Metal Braces

I have only included information here on the Braces that relate to Woodworking Tools. Many other Engineers’ and other braces may be found in the catalogues.

I can trace MARPLES involvement in the production of the Iron based braces back to the 1846 List and they were probably made slightly before that time especially since it is shown there as an ‘Improved’ version! Only a Scotch Improved Iron Brace is mentioned at this time which is the same tool as advertised below in the 1861 Catalogue.

The 1873 Catalogue has this entry:

By 1897 things have drastically increased with the introduction of the ‘American Pattern’ brace with all its’ refinements:

The 1909 Catalogue [below] has all the usual Item number changes to confuse us.
[I have tried for hours to compose a composite Table to illustrate the various numbers, re-numbering, new additions and the deletions that occurred over time, but there are just simply too many variables and I failed to accomplish a useable table. So you will just have to peruse the years of Iron Brace  information that is presented here in order to positively identify your MARPLES Iron brace.]

The 1921 Catalogue, shortly after WW1, shows the usual reduction in commodities
[which rebounded by 1928]  :

The 1928 Catalogue:

By 1938 we see this detail:

By 1959 things were completely different:

And by 1965 [below] the bottom of the barrel has been reached, since nobody then wanted to actually turn a handle to bore a hole, it had to be electric, hence the demise of the Brace and Bit.

In the Price List of May 1966 here are the prices, followed by those of Nov 1969:

1440        28/3d                                  33/6d.
1445        34/-                                     40/-
1452        47/6d                                  withdrawn
1475        19/6d                                   24/-

By c.1970 they are all not manufactured any more!

I hope to have some real examples up here recently, but I am still working on them. [October 2022]  A Brace is the hardest tool to restore adequately and takes many hours of work on each one.  Most are found in a very bad state of repair and though cheap to buy, cost much  in hours of work, and then some are totally not restorable!!
Below is a later example that I have just placed here so to not lose it!




Wooden Braces

The earliest reference to MARPLES manufacturing Wooden Braces is to be found in the 1846 List wherein are listed ‘Best Braces‘ (9/- ea.) and ‘Improved Plated Braces‘. (13/- ea.)  The latter being exactly the same as the ‘Best‘ but with the added strength of brass plates inlet and screwed to the sides of the arms [which were the Achilles Heel of these braces being made of short grain timber and easily fractured under stress.]  The ‘Improved Plated Braces‘  could also be had with an Improved Brass Neck Head  for 2/- extra and were also available in Ebony, Box or Rosewood at 12/- extra to the standard Plated Beech.

A giant step in technology and quality was the introduction of the ‘Ultimatum’ Brace, patented by MARPLES in 1849.
A superb analysis of the MARPLES Ultimatum Brace  was published by Author and ‘Ultimatum’ Expert Reg Eaton, called ‘THE ULTIMATE BRACE‘.  As such I will not attempt to give any details here, but will thoroughly recommend you to read that book. [ISBN 0 9514695 0 9]

In the 1861 catalogue we have this listing:

The 1868 Catalogue shows this:

I am sorry about the quality of the 2 above pictures, but they are copies of copies etc!!
Although not shown here the ‘Best’ and ‘Improved Plated’ braces were still manufactured.

BUT, what is new information is that the 1868 catalogue shows that an item numbering system was in place at that time, when previously I had thought that this started in c.1873!

The 1873 Catalogue shows this picture [I only have a picture of the text as the actual picture of the brace is missing from the Hawley Museum files].

Although not shown here the ‘Best’ and ‘Improved Plated’ braces were still manufactured at this time.

The 1897 Catalogue shows that a wooden ‘Coopers’ Brace’ is manufactured [I do not know when this started] as well as the normal braces:

The above brace #458 is described as ‘with Brass Neck Head‘ added to #454

The 1909 Catalogue issues are noted below [note the Item number changes]:

I do not know for sure when the Wooden Braces were discontinued, but their demise was totally due to the emergence of the American Style steel brace and by 1921 there is nothing about the wooden braces to be seen!