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.