With very little effort or
expense I seem to have acquired a large number of
combination tool handles.
While it may be stretching the
definition to call these "fine tools", some of them are really
finely made, with rosewood or cocobolo handles and well
finished, useful tools in the handle.
I often pack one along on my
travels in order to do little jobs that come up. At first glance
they all look pretty much alike; but there are enough
differences to have permitted several different patents to have
been issued for them.
Indeed, many more patents were
issued than actually resulted in manufactured tools. In 1894
alone 20 patents for combination tools are listed in the Patent
Gazette. I have seen only one of them as a real product. It has
been useful to me to make a classification into types; and
perhaps the following first attempt will be useful to others and
can later be expanded if other types turn up.
Type 1, patented in 1858 by
Herrick Aiken, was an easy step from the shoemaker's awl, made
by making the handle hollow to hold a variety of different
points. It may be recognized as having a square-sided chuck that
needs a wrench to tighten it, and a wrench is normally one of
the tools included in the set. Patent of Herrick Aiken -
The handle is a native hardwood,
probably apple. Some are stamped "AIKEN PATENT" on the metal
sleeve, but many of identical design are not market. A good
picture of this type can be seen on p.212 of R. S. Barlow's 171e
Antique Tool Col1ector's Guide to Value.
Type 2 is based on Patent
62,938 issued to Nathan S. Clement on March 19, 1867. The
tightening mechanism is entirely different from any of the other
The chuck is at the end of a rod
that extends the length of the handle and is pulled back by an
internal screw in the cap of the handle. The best-know ones of
this type are all-metal, for instance, the Stanley "Excelsior",
but Stanley also made one with a boxwood handle.