CHARLES H. AMIDON
Even before Charles Amidon entered into his partnership with Levi Gunn to
form the Millers Falls Mfg Co in 1868, he had been inventive in the brace field.
His first brace patent was #50214 (Pearson "B") issued on Oct 3, 1865. An
example of his second patent (#64931, May 21, 1867, Pearson "B") is shown in the
unmarked brace below.
Although Amidon's middle initial was "H," it probably stood for Irony.
With his third brace patent, issued in
1868, came his greatest success, and it wasn't even named for him.
Amidon's patent was ever after known as "Barber's Improved" chuck.
Moreover, by 1870 he had left the company he helped found, and that company was
then to thrive on an invention he had created, even as he became mired in bankruptcy.
When Amidon left the Millers Falls Mfg Co he did not move far. He established other companies
(perhaps as many as three or more) near the new Millers Falls plant, and
continued to produce braces among other products. One of his early braces is
shown below. It is a distinctive brace—certainly not a clone of those being
then produced by Millers Falls. The cup handle is capped by a central steel round
bolt head, and the wooden wrist handle rotates between two sleek form-fitting
steel ferrules. The patented feature shown on this brace involves a cylindrical
chuck shell screwed onto a threaded sleeve. The sleeve surrounds two jaws, each
of which is hinged in the middle and pinned to the shaft. This patent is marked
"NS" (not seen) by Pearson, and is quite rare. The shell is marked, "Amidon Mfg
Co. / Millers Falls, Mass. / Patent’d July 1st, 1873." Not long after this brace
was manufactured, Amidon moved to Buffalo, New York in 1877.
After bankruptcy in 1877, Charles Amidon (his friends probably called
him, "Chuck") located in Buffalo, NY and continued to receive patents for, and
manufacture braces with a number of partners (Amidon & Bastedo, Amidon & Hastell,
Amidon & White, Saxton & Amidon, Amidon Tool Co, etc). While most of these were
undistinguished and were variations on the Barber chuck idea or the old side
screw chuck, one of these--#226648 (Apr, 20, 1880) is stamped on the chuck of
this brace (Pearson "B" rating). The brace is marked by Amidon & Bastedo, a
partnership that did business between 1887 and 1892. This brace has an
interesting open latch pawl ratchet that is selected by a lever below the bow.
It is similar to a patent granted to E.H. Whitney (#319159) on June 2, 1885
(Pearson "A" rating).
of the things about this brace that I find fascinating is that its cup handle is
almost identical to the cast iron handles found on the
Taylor patent braces. It has a similar casting,
quill, and central brass top screw (marked with a number) as those seen on
Taylor patent braces produced by, among others, Increase Wilson of New London, Conn who died more than 20 years before this brace was manufactured
The outline pattern of Charles Amidon’s business history suggests that of a
bright and somewhat desperate inventor, who had poor business sense. He seemed
able to talk his way into partnerships that were never enduring. He must have
been a difficult personality.
Return to Millers Falls Page
Return to Brace INDEX