the face and half parallel to it. Thus the impact of the ball will come against these compacted edges."

Jordans patent continues: "The grain of alternate layers being at right angles to each other, the playing face is thus made up of alternate strips in which the end of the grain is in this surface and other strips having the grain parallel with the surface.  By arranging the plies or layers as I have described, half of the playing face is made up of wood having the end of the grain in the face and the other half made up of narrow strips with the grain parallel to the face but firmly held by strong water-proof glue between adjacent strips."

The two statements underlined above describe exactly how this head is constructed, with the laminations on the back of the head being set at a 90 degree angle to the laminations on the front of the head. The patent also describes using a special water-proof glue and 1500-2000 pounds of pressure in order to form the heads.

Towards the end of his patent, Jordan notes that "Good hickory such as heads have hitherto been made of is becoming very scarce and the demand for golf clubs is increasing rapidly.  Thus a cheap fabricated material which will do the work as well or better than hickory is of considerable value."

While hickory was never the typical material used to make clubheads, hickory was a wood and wood was the typical material used to make clubheads.  So the cheap fabricated material Jordan resorted to was Bamboo (which technically is a grass).  As shown in the images, the word "Bamboo" is stamped on the top of the head and the porous nature of the bamboo can be easily seen in a number of the laminations.   By 1925 bamboo had already made inroads into the golf world, being used for shafts by a few makers. In keeping with his bamboo clubhead, Jordan used a 43" bamboo shaft constructed from six inner and six outer lengths that have been laminated together as well. 

Jordan also noted in his patent that the density of the wood strips cemented and pressed together would not be uniform, as the grain from one strip to the next would run in opposite directions.  Because of this Jordan calculated, "when the face of the club begins to wear a roughened surface with alternate hard and relatively soft strips such a face will take firmer hold on the ball than a perfectly smooth face where all the layers were of the same degree of hardness."

On December 29, 1925 Jordan received US patent No. 1,567,323 for this in club. As anyone can see, the amount of work it took to create one of these clubheads was far greater than what was required to make a head from a block of wood.

Bottom line: This fabulously creative club is full of history being the first of the millions of laminated woods that would follow years later, AND it is extremely visual.  The only one known to the auctioneer, this Bamboo driver is truly a great find in outstanding original condition top to bottom. 

This club is second from the left in the top row of the group image.

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