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By Boringgeoff
Good morning all,
I bought this 7" brace at a swap meet on Sunday. It is marked "Beech & Pond. 108 Old St London EC" on the chuck and on the frame "Steel 7in".
The only information I can find on Beech & Pond is this thread below from 2009. Where the OP mentions the dates 1895 - 1905.
A hardware chain? This brace is very similar, apart from the branding, to a J A Chapman No 63 that I have. Any further info on Beech & Pond would be appreciated.
Geoff. ... hap-t31462. html

Edit: Sorry chaps this link is not working, comes up with page not found. I found it by typing in Beech & Pond in the search box at the top of the page.
Beech & Pond 002.png
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By AndyT
Yes, Beech and Pond were a tool merchant.

The reference to "wiki" in the previous post probably meant the genealogy site Wikitree rather than the better-known Wikipedia. However, it's family historians to the rescue with this site: ... h-and-pond

which includes this splendid photo


and a contemporary account of the business.

I had a quick look at Old Street using Google Maps street view, but couldn't see any trace of the building now.
However, if you go to this thread


you will find a link to a downloadable booklet from Historic England which gives a really good picture of the area, which was the heart of London's furniture making trade.
By Boringgeoff
Thanks Andy,
That's very helpful and interesting. Poor old Arthur Pond was only in his mid 50's when he died. Your info' would date my brace from between 1891 and 1924 though I would put it nearer the later part of that period.
Thanks for your help.
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By ED65
Boringgeoff wrote:Your info' would date my brace from between 1891 and 1924 though I would put it nearer the later part of that period.

Yes, the aluminium would very firmly suggest that Geoff.
By Boringgeoff
I'm assuming you're referring to the handle retainers Ed, and that's a good point, but are they aluminium? I have always thought they are some kind of solder or lead alloy. I've based that on never having seen any evidence of corrosive reaction between the steel of the frame and the retainers which you could possibly get from aluminium. Without destroying the parts what test can I do to determine what they're made of?
By Boringgeoff
Yes probably more likely pewter than straight lead.
Time to phone my old boss, Bill, he was an industrial chemist and I'm sure will know what test to do.
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By ED65
Boringgeoff wrote:I'm assuming you're referring to the handle retainers Ed, and that's a good point, but are they aluminium? I have always thought they are some kind of solder or lead alloy.

Yes those. For a couple of years now I've been working on the assumption that those are an aluminium alloy because someone told me they were but :oops: I've never actually looked into it.

Of course we know there's a history of using a pewter-like metal in braces e.g. from the rings on old Spofford braces so it does seem a likely candidate, although I've haven't seen old pewter or similar alloys go that characteristic blue-grey. But if the rings do go exactly the same colour I think we have our answer!
By Boringgeoff
There is a problem for me to compare the pewter rings on a Spofford, with the retainers on a brace like the one above. The wooden handled Spoffords are fairly rare in Aus' and the few I've got I've bought on line and to enhance their look the seller has polished them up. Whereas the likes of the Chapman are frequently found here and in various states of neglect. Therefore the condition of both are quite different.
I did a test this morning using a little bit of Hydrocholic acid on three samples, a lead weight, a piece of aluminium and a pewter hip flask. Pic 1
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is before and 3
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is after I rinsed the acid off. You may be able to see that the lead is a little bit cleaner looking, on the upper end, the aluminium completely unaffected and the pewter darkened. I was unable to polish that stain off the pewter with a damp rag.
The third photo
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is of a retainer which the upper part has been painted in hydrocholic then rinsed off. The dark patina has been removed from the upper part.
Th last two are of a die-cast ratchet selector on a Skinner brace that received the same treatment 7 is before and 8 after. To me there is no difference in the two.
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HCL test 008.png
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In conclusion class, I would say that the retainers on my Beech & Pond are made of lead. Unfortunately I do not have a scientific background and am now preparing to have my theory blown clean out of the water.
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By AndyT
Ok, this is all a bit tentative, but I think it's going in the right direction.

Looking at the little metal bits either side of the handle on a brace, what are they made of?

Could it be aluminium? I don't think so. So-called "American" braces with a freely rotating wooden handle held between metal collars appeared from about the 1860s. Aluminium was known then but it was new, precious and expensive. It didn't become a mainstream material until the early C20 (Wikipedia).

Looking at the patents on DATAMP, I found this one by Clemens Rose in 1868 . I don't know if this is the first, or the most significant or what, but it does describe making these collars, either from brass (slid in place and soldered on) or else "cast of soft metal" in situ.

Looking at my own tiny reference selection of braces, the older ones all have collars made from something softer than aluminium. It's pale grey and soft enough to be easily be scratched with a fingernail. To me it looks like lead but it could easily be some other alloy - maybe pewter, or babbit.

More modern braces have steel collars (tested with a magnet) which have presumably been forced on, shrunk on or soldered in place. One old brace has iron collars - but that's a French one.

Glancing at the website - whose author has spent far more time looking into the details of braces than I ever will - I did spot references to these collars being made of pewter - eg here where he writes about a brace whose " age is shown by the cylindrical wrist handle of rose wood that has poured pewter retainers and is not reinforced by brass inserts. "

I know that somewhere I have seen a video of braces being made, with a few seconds of the straight assembly being put into a machine to be bent to shape. If I can find it, I'll post a link in case it helps with the preceding steps.
By Boringgeoff
Thanks for the video Andy, that's great hand -eye coordination by those men.
Other American manufacturers Quimby Backus and William Ives, for instance, used a similar copper or brass cone, soldered in place, to retain the handles.
I suppose there are different mixtures of lead / pewter just as there are different grades of solder. The answer will be to remove a ferrule and take it to a metallurgist.