of the most celebrated braces among collectors is an unusual one patented on Oct
28, 1868 (#83261, Pearson "B") by Benjamin Darling of Bridgewater,
Massachusetts. Its "B" rarity rating is a bit misleading, probably because
this brace is so distinctive that specimens of it are immediately recognized and
make their way into collections very quickly. It is perhaps the most
prized brace for a collection, and surely has the greatest value of any brace.
It is the brace the patent diagram of which decorates the cover of Ron Pearson's
book. I live about 20 miles from Bridgewater, and thus am in the epicenter
of its distribution, and have only seen one of these braces "in the wild."
Darling's brace has an unusual mechanism to open the pair of small flat
jaws. A lever, the end of which locks into holes drilled into the bow,
is rotated up and down to pull the jaws into the chuck shell, closing them and
locking them in position. The appeal of this brace is probably do to the
uniqueness of this idea--not its functionality.
These pictures of Darling's brace are taken of one in "as found" condition
(really not bad) before any cleaning was attempted. An older tool
collector friend of mine, Bill Machado, was told by "Mac" McClellan (a deceased
tool collector from Bridgewater) that he had gone to high school with Benjamin
Darling's grandson in the 1920s. According to McClellan, Darling's shop
was a small one with only one or two workers, and his brace production was quite
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