Marked "Wm. Dunn" on the crown with Dunn's early large stamp, this
38-inch circa 1850 driving putter is an brilliant club! The wonderfully
broad head—measuring 2 1/8" in width, 5 1/2" in length, and just under
1" in face depth—has an elegant profile with terrific lines all around.
The finish is original as is the hand-split hickory shaft, the sheepskin
grip, and all the club's components including the whipping on the neck and thick horn on the sole. The face has a wonderful hook to it
"Wm" in Dunn's stamp on the top of what appears to be a thorn-wood head
is too faint to make out. The "Dunn" part of the stamp is a little
faint itself, but it is relatively easy to see and clearly readable. The
fact that the club is definitely identifiable as made by Willie Dunn is
the key element.
The original shaft in this club is exceptionally thick. Such a stout
shaft is an indication that this putter could have also been used as a
driving putter. Driving putters are like a driver
but with a short stiff shaft, more upright than an
ordinary driver and flatter than an ordinary putter. They are used for
playing long putts and also for driving against a head wind. (See TCA2
82-82). Dunn's putter offered here definitely has the short, stiff
shaft and flat lie, and could easily have been used as either a putter
or a driving club as circumstances warranted.
Willie Dunn is one of golf's most historic figures from the 19th
century. Hailing from Musselburgh, he and his twin brother Jamie were
born in 1824—the same year as Tom Morris and only 5 years after Allan
Robertson. Willie played many a challenge match against the likes of
Morris and Robertson, and like Morris he made clubs.
Dunn worked as the keeper of the green at Blackheath from 1851 to 1864.
From there he moved to the Leith Thistle Club where he was the custodian of
the links. In 1870, he moved to Musselburgh where he set up his
clubmaking business. Dunn passed away in 1878.
Made approximately 170 years ago, this is a great club in outstanding condition. The sports world can have their cardboard rookie cards that were mass produced in recent years and sell for tens of thousands of dollars. The auctioneer sees genuine value—a true work of art—in a golf club made by the hands of a prominent character and one of the best golfers from golfs' early history. To each their own.
This club is on the far left in the group shot in the accompanying images.