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Circa 1790 Extraordinarily Rare Massive Bunker Iron....

2011 November 10-11 Vintage Sports Collectibles Signature Auction- Dallas #7041

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Auction Ended On: Nov 11, 2011
Item Activity: 4 Internet/mail/phone bidders
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Location: Heritage Auctions
3500 Maple Avenue
Dallas, TX 75219

Circa 1790 Extraordinarily Rare Massive Bunker Iron. In golf's formative years in Scotland, iron clubs were used only to extract a feathery golf ball from hazardous situations, such as sand pits, heather, gorse, whins, and loose gravelly ground. Generally, iron clubs could easily damage the very expensive leather covered and feather stuffed ball which was in use at that time. However, rough ground could easily destroy the delicate wooden headed scoring clubs which were the preferred playing tools in those days. The solution to the damage dilemma was the Bunker Iron. They were quite heavy and oversized. They were intended to smash through the trouble (sticks, stones, and stubble) and throw the ball back onto the fairway or green. Because they were specially made by a blacksmith, they were quite expensive and few were made in the earliest days of golf. It is for this reason very few remain, with approximately only seventy to seventy-five examples in existence today dating prior to 1830. The majority of these early irons are primarily owned by old Scottish or British golfing clubs, or else reside in golf museums.

The identifying characteristics of these early irons are the following:

The clubs are very heavy, they have a massive hosel which is long and thick, the blade is quite large and concave, often with evidence of blacksmith hammer marks on the face. There is also sawtooth nicking at the top of the hosel which is prominent and sharp. The shaft is thick and bulky, being pinned through the hosel to connect it to the head. The ancient iron being offered here dates to the late 1700's and is in the kind of patinated condition one would expect considering the use it was put through and its age. There is no way to tell how old the shaft is, but one can assume it was replaced several times during the club's playing days up to about 1850. This shaft might be much more recent than that. The grip appears to be a fairly modern replacement (probably twenty or thirty years old) showing excellent workmanship. In collecting early irons, it is the head that counts, and this one is indeed a rarity with a "WOW!" factor that speaks for itself. Lot derives from the Philadelphia Private Golf Museum.

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