Lot # 3: James Braid's 1897 Blockhead Putter

Starting Bid: $1,000.00

Bids: 3 (Bid History)

Time Left: Auction closed
Lot / Auction Closed

This lot is closed. Bidding is not allowed.

Item was in Auction "Spring 2022",
which ran from 3/3/2022 12:00 PM to
3/19/2022 8:00 PM

This unique rectangular block head putter was offered by JEGA three years ago. At the time, because the shaft was stamped "R. Forgan and Son"and the shaft and head were similar in color, though made from two different types of wood, the auctioneer credited the club as being made by Robert Forgan. It's true that makers would often stamp their shafts—and the color of the entire club seemed to match. But then again, sometimes a shaft maker would sell stamped shafts for others to use.

Since that description was written, more information has come to light.  Specifically, the auctioneer has uncovered a copy of The Spalding Museum's Three Centuries of Golf which includes subsections on The Story of Golf &  Catalog of Exhibits & Illustrations published by Dundee Museums & Art Galleries in 1968, three years after the Spalding Golf Museum opened in Dundee, Scotland.  Inside this small booklet an image shows what appears to be this very club or its brother.  In describing this club, the caption reads  "Wooden Headed putter, 1897, made by James Braid."  (A copy of the page is included in the accompanying images.) Braid was a five time British Open Champ and that gives this club a whole new perspective. 

The evidence now indicates that Braid made this club and then either had Forgan shaft the head or simply used a shaft supplied by Forgan and did the work himself. Of course, it is possible that Braid had the idea for this putter, went to Forgan and Forgan made the club(s) for Braid. Even so, the club would have been delivered to Braid for his use.

No other example of this putter is known to the author. No other example has appeared in any auctions except the auction in England approximately 10 years ago where this this very putter surfaced, long after the museum was closed and its clubs were scattered.

This imposing head measures 5 1/2 inches in length, 2 1/4 inches in width, and 1 1/2 inches in face depth.  The club can be used right- and left-handed as well as shuffleboard style.  Only the RH face, however, is scored with very fine cross-hatching. The rear corner of the sole is slightly worn, but otherwise the clubhead is in magnificent condition!

The original sheepskin grip is missing it top inch and bottom two or so inches, though some of the underlisting remains in these areas. The tip of the shaft uses a wood piece that is wedged in the center of the shaft to help expand the tip of the shaft and thereby provide a tight fit. This is very similar to the treatment given to the tip of the shaft of the Anderson crescent irons patented in 1892.

With a clear connection to James Braid as the maker and it's inherent rarity, this club is far more than an unusual putter.

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