Antique Brown & Flather Brace

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Forum topic by rilanda posted 07-26-2012 07:17 AM 4728 views 0 times favorited 1 reply Add to Favorites Watch
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172 posts in 2329 days

07-26-2012 07:17 AM

This Brace came into my possession about 30 years ago having paid about £5 for it. The tool looked like it had been kept in a coal hole for the major part of its existence, it was heavily tarnished, black, and very dirty, so much so that none of the inscriptions you can now see were not visible then, therefor I had no idea what I had bought. As you can see from the photo’s the screws holding the inserted brass plates were so corroded as to have been impossible to remove and thereby make the cleaning process much easier so all the cleaning had to be done with the brace intact. The button from the end of the brace was missing so I made a temporary replacement in walnut until such time a nice piece of Rosewood comes along and I can make one to match the original (I believe the originals were Rosewood). The brace was cleaned with linseed oil and the grime was removed the brass section were cleaned with a brass polish and a tooth brush and soft cloth, not to much abrasive work was done as I did not wish to destroy its antique value. the following is a document I have found on the internet regarding a similar brace.

The brace was made by the firm “Brown and Flather” who operated between 1828 and 1849 in Sheffield, and to my delight, on inspecting the wood bits I discovered that they were also manufactured by the same company.
Brown and Flather was a partnership of Henry Brown and David Flather and was first listed in the 1828 Directory at King’s Arms on Fargate Street, Sheffield. It seems that they acquired the business of James Bee who was the first listed brace maker appearing in the 1814 Sheffield Directory.
Ken Roberts in his book “Some 19th Century English Woodworking Tools”, suggests that James Bee may have designed the plated style of brace before turning over his business in 1828. Ken Roberts also concludes that the plated brace was introduced at Sheffield, c1829. This conclusion is based on “The 1829 J.Wilk’s Price List”. This is the earliest known dated reference to improved plated braces. Brown and Flather apparently were the makers of the braces listed.

I also have a number of bits to fit this brace, however not bought with the brace but bought from a variety of antiques fairs, car boot sales etc. many of them bought for a few pence each


The brace is used occasionally and I have no idea of its value.

inscription reads Brown & Flather sole manufacturers of the patent antifriction brace John Bottom inventor

Inscription reads: Henry Brown Patentee

Inscription reads Brown & Flather Sheffield

The brace as it is today

-- Bill, Nottingham. Remember its not waiting for the storm to end, but learning to dance in the rain that counts. If you dont make mistakes, you make nothing at all.

1 reply so far

View Tom Godfrey's profile

Tom Godfrey

488 posts in 2350 days

#1 posted 07-26-2012 10:38 AM

That is awesome. Never seen anything that looks like that. You need to find someone that can give you the value of it. I would hate to see this ending up in some yard sale once you are no longer here on earth.
Hope all is going well with you and family. I was just thinking of writing you when I turned on the computer and saw this post.
I really do admire you, your knowledge of woodworking, your skills and most of all sharing this information with all of us. You are showing us things you cant find in books and the internet.
There are a lot of LJ members that share each and every day and for me that what’s makes this site one of the best when it comes to woodworking. You and a few others have shared with me not only information but sent details on how to make things and you can’t beat that and no one has asked for money.
A lot of people look down on what is going in the world and take a negative attitude and if they would just open their eyes they would see this world is filled with wonderful and great people. To me you are one of those along with a host of other LJ members.
Thank God for LJ and its members.

-- Tom Godfrey Landrum South Carolina (

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