There were at least seven brace patents awarded to Albert D. Goodell over
the course of an inventive history that stretched from 1868 to 1905 (he lived
from 1846 to 1915). From a commercial standpoint none of Goodell's patents were
very successful, and braces bearing them rate no more common than a "B" in Ron
Pearson's scale of relative rarity.
of Goodell's patents was awarded on July 14, 1868 (#79825, Pearson "A") and was
the Goodell chuck found in some of the earliest Millers Falls Mfg braces. At
this time Goodell is listed in Florence, Massachusetts (part of today's
Northampton). Later he moved to Greenfield, Mass where he was a principal in
the Goodell Bros Co. Some of his patents were assigned to the Millers Falls Co
in the 1870s. By 1892 he is recorded in Worcester, Mass and then back to his
ancestral Shelburne Falls in 1905.
own a sleeve brace with 8" sweep (No. 108) that is marked by the
Co. of New York. Also marked on the chuck is "Pat Dec 27, 1892." This is for
Goodell's patent of that date (#488691, Pearson "B") after he had sold his
interest in Goodell Bros and was listed in Worcester. The patent is for a
ratchet adjustment mechanism and selector, as well as for a jaw spring
arrangement. Being a sleeve brace, of course it does not have the patented
ratchet mechanism. But neither does it have the jaw spring arrangement, even
though the jaws appear original. Perhaps Jennings simply used chuck shells
marked with the patent date indiscriminately. A second Jennings brace,
with the same chuck shell, marked the same way, is a ratchet brace, and does
exhibit both the Goodell 1892 patent for the ratchet selector, as well as the
spring loaded jaws.
Yet another example of this patent number appears on the chuck of an 8"
sweep ratchet brace marked, "Fulton Special". While the ratchet mechanism
of this brace is not consistent with that of the patent, it does have the coiled
spring loaded jaws. An identical brace is pictured from the collection of
Jon Zimmers, cited by the listing for this patent on
Albert sold his share of Goodell Bros to another Goodell--Dexter W.
Goodell, and proceeded to found another company, Goodell Tool Co. with his son,
Frederick, in 1892. Originally located in Worcester, they moved back to
Shelburne Falls in 1893. The Goodell Tool Co. manufactured braces and other
items and eventually merged with the Goodell-Pratt Co by 1925.
The Dec 27, 1892 patent date appears as one of two on the chuck shell of a
ratchet brace I have that is marked by the "Goodell Tool Co." of Shelburne
Falls, Mass. It has both the ratchet adjuster (a protruding screw-eye hook
below the ratchet dogs) and the spring opening jaws of Patent #488691. But the
chuck shell is also marked with the patent date, "Sept 18, 1894." This patent
(#526314, Pearson "NS") was issued to Francis Hay of Erie, Pennsylvania for a
"bitstock with fast-acting rotary chuck." The external appearance of the chuck
is exactly like that shown in the patent drawing. The "fast-acting rotary
chuck" means that you can tighten a bit place with just a simple twist. The
brace, and its chuck is shown below.
After Albert Goodell left Goodell Bros to form the Goodell Tool Co, the old
Goodell Bros firm was purchased about 1898 by William Pratt to form "Goodell-Pratt."
Goodell-Pratt began an ambitious program of acquisition (Stratton Bros, Coffin &
Leighton, Lavigne) including a partial acquisition of the Goodell Tool Company,
becoming sole owner of that firm by 1925. Among the braces produced by Goodell-Pratt
was one with the same ratchet mechanism patented by Albert Goodell in 1892. The
brace below is an example of that output.
Goodell-Pratt also marketed another brace with Hay's and Goodell's
patent--just like the Goodell Tool Company brace above. Another of their very
limited line of braces was their No 230 Brace Screwdriver set, shown below
without its bits. This example carries a patent date of Dec 27, 1892 which
pertains not to the ratchet covered by the same patent, but to the locking nut
at the base of the quill..
As the company grew and matured, some new braces were added to the line.
Goodell-Pratt's best brace was probably ratchet brace shown below. This carries
a patent date of Sept 16, 1924, which was issued in the name of Fred Farley of
Greenfield, Mass (#1508512, Pearson unranked) for a ratchet mechanism. The
ratchet selector on this brace is a knurled knob at the top of the ratchet
housing. The red paint on the housing is original.
Although I don't know if the following brace ever
appeared in a Goodell-Pratt Catalogue, my example of it is marked, "GP Co."
This is the rare (Pearson, A) takedown corner brace patented on July 2,
1907 (#859059) by Christopher Haeberli and Herbert Schmidt of Buffalo, NY.
One of these braces was offered in Martin J. Donnelly's 1999 catalogue, in which
it was referred to as the, "utter manifestation of the concept of tool gizmocity,"
and priced at a whopping $2,450.00! And mine is in better condition.
This brace converts from a fairly standard corner brace appearance by
removing the outer arm, rotating the chuck end to come in line with the vertical
lower shaft, where it is attached by sliding knurled rings. It doesn't
look very efficient, but the patentees must have had a good time developing it!
In 1931 the Goodell-Pratt Company was absorbed into the Millers Falls
Company. Although some of G-P's extensive drill line was maintained by
Millers Falls, all of the G-P brace models were terminated.
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