It was designed by Robert Higgs in 1904 with three downward teeth on the head, intended to pass through such obstacles more easily.
The Deliverer failed to impress sufficiently, though, and was quickly abandoned, adding collecting rarity value today. The teeth often caught on the ground, twisting the head.
An example offered at Jefferys (16% buyer’s premium) of Lostwithiel, Cornwall, on September 21 was catalogued as ‘by Willie Aveston of Cromer’.
From 1891-1905 Aveston was a professional at Royal Cromer before becoming professional to the Marquis of Northampton at Castle Ashby from 1908-17, teaching the marquis, Princess Victoria and Lord Leicester. The marquis had a private nine-hole course.
Aveston was also a club-maker. According to antiquegolfscotland.com, “the clubs he made were described as ‘a work of art’ and when George V (then Prince of Wales) visited Castle Ashby he ordered Aveston to make him a set”.
Another Higgs Deliverer extant has been noted as produced by Tom Stewart Jr of St Andrews, c.1905. Marked Higgs Deliverer to the distinctive head, it shows Stewart’s ‘clay pipe’ cleekmark (early iron heads were long irons called cleeks. When a cleek maker finished making the iron heads, they stamped their mark).
But it also has a Willie Aveston Cromer inscription – signalling a collaborative effort with Aveston making the hickory shaft and finishing it?
Jefferys’ Deliverer, which had the same Stewart and Aveston markings, delivered a hammer price of £2300 against an estimate of £150-180.
No worms at least
Chorley’s (27% buyer’s premium inc VAT) Country House Sale in Cheltenham included selected contents from Spetchley Park, Worcestershire.
One of the less visually impressive lots carried the alarming condition report ‘wooden box has been infested with rodents and the handles and bindings in the main have been eaten/nibbled’ (but ‘no sign of worm’ at least).
However, this selection of 19th century hickory-shafted golf clubs and a few balls, in an oak case with plaque engraved Robert Berkeley Eq. Junr, Spetchley, Worc. still took £3600 on November 22-23 against an estimate of £150-200. There were 14 clubs and one broken club in total and one had the Prince of Wales plume.
The first tranche of pieces surplus to requirements at Spetchley Park was sold at Sotheby’s in December 2019 (ATG No 2425), raising £3.1m towards restoration planned by the latest generation of Berkeleys to move into the family seat in Worcestershire.
Chorley’s offered another 700 lots in January 2020 (ATG No 2432).