Robert Davidson of Montrose, Scotland, was a well established clubmaker during the end of the feather ball era and into the gutty ball era.
The August 1, 1844 issue of The Perthshire Advertiser mentions that Davidson, the Montrose clubmaker, was quite busy exporting clubs and balls: "The Scotch games are beginning to spread far and wide over the face of the earth. The other week, when I was at Montrose, Davidson, the club-maker, was busy preparing to export golf clubs and balls to the Mauritius, the Cape of Good Hope, and to Bombay." The Dec 5, 1847 issue of the The Arbroath Guide and Weekly Advertiser stated that Davidson had provided a prize club for a local competition in Montrose and then went on to extol his skills, remarking that "Davidson, clubmaker, [was] decidedly one of the best clubmakers in Scotland."
Davidson is one of the few clubmakers to mark his name on his clubs in script as opposed to block letters. The circa 1860s short spoon offered here does bear a nice, strong script stamp. The shaft, which measures 36" in length and the sheepskin grip are original. So, too, is the finish on the head and the neck whipping.
This club is in outstanding original condition with one minor caveat. Around 40 years ago, spiral whipping was added up the full length of the grip and the head was given a light coat of varnish. This was done by Laurie Auchterlonie who stamped the shaft in tiny letters "Restored by Laurie Auchterlonie." It does not appear that he did anything to the club beyond adding a light coat of varnish to the entire head and spiraling whipping up the grip, which were the two the things he did the most. When Auctherlonie, a former honorary professional of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, sold clubs, which he did a lot, he would charge more if he did restoration work.....so he tweaked the vast bulk of the clubs he sold. Not all were stamped with his name on the shaft. Most often he would inconspicuously mark the club with a straight line next to a crooked or angled line.
Auchterlonie would typically replace the entire grip, but on this club, the grip is original as is witnessed by the fact that it is old sheepskin in marvelous condition, not Auchterlonie's sueded-leather modern replacement. Furthermore, the grip has the owner's initials "A.T.R." written in broad ink near the top. (As a brief aside, you can recognize many of the grips worked on by Auchterlonie by the fact that he would install whipping up the spiraling seam of the grip, between the wraps, like it is on this club. While this looks nice and adds a touch of panache, this is opposite of how the old clubmakers did it. When they wound whipping up the grip, it would be counter-wound, so the whipping would go across the seam and help hold the grip in place.)
The head on this club is a beauty, with great lines, and shows next to no use. It measures 1 1/8" in face depth, 5 5/8 in length, and 2" in width. The sole has 278 written in ink in small letters. This was likely an inventory number from a former collection. Davidson's work today is extremely hard to come by and eminently desirable. This club would make a great addition to any collection.
A group shot that shows many of the long nose clubs in this auction can be seen in the images that accompany this lot. The Davidson club is the fourth from the left.