In 1856, when Robert Forgan first began making his own clubs, he stamped the top of each head "R. Forgan" in large block letters. In 1863, after he was appointed clubmaker to H.R.H the Prince of Wales, Forgan began to stamp each of his clubs with the Prince of Wales plume directly below his name. The example here has the large letter stamp and the POW plume. These two elements together identify this club as made between 1863 and approximately 1870, when Forgan left his large name behind for a smaller "R. Forgan stamp. The vast bulk of the Forgan long nose clubs made have the smaller stamp. Early large-letter/POW Forgan clubs are hard to come by and exceptionally desirable.
This 44-inch play club looks much like a Hugh Philp club. The head is long and graceful, reminiscent of those made by Philp, and the face measures only 1 inch in depth. The similarities between Philp's work and Forgan's work are not surprising. In 1852 Forgan went to work for Philp and had the opportunity to learn from the master clubmaker. After Philp died in 1856, Forgan took over Philp's business and made clubs under his own name.
This play club has a gently hooked face. It has its original thin shaft with its original sheepskin grip. The finish is original, the horn and lead are original. The neck whipping is original. Because the club was used, however briefly, it suffered two cracks in the top/back of the head. The grain in the face also shows evidence of separating in a few places These imperfections are certainly there, but they are not the end of the world. They are most noticeable if you shine a light directly on them, such as is shown in a couple of the images. In other situations they fade into the background of an otherwise lovely hand-crafted club made over 150 years ago.
Flaws and imperfections aside, there are many things that are good about this club—it is older than most, original, made by one of the greatest clubmakers of the 19 century and still presents well—that one can still own it and enjoy the craftsmanship of the maker as well as the "full experience" of a golf club in the 1800s. If you are looking for a "perfect" example of an 1863-1870 large letter Forgan long nose and money is not an issue, wait until you find it. Otherwise this one will make due and be much easier on the pocketbook.
For more on Robert Forgan and his early long nose clubs, see TCA2 Vol 1, p 70-73.
This club is 2nd from the right in the accompanying group image.