In April of 1989, the auctioneer attended a Richard Oliver Golf Auction in Maine. This was the second Oliver golf auction and there were some great items offered. One item, lot 272, was offered as an extremely rare punch face mid iron with "a very thin metal flange attached to the bottom of the club by two round metal dowels."
The club in lot 272 was actually covered under a 1913 British patent issued to Louis Rose (see TCA2 v1 p321). But nobody in the room knew that at the time.
Lot 272 was estimated at $1500-$2000 and sold for the
hammer price of $2250 (not counting the buyers premium). That was the
only Rose's flanged iron known to the auctioneer until the mid 1990, when
he spotted two more on display during a visit to the James River Golf
Museum in Virgina Beach, Virginia. Since the visit to James River, the
auctioneer has not seen or heard of any additional such irons until now.
Offered here is the fourth example of Rose's flange iron known to the auctioneer. The distinctly large, flat, and thin flange matches those on the other three. The perimeter of the flange on each of these irons is beautifully executed and constructed as a match to each individual head. Like with Lot 272, this head has a "metal dowel" or pin under the heel of the blade as shown in a couple of the attached images. The metal pin on the toe of this iron is not visible due to the the light oxidation covering it.
In addition to using pins to attach to the head, the flange on this club was brazed to the bottom of the head using
brass. Brass can be seen low on the toe of the face, on the back of the blade, and on the top of
the flange right behind the blade. There also
appears to be soldering along the back of the blade where it connect to the
flange, included to strengthen the connection between
the soleplate and blade.
The fact that pins were used on the other irons to attach the plate to the head, we know the plate and head were first made as two separate pieces. Rose's patent acknowledges this when it states, "The sole may be attached to existing clubs in any suitable way." So to strengthen this connection, the head and plate were brazing and soldered, not just pinned. Because the flange was made separate from the head, golfer's could have a flange installed on any iron they desired. Hence this flange is on a Fairlie's anti-shank iron.
It should be noted that cleekmakers did not usually braze or solder when making
their irons. Such work is typically the territory of aftermarket
alterations. But in this instance, do not let the remaining evidence of brazing/soldering fool you. Not only does this flange match the style, thickness, and material used on the flanges on the three other Rose irons, both this iron head and flange have the
same patina, the same pitting, wear, and color—and no sign of
after-market grinding, sanding or smoothing. The perimeters of their flanges even wear the same. Clearly, this soleplate has
been with this clubhead through virtually all of its life. In short, this iron is an honest example of a highly visual and exceedingly rare 1913 Rose patent flanged-iron.
There were a few wood-shafted flanged irons made in the 1890s and
shortly thereafter, such as those by William Ballingall, George
Forrester, Francis Brewster, and Reginald Brougham (see TCA2 v1
p321-324, 326). Those clubs were also short lived.