With the success of the Taylor patent brace really little inventive activity
seems to have occurred until the 1850s when a number of patents pertaining
mainly to chucks and their means of gripping bits appeared. Most of these were
not produced in quantity and today are often quite rare. Examples of chucks
patented by Daboll, Streeter,* and others are found, but are quite uncommon.
Toward the end of this decade some important advances in chuck design were made
when the patents of Nelson Spofford and
Clemons Rose made their appearances. Spofford's chuck was made famous by the
John S. Fray Co. of Bridgeport, Connecticut, and is
considered under that company’s page, while the Rose chuck was an early product
of the Millers Falls Mfg Co.
In the early 1860s interest in devising new bitstock designs seems to have
exploded, and about 100 new brace-related patents were awarded during the
decade. One of the prominent brace inventers to emerge at this time was Harry S.
Bartholomew of Bristol, Connecticut. Not immediately concerned with
European Ball Brace
Bartholomew was initially interested in ways to fit his braces with wooden wrist
handles. His early patents were for the idea of sliding a lathe-turned handle
down an iron rod that had been fitted with a cup handle at one end, and then
bending the rod above and below the wrist handle to form the bow of the brace.
These braces tended to be small, were lightly constructed, and had a simple
chuck with a side screw to fix the bit. Indeed, Bartholomew marketed them as
"cheap" braces. The wrist handles were small and turned to very short, fat
shapes. Bartholomew termed them "Ball" braces, and their general
appearance was similar to the "penny" or "gent’s" braces produced in Europe. Bartholomew’s ball brace patents were successful
and, and being a brace manufacturer, he sold many of these braces before the
patents ran their course. After that occurred, with few exceptions most manufacturers adopted his
ideas, and the technique of fixing a wooden wrist handle before bending the
brace shaft became a universal production technique, continuing to today.*
These braces are marked a bit unusually, having Bartholomew's name and/or
the patent date lightly stamped along the middle of the wrist handle. This
one, for example, is marked, "Patented / May 21, 1861." This is
patent #32347 and is commonly found.
Chuck Zitur has a brace like this, marked with the patent, that was
manufactured by Fray & Pigg. So Bartholomew
must have licensed his patent out to other manufacturers..
Bartholomew went on to obtain several other patents for braces, and
championed the patents of other inventors. One of these was of
(#307252, Oct. 28, 1884, Pearson "A" for rarity) for a chuck which levered the tang of a bit into the
jaws after they had been closed (the illustration is from one of Bartholomew's
Bartholomew himself modified this design in a subsequent patent (June 18,
1889) to screw the upper assembly of the chuck forward against the seated tang. It
is interesting that this idea had been earlier exploited by
Albert Goodell in
a chuck that was found in some of the earliest Millers Falls Mfg. Co. braces .
The brace production of Harry Bartholomew, which began as early as 1855
finally ended in 1903 when the company was acquired by the Stanley Rule & Level
Company as one of the early acquisitions in their program to enter the bit
brace market in a big way. Bartholomew continued to work, receiving his
final brace patent in 1906, and assigned his patents to Stanley..