Lot # 3: Robert Forgan Putter

Starting Bid: $1,000.00

Bids: 12 (Bid History)

Time Left: Auction closed
Lot / Auction Closed

This lot is closed. Bidding is not allowed.

Item was in Auction "Fall 2022",
which ran from 11/3/2022 7:00 PM to
11/20/2022 12:20 AM

This is Fabulous Forgan putter!  It's old, beautifully finished, in near mint condition, has the largest head of any Forgan putter known to the auctioneer, and truly elegant in its shape and lines. Furthermore, it is the only Forgan long nose made prior to 1890 known to the auctioneer that does not bear the Prince of Wales plume but has a small "R. Forgan" stamp.  It's here that things start to get really interesting.

In 1863, when Forgan became clubmaker to the Prince of Wales, from then on he marked all his clubs with the Prince of Wales plume and he did so religiously through the remainder of the 19th century. For the first few years after being appointed clubmaker to the Prince of Wales, up until approximately 1870, he continued to use the larger "R/Forgan" stamp that he used when he took over Hugh Pnilp's business in 1856.  So, as can be seen, this club has the small R. Forgan stamp not used until after 1870+/-, yet it lacks the Prince of Wales plume that was installed on all Forgan's clubs made after 1863.  What makes this conundrum even more challenging is this exceptionally large putter head could easily date to 1860 or before, but if the small stamp was not made until 1870, then it would date to 1870 or later.

Robert Forgan made clubs for approximately 45 years, from 1856 to approximately 1890.  The auctioneer was not around for any of those years and does not know exactly how many name stamps Forgan had, and when he might have tried/used them. It's possible that in 1856 he first tried a small stamp but then quickly switched to a large stamp.  Its also possible that Forgan made this putter after 1870 and simply did not mark this putter with a Prince of Wales plume.  Given such a conundrum, the collector is left to the club itself to give us clues about when it was made.  A close look at the club indicates that Forgan made the club early in his career.  Consider the following.

The head appears to be made from a fruit wood like apple or pear.  It is definitely not made from beech, which was the wood typically used by clubmakers making long nose clubs during the 2nd half of the 19th century.  As mentioned earlier, the head is exceptionally large, much like the putters made early in the 19th century.  It measures 5 3/4" in length, 2 3/16" in width, and 1 1/16" in face depth.  The top line and sole line run pretty close to parallel around the entire head.

At the end of the accompany images are three images that show this club paired next to another. The first pairs image shows this club next to a Forgan pre-Prince of Wales long spoon.  It has the large R. Forgan and no plume. Notice the outline of the head as it moves from the toe around to the back. The clubs are close to identical in how they were made.  Also notice the minimal/slight crown given to the top of both heads. Again, they are alike. The fact that these major features (along with a few others) are alike indicate that they were most likely made around the same time. (Note that the dark reddish brown 1856-1863 Forgan long spoon has had its back weight filed out a fair bit, to lighten the swingweight, which is why the weight looks like it does.)

The second pairs image shows this putter next to an 1880s forgan putter. The third pairs image shows this putter next to an 1880s play club.  These two pairs images help provide perspective to the large, bulbous head of this putter. Again, such a large, broad putter head speaks to age. 

Lastly, this club is in absolutely gorgeous original condition. Even the neck whipping, and both the top and bottom of the sheepsking grip have their original whipping as installed in Forgan's shop. there is a small crack back extending out from the lead, and a grain crack in the heel, but both a minor and of no real consequence. 

Here's what the auctioneer thinks is the most likely scenario for this club.  Forgan made it after 1870, hence the small stamp, but he was filling an order for somebody who wanted an old style putter. So Forgan made such a club and went the full route by leaving off the Prince of Wales plume, because the plume would not be found on the earliest Forgan's or any other early putter. Then again, maybe the auctioneer's scenario is wrong. Would not be the first time. 

Bottom line, pinpointing the age of this Forgan is not that big of a deal.  When it was made does not change the fact that this is a Fabulous Club in so many respects!

This Forgan putter is the 5th club from the left in the accompanying group image.

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