The first "faceplates" were there by necessity: the old wooden clubs used to hit featherie balls were damaged by striking the newer solid gutta balls and clubmakers repaired them with a leather insert on the face secured by shoemaker's nails. After a while these inserts became a design feature with new clubs having the leather insert on the face.
With the change to the "modern" shaped head around 1900, and especially with the widespread adoption of the ribber-cored Haskell ball, the hammering the clubface received was markedly reduced and the insert became purely ornamental and I suppose indicated the sweet-spot if you couldn't figure that out yourself! Black fibre and white plastic (ivorine) were extremely common with hickory dowels typically making a pattern on it e.g. [stupid thing won't let me post links so go to the Antique Golf Clubs from Scotland website and look at the Haskins bulldog brassie]
The Spalding club here is a driver which is why it does not have a soleplate as a brassie (2 wood) or spoon (3 wood) would have. Spalding did, unlike most other makers, put soleplates on drivers in the 1920s as can be seen on the woods in this list [again no link, search for Spalding under makers on the AGCFS site and click on "clubs made by this maker"], It has the black fibre slip secured by three hickory dowels to protect the sole. This was the traditional protection for a driver/playclub from the early 19th century onwards though earlier clubs would use ram's horn. This fibre one suggests the club was made around the time of the First World War.
Spalding made such a huge range of models (I've written something about the company in Antique Golf Clubs from Scotland's history section) it's difficult to be precise unless it is one of their patented or named models but using the simple head stamp "Spalding" was typical for their cheaper store-brand woods.