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This page contains a map of "Buttrick Territory", with pictures and descriptions of several types of clamps marked "Buttrick". Most makers made wooden clamps that did not change much over the years, but exhibited great stability of design. Buttrick (along with Bliss, Narragansett, and Grand Rapids) had more than one mark. Buttrick (along with Bliss) had more than one design. These clamps exhibit more variety than most!

Each section has

The organization and presentation is based on the following evidence:

  1. one "Chelmsford" marked clamp, apparently all parts original, with early jaw shape
  2. Several "Chelmsford" style clamp (some marked), apparently all parts original, with late jaw shape
  3. Several "Carlisle" marked clamps, apparently all parts original
  4. A clamp with one "Carlisle" marked jaw, and one other jaw, with spindles of uncertain origins.
I hope to use the clamps themselves to establish their history, and then to find supporting evidence in documents.

Map of Middlesex county, highlighting Carlisle, Chelmsford, and Lowell

This current map shows the close proximity of Carlisle, Chelmsford, and Lowell. Town boundaries have shifted, but not significantly, since 1810, when Carlisle separated from Concord.

Early Chelmsford


Almost all of the Buttrick Early Chelmsford clampThis is in very good condition, except for chipped thread on the through spindle.

The length of the jaws is 8 1/2 inches, and the spindles are about 3 inches longer. The jaws are very nearly square in cross-section; the slight discrepancy could be due to shrinkage over the years.

Maker Mark

Mark on Buttrick early Chelmsford clampSeveral things should be noted:

Except that this combination occurs a number of times, we might question the association.

Notice too that (1) the gap between the B and the U, and (2) the comma after the K, will be found to be present in all these maker marks. Perhaps there is only only die used all these years!


 through jaw of Buttrick clamp made in Chelmsford, without a slope I now have (thanks to my son), a clamp marked N. Buttrick/ Chelmsford (see above) which lacks a slope.

Other clamps lacking a slope were made by

  1. Samuel Wing in the late 1700s (in museum of OSV, and mentioned in Chronicle), and
  2. Rufus Bliss in the 1830s and early 1840s (before Bliss and Co.) (one example in my collection).
All other clamps that can be dated later have a slope. It seems that the lack of a slope is characteristic of early clamps, and that later clamps adopted the slope, for whatever reason.

We may infer that Chelmsford clamps by Buttrick are early, not late. We may also infer that Buttrick was one of the earliest clamp makers, predating Aldrich.


Chamfering is found on several edges. (It is not always apparent, due to wear.) The main chamfer is steeply inclined (some 60 degrees ?) from the outside of the jaw to either the top or bottom side. It can easily be seen in the picture of the maker mark, on the jaw to the right, and in the picture of the through jaw.

In addition, there is minor chamfering on three edges of the back, at some 45 degrees. This chamfering is not even, being deeper on the back/outside edge, and more shallow elsewhere. It can be seen above, on the jaw to the right, and less clearly on the jaw to the left.

There is sufficient wear on the nose that I cannot be sure about the presence of chamfering. The chamfer is on at least 5 edges, and might be on 8 edges in all.


In this only known case, they appear to be original.

handle of stopped spindle of Buttrick early chelmsford clampOn the early Chelmsford specimen, the spindles are distinguished. The stopped spindle handle is slightly barrel shaped. The end is a series of flat faces, with an inclined transition at the "corner".
handle of through spindle of Buttrick early chelmsford clampThe through spindle handle has a slight shoulder, has a pronounced barrel shape rather than waisted, with an end that is a series of flats.
In each case, the thread is hand cut, with a double cutter 180 degrees apart. The through spindle shows the farthest cut, while the stopped spindle shows the end of the other cut.

end of through spindle of Buttrick early Chelmsford clampThe end of the through spindle is a truncated cone.

Late Chelmsford, before 1837

Maker Mark

N. Buttrick in arch above, Chelmsford in cartouche belowThe name is in the same arc that we have seen before. The "Chelmsford" is in quite a different font and size, incused with a border. Except that the town is on both jaws, and in each case, having the same spatial relationship to the name, we might suspect the town mark was added after the clamp was made. (The "donut" is the standard hole reinforcer, included for scale.)

I know that Nathan Buttrick Jr. lived in Chelmsford before 1837. I have no known links between the other Nathan Buttricks and the town.



The major chamfer extends down the slope, becoming more narrow as it approaches the nose. The minor chamfer is hard to discern, given the degree of wear on these specimens. I would settle for "major chamfer on four edges" as the key.


We will consider only those that appear to be original.

On the late Chelmsford specimens, the spindles are distinguished. The through spindle handle has a slight shoulder, is robustly barrel shaped, not waisted, with a very rounded end. The stopped spindle handle is slightly barrel shaped. The end is flat, with an inclined transition to the "corner".

The barrel shapes are more prominent on these specimens, compared to the early Chelmsford specimen. This is probably related to their larger sizes. Also, the handle of the through spindle is not symmetric; the swelling is not in the center, but is displaced toward the end.

Early Carlisle, 1837 - 1850?

Maker Mark

Buttrick and Schwamb

above, N. Buttrick in arc; below, Charles Schwamb 2d in line

The name Buttrick is in an arc, apparently incised, without border. (This is same arc usually associated with Chelmsford.) The name Schwamb is clearly a separate item, presumably added by the owner after purchase.

The Schwamb Mill did woodworking after 1846 or 1847, and Charles Schwamb 2d ceased working in the Mill in 1902.

We cannot easily associate this to Nathan Buttrick Jr. working in Chelmsford before 1837. It is speculative that, for some while (more than 10 years?) after he moved to Carlisle, Nathan continued to use the arc without a town mark, and he only later began the use of the circular mark.

Late Carlisle, 1850?-1883

Maker Mark

Circular mark: Nathan Buttrick Carlisle, enclosing a 3The name Nathan Buttrick and town Carlisle are integrated into a single circle, bordered inside and out by a narrow line. A number of uncertain significance is inside the circle. If the speculation about Schwamb is accepted, then this mark dates from the 1850s and on.

I know Nathan Buttrick Jr. lived in Carlisle from 1837 until his death in 1883. I have no known links between the other Nathans and the town.


There are no significant differences in chamfering.

However, it is clear that Buttrick did not mass produce identical items. There are obvious disparities between specimens, and a lack of uniformity or consistency for each specimen. It is also clear that he did not produce a "line" of proportioned clamps, neatly graded in size. (See the Models, for examples.)

One explanation is that he made clamps intermittently, along with other products in the Mill.


We will consider only those that appear to be original. (For one specimen, the two jaws are married, and the spindles may be also.)

On the late Carlisle specimens, the spindles are so-called "universal". The stopped handle shape is very like the through spindle handle, as described above. It is hard, given the small number of specimens, to determine if the slight differences are intentional, or just manufacturing irregularities.

The threads are hand cut, possibly using different devices.

End of Stopped Spindle

end of stopped spindle, a smooth cylinderThe tip is cylindrical, and the diameter is less than the root diameter of the thread.

End of Through Spindle

Through spindle tip, a truncated coneThe tip is a truncated cone with fairly shallow angle to the normal plane of the spindle.

Handle of Stopped Spindle

Handle of Stopped spindle, showing threads The handle is slightly barrel shaped. It has a slight, but distinct shoulder.

Stopped Spindle Thread

Only one cut is visible. (see above)

Handle of Through Spindle

Through spindle handle, showing thread, probably not Buttrick This handle (uniquely) has a distinct waist. The end is well rounded. I believe that it is married, and not original. However, from wear marks, it is clear that it was mated to the jaw for a long while. It may be, on the other hand, that Buttrick made this variant on a whim.

Through Spindle Thread

Two cuts are visible. However, they are only 60-some degrees apart, not 180 degrees apart. I interpret this to mean that a shallow guide cut was made first, followed by the final cut. This was not made by a box with two cutters that worked simultaneously.

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