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Yankee Braces -  A Type Study of Sorts
by George Langford
February 17, 2007 - Additions, April 21, 2008

Only a few of these are left unsold - see the list here
North Bros. Mfg. Co. of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, made a line of high quality braces, starting within the year preceding March 6, 1923, the date on which the first patent was filed.  That first patent under which the braces were made was issued on November 6, 1923.  The last date under which a patent would be cited on the brace was seventeen years after the date of issuance of the last of the four patents, i.e., July 31, 1945.  The patent "lifetime" of the Yankee braces was therefore just over 22 years, ending just after the close of World War II in 1945, whereupon the production of STEMOR braces commenced in U.S.-occupied Japan.

The principal drawings illustrating the four patents are reproduced below, in numerical order from left to right.  As made by North Bros., before their acquisition by Stanley Tools, these drawings are quite exact in the qualitative sense.  The only changes that I can see here are: In Fig.5 in the second drawing each of the two ratchet pawls, #17 & #18, now has a wide slot on the side facing the spring, #22. Also, in the fourth drawing, the jaws are staked at #22 in Fig.5 to hold the spreader spring, Fig.4, but all the springs that I have seen continue to use the spring & washer combination in the third drawing, Fig's 4 & 5.  That said, the springs do change their detailed outlines somewhat, some looking like the third patent's drawing, and some looking like the fourth patent's drawing, but always with the third patent's washer.  The later jaws have a cored hole at the end of
the slot in addition to their interlocking outlines, which is far more
secure than the four staked spots in the early jaws, which wear out and then let the spring pop out of the groove.

Eventually, three patents were issued to Thomas J. Fegley and George O. Leopold, who then assigned them to their employer, North Bros. Mfg. Co.

Thomas J. Fegley was the sole inventer of the remaining patent, No. 1,617,998.

U.S. Patent No.
Filing Date
Issue Date
Title of Patent
March 6, 1923
November 6, 1923
Hand Brace
March 6, 1923
January 13, 1925
Ratchet Mechanism
November 25, 1925
February 15, 1927
August 31, 1923
July 31, 1928

Google Patents will find these for you in a flash; alternatively, click on any one of the drawings below to locate that entire patent.

If your Yankee brace is giving you fits, see taking apart and putting together a Yankee brace. Even though the procedure strictly applies to braces later made entirely by Stanley, the functionality is the same.

Many of the images in the listed groups are secondarily resized (by Mozilla Firefox) and can be seen full size by right-clicking on the images and selecting "View Image" in the pop-up menu.  (Not in Internet Explorer.)
US Patent 1,473,423, issued November 6, 1923 US Patent No. 1,523,187, issued January 13, 1923

US Patent No. 1,617,998, issued February 15, 1927 US Patent No. 1,679,299, issued July 31, 1928

In the present lists of Yankee braces (most of which are for sale) I have grouped the braces roughly according to the time periods during which they were made.  I discovered late in the editing of this page that Group H belongs right after Group B.  Then Dave France came along with what I have to call Group O.  The sequence is as follows: First, braces made  by North Bros. with two patent dates before the second pair of patents was issued, then braces marked with all four patents, then braces made with only the second pair of patent numbers cited, then braces with no patents cited, by which time The Stanley Works had acquired North Bros. and moved the manufacturing operations away from Philadelphia.  Finally, I have a pair of Yankee-style, Made in Occupied Japan braces made as virtual carbon copies of the North Bros. braces during the occupation of Japan by US forces under General Douglas MacArthur after the end of World War II.  By that time, all the patents had recently expired.  In the groups listed at right, not all the braces conform exactly to type - differences are noted on the index pages.
Group O - 1 patent date, others pending
2100-10 IN (not for sale)
Group E - WWII production,
4 patents cited
Group A - 2 patent dates, others pending
2100-10 IN
Group F - 2 patent numbers
Bell System - 2101-8 IN
Group B - 2 & 4 patent dates
2100-12 IN
Group G - 2 patent numbers
Bell System - 2101-10 IN
Group H - 2 patent dates
2101-12 IN
Group I - No patents cited
Bell System - 2101A-10 IN & -8 IN
Group C - 4 patents cited
2101-10 IN
Group J - Clones marked,
Made in Occupied Japan
Group D - 2nd Q, 4 patents cited
2101-10 IN
Group K - GREEN GOO braces
made by Stanley;
no patents cited
Group W - A ten-inch swing
Whimble b

Handle assembed - US Patent No.1,473,423
Exploded view of handle's innards
B&D-C7 with wrist pushed down
B&D-C7 with wrist slid up
Brace B&D-C7 provides a rare glimpse at the inner workings
of US Patent No. 1,473,423.  Without the loose sleeve, we'd never see how it's been assembled.

The first view of a cross section of the brace's wrist handle - the essence of this patent.  A sleeve is sweated (i.e., soft soldered) to the bow with the upper cup (called a nut in the patent text) already screwed on, and then the wrist handle is slid into place before the second nut is screwed home nice & tight.

Finally, the bow is bent to its final shape.

This brace's sleeve wasn't soldered on securely, and it now slides up & down as shown in the two images at right.  It might be repaired by undoing the upper nut, sliding the sleeve down, placing a piece of wire in the groove exposed in the "down" image, and then re-tightening the upper nut to trap the wire O-ring between the nut and the sleeve.  Just a theory ... haven't tried it.  One might even find the movable handle an advantage in tight quarters.  The nuts stay with the handle as it slides.  The sleeve does not rotate.