A collection of golf clubs designed and built by an eccentric Birmingham inventor and arms producer are expected to fetch thousands at auction tomorrow.
The eight antique clubs were designed by Sir William Mills, who owned Mills Munitions, based in Birmingham, which made 75 million hand grenades during the First World War and earned Sir William a knighthood.
The collection includes the lethal-looking "mallet head putter", which is shaped like a croquet mallet. Only five were ever made, and the mallet head – made in 1904 - is expected to bring in more than #1,000 alone.
Factory owner Sir William – who lived in Church Road, Edgbaston, until his death in 1932 – was a member of the illustrious Moseley Golf Club, which was formed in 1892.
A fellow member was William Tolkien, uncle of the Lord of the Rings author and a founder member of the club. Tolkien won the club's first-ever tournament with a score of 112.
Sir William, who was born in Sunderland and left school at 14, was one of the few Moseley golfers to design and make his own clubs. He set up business as an engineer in Sunderland in 1885, making dozens of inventions for the shipbuilding business.
But he saw an opportunity in metals, and soon set up aluminium factories in Birmingham and Sunderland making parts for the new car and aircraft industries
In 1915 he opened the Mills Munitions works in Birmingham to make the hand grenade for which his name is best known and which was used in enormous quantities by the British and their allies during the First World War. He was knighted by King George V in 1922 for his services to the war effort.
The Mills plant was a hotbed of invention, and took out the first British patent on windscreen wipers in 1921.
Sir William was also known for his inventions, including the golf clubs and a patented leather folding seat. He marketed his golf clubs under the Standard Golf Company trade name.
The success of Mills Munitions made Sir William so wealthy he bought himself a luxury holiday home in Cap Ferrat, in the south of France.
When he died in Weston-super-Mare in 1932, he left #37,829 eleven shillings and ninepence in his will – millions of pounds in modern money.
Away from his day job making hand grenades, Sir William collected antique Royal Worcester porcelain, pictures and furniture.
His golf clubs are being sold as part of a huge collection of more than 600 antique clubs, expected to raise more than #1 million when they go under the hammer.
The eight clubs made by the Birmingham inventor are expected to fetch around #4,500 in the auction at Sotheby's in New York tomorrow. American golf enthusiast Jeffery Ellis spent a lifetime collecting the clubs, but says he is now selling because he "has no more clubs to collect".
"The collection was so big I couldn't enjoy it because it was packed away in a vault," he said.