Lot # 145: c. 1890 George Forrester Rut Niblick

Starting Bid: $100.00

Bids: 11 (Bid History)

Time Left: Auction closed
Lot / Auction Closed

This lot is closed. Bidding is not allowed.

Item was in Auction "Fall 2021",
which ran from 11/4/2021 11:00 AM to
11/21/2021 1:35 AM

As rut niblicks go, this one has a very small head that is both pleasing and fascinating to the eye when adressing the ball. One is left to wonder, how could anybody even hit this club!  Rut niblicks of the 1880s and early 1890s had distinctly larger heads than track irons of earlier years, although rut nbilcks were still compact and served the same basic purpose of playing a ball in a nook or cranny, etc.  But, as I noted, this one is distinctly smaller than normal.

Bearing Forrester's stamp in very small letters, This c. 1890 club with its much smaller than typical head was likely special made for one of Forrester's customers.  Showing beautiful workmanship, the head and 4 1/4" hosel have graceful proportions, so the club looks very natural. The back of the head displays George Forrester's name stamp that includes his location Earlsferry, Elie.    The ball shown in the images is not included with this lot.  It is there to provide perspective, so the compact size of the head is better understood.

The original 37 1/2" shaft in this outstanding club is marked with Forrester's stamp and the owners initials "KBF".  The replacement sueded leather grip matches the club exceptionally well.

According to an article in the Dec 9, 1896 issue of The Golfer, George Forrester (1847-1930) began making clubs for his own use during the mid 1860s while working as an apprentice in the Scottish masonry business. After finishing his apprenticeship, he left for America to work as a stone-cutter.  Once he arrived he wanted to golf, but at that time the game was utterly unknown in North America and there was no place to play.  He eventually left the US and returned to Scotland.

In 1871, Forrester began to trade as a clubmaker for the public even though he was primarily self taught—which is a rarity. Many people predicted that his first year in the business would be his last. "Even in trade processes he was occasionally at fault. The mere matter of staining the heads was still a jealously guarded trade secret, and the same may be said of much else (ibid)."

George Forrester proved to be skilled craftsman who knew what he wanted.  He figured things out, endured, and, over time, clubs made by Forrester of Elie came to be highly regarded. His business grew and he worked as a clubmaker well into the 20th century.

Forrester was also more than a clubmaker.  He served many terms as an Elie Town Councilor, beginning at least by 1881, and he even served as the Provost (mayor) of Elie for three years, beginning in 1899.   

For more on Forrester, see TCA2 v2 p569. For more on rut niblicks, see TCA2 v1 p139.

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