Stamped on the back of the head "W. Wilson, St. Andrews", this lofter is the earliest lofter made by Willie Wilson that the auctioneer has ever seen. This is a great club!
Its 4 3/4" long hosel is the thickest the auctioneer has seen on a W. Wilson lofter. The hosel is so much thicker than the shaft, it makes the head look reshafted. The blade is big and tall at the toe. However, not only is there no evidence of the hosel pin being replaced, there is no evidence of a hosel pin at all. How this hosel looks is how hosels from this period often look when the head has not been reshafted. Furthermore, there is no sign that the original patina on the hosel has
ever been disturbed, and the grip is an attractive old sheepskin original to the
shaft. Having said all of the above, the shaft is a little loose and the auctioneer has not seen a club of this era with an original shaft that was so undersized for the thickness of the hosel. It could be however, that the hosel turned out thicker than any of the shafts Wilson had available, so he made due. No matter, the shaft is old, the grip is old and original to the shaft, and the head is the earliest Willie Wilson lofter known to the auctioneer.
This club was formerly the property of renowned collector Jamie Ortiz-Patino, who displayed this club with his collection at the Vallderamma Golf Club, in Valderrama, Spain. Patino owned this club and sought only the finest in golf antiques. He brought the Ryder Cup to Valderamma in 1997.
Wilson was a highly respected cleekmaker based in St. Andrews. He began making clubs in St. Andrews in the 1860s. In 1903 Harold Hilton wrote that he could "remember the time when an iron made by Wilson, of St. Andrews, was considered a 'pearl beyond price.' " (see TCA2 V1 p138)
Again, this is a fine, hand-wrought iron! It makes a great companion piece when placed alongside long nose clubs from the 1860s or 1870s, as they were contemporaries and used together.
The hand-hammered "The Loud House, Yorkshire," gutta percha ball in the pictures is shown for perspective. It is not included in this lot but is available as lot 4 in this auction.