American Bit Brace Co. Buffalo, NY
The American Bit Brace Co. was created in Buffalo, NY by Ansley D. White
about 1888. The company survived through 1892, at least. White had
been a former partner of Charles Amidon in the firm of
Amidon & White that operated in Buffalo from 1883 to 1887. In 1887 Amidon
forged a new partnership with Walter Bastedo, and Ansley White left to found the
American Bit Brace Co. Amidon & Bastedo occupied the same building as
Amidon & White at 135-137 Main Street, while the new American Bit Brace Co.
moved to 122- 126 Washington St. In addition to making "fine tools" the
company advertised providing nickel plating services. Nickel plating was
also a product/service provided by Amidon & White, and its successor, Amidon &
Bastedo--but not by earlier Amidon-related companies. Ansley White may
have introduced that technology to the company line. (Advertisement from an
early Buffalo city directory was kindly provided by Joel Havens).
I have a sleeve
brace marked, "American Bit Brace Co. on the chuck shell, and "No. 2708) on the
lower bow. It is an 8 inch sweep. The brace has characteristics that
revert to Amidon products--mainly curvaceous swaged retaining rings holding the
wrist handle, and notably "fat" wrist handle. I know of at least three
other braces similar to this one, and all of them (including mine) are reported
to have the patent date, "Oct. 13, 1888" stamped on the chuck shell. This
is not a valid date, and no brace patent relating to it has been found.
when the details of the chuck on this brace are examined, it is clear that the
jaws are distinctly those that were described in a patent (No. 392062) issued to
Johannes T. Pederson of Brooklyn, NY on October 30, 1888.
The clinching fact is that Pederson assigned this patent to the American Bit
Brace Co. The jaws have hemispherical bases, that fit into rounded
recesses in the chuck core. So it appears that the odd Oct 13, 1888 patent
date may have been a "typo" when stamped at the factory. Pederson's patent
rates a Pearson's "A" for rarity.
Pederson also received a patent on Oct 2, 1888 (No. 390516) for
a ratchet mechanism applicable to tool handles and brace chucks. This was
also assigned to the American Bit Brace Co, but has not been reported as having
The American Bit Brace Co. made a ratchet brace incorporating
the Lewis C. Wilcox patent of May 27, 1890 (No. 428984 and assigned to the
American Bit Brace Co.). My example of this brace is another 8 inch sweep
one (marked No. 2608). The Wilcox name and patent date is marked on the
ratchet housing below the ring selector. The chuck shell is marked,
"American Bit-Brace Company, Buffalo, N.Y. Patent Applied For." Perhaps
there is yet another patent pertaining to the American Bit Brace Co.
Another example of the Wilcox patent in an American Bit Brace
Co. product has emerged. This one is a sleeve brace (marked, No. 1110), in
nearly new condition, clearly marked with the patent date on the chuck shell.
The jaw mechanism on this one, however, is slightly different from the one
above. The ratchet brace above has the hemispherical ends of the jaws
fitting into circular mortises in the chuck tube extension. In the newer
find, the tops of the jaws are machined to slip into open mortises near the ends
of the extension. It is an interesting variant.
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