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Mechanic's Tools and Their Makers

  Combination Tool Handles by Trevor Robinson

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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 - Franklin, NH.

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 types.

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.

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