Bartholomew Brace

I really have a lot of fun finding old tools that I can use, rehabbing them and putting them to use.  Last week, we were in Winthrop, WA and I found this little guy in a flea market store for $12.

I took it home, cleaned it up and was able to read the stamp on it.

I also get a kick out of researching the story behind these tools and here’s what I found.

Nos. 117 – 119

Bartholmew brace

Bartholomew Brace

Hardwood head and handle; Bartholomew’s jaws.

An inexpensive brace manufactured by the H.S. Bartholomew Company of Bristol, Connecticut, and sold by the Millers Falls Company. Features jaws patented by Harry. S. Bartholomew on May 24, 1870.

Illustration from 1878 catalog.

Model No. Sweep Start Date End Date
No. 117 8 inch by 1878 by 1885
No. 118 9 1/2 inch by 1878 by 1885
No. 199 10 1/2 inch by 1878 by 1885

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 chucks, 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.*

More From Sandy’s Site

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5 Responses to Bartholomew Brace

  1. I work for a carpentry firm in London and I came across your site while doing some research and wanted to say what a great site you’ve got here. This post really made me chuckle as I’m quite obsessed at collecting tools and you found yourself a bargain here. Really informative post, thanks

  2. ha ha, I’m glad there are others! I sometimes think my tool collecting is getting out of control.

  3. Brian Foster says:

    Bartholomew is an ancestor of mine, thanks for cleaning it up! If you ever decide to get rid of it id love to add it to the family collection!

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