William P. Dolin

At the time of the award of his single brace patent, William Dolin lived in Charlottesville, VA.  His relationship with the Millers Falls Co is not clear, but his patent for a brace ratcheting mechanism (awarded Jan. 17, 1871; no. 110960) may have been the basis for the development of Millers Falls' highly successful line of ratchet bit braces, the "30 series", including numbers 30, 31, 32, & 33.

I've recently acquired an old, but typical example of the 30 series of ratchet bit braces--a No. 32, with 10 inch sweep.  Its age is shown by the cylindrical wrist handle of rose wood that has poured pewter retainers and is not reinforced by brass inserts.  The top handle is dark lignum vitae.  Most interesting is the barber chuck shell that is impressed with two patent dates.  The first is that of Charles Amidon's Jan 14, 1868 patent for the "improved Barber's jaws".  The second is that of Dolin's 1871 patent.  Not having seen this patent invoked before (Ron Pearson rates it as "NS),  I looked back to the Millers Falls 1887 catalogue reprint, and found that, indeed, the ratchet mechanism for the 30 series was listed as "..Dolan's (sic) Patent Ratchet Attachment."

The ratchet is seemingly the ordinary boxed open ratchet seen on all of these early braces.  It is an irony that what may be a very common patented ratchet is so rarely marked that it has escaped detection!


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