In 1904 James Winton, a well-respected clubmaker in Montrose, Scotland, offered an array of perforated-face water and rake irons designed and patented by James Brown, a blacksmith in Montrose. Deemed the "Heros of the Hazards", Brown designed his irons to help golfers hit shots from water, sand, and high grass. Despite being the most visual of clubs created during the early 20th century, they never really caught on. Some golfers tried them but soon learned the clubs did not work very well. It's in the failed attempts of the most creative clubmaking ideas that some of the greatest golf collectibles are born, which is why all of Brown's perforated face irons are outstanding collectibles.
The James Brown perforated mid iron offered here is among the rarest clubs from Brown's family of water/rake irons. The face on this example has the flower in a circle pattern as shown in the accompanying 1904 advertisement for Brown's array of water/rake irons. There are no other marks or stamps on the head or the shaft. Overall the club is in nice condition. The face shows use, and the flower pattern is faint in places, but no abuse, rust, or excessive wear.
The shaft and sheepskin grip are original. Upon close examination of the shaft, the remains of a minor hairline crack can be seen. The crack rose up out of the hosel in two spots and connected two inches up above the hosel. However, this short hairline crack appears repaired, tight, and of no consequence. When I hold the head solid and torque the shaft to open the crack, it does not move, and in general its hard to see.