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US Patent: 140
Machine for mortising posts and sharpening rails for fences
Patentee:
Wandle Mace - New York, NY

USPTO Classifications:
144/84, 408/1R, 408/30

Tool Categories:
woodworking machines : joint making machines : mortising machines
woodworking machines : wood drilling and boring : mortising machines

Assignees:
None

Manufacturer:
Wandle Mace - New York, NY

Witnesses:
John Mace
Erastus Buck

Patent Dates:
Granted: Mar. 11, 1837

Patent Pictures:
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"Vintage Machinery" entry for Wandle Mace
Description:
From the "Autobiography of Wandle Mace, 1809-1890". "...had in my mind of a machine for making post and rail fence. I rented a shop and went to work to perfect my plans, and made a working model which I exhibited at the fair on October, 1836, and was awarded a diploma by the American Institute for a post mortising and rail sharpening machine (a model). This model I sent to the city of Washington, D.C. by my brother, John Mace, and received a patent for the same. He was detained some time awaiting the patent papers and before he received them a fire broke out and burned the patent office and post office. My patent papers which had been made out, ready to deliver, were burned and my brother had to return without them. But another set was made and sent to me. By a kind providence my little model was saved, the only one it was said of all the curiosities that had been in the patent office. It happened to be saved in this way: Some one about the patent office was operating the little model and broke some little piece about it, and it had been taken to a workshop to be repaired, and while it was at the shop the fire broke out, and thus my little model was saved. This fire took place in December 1836. I then made a machine for working up the timber and making fence. In September, 1837, I exhibited at the Mechanic's Fair held in Niblo's Garden, and was awarded a diploma by the Mechanic's Institute of New York for a post mortising and rail sharpening machine, good for saving labor. I sold patent rights to a large amount and with this means I was enabled to settle all the obligations of my brother, John and myself which were incurred from failure in business, when we found ourselves several thousand dollars worse than nothing."

From the Journal of the American Institute's December 1836 issue, in "Notices of Articles Exhibited at the Late Fair": "Patent post morticing and rail sharpening machine, by Wandle Mace, 249 Elizabeth-street and 614 Broadway. Which will save farmers a great amount of time and labour, by reason of which they will be able to fence their farms with great rapidity and little expense. The machine, with one man, having water or one horse power, will finish a post of five holes in five minutes, and time and labour is saved in sharpening the rails; the machine effecting from 700 to 1000 per day, saving the expense of eight or ten men a day. The machine, being portable, may be taken to the forest, or placed in a bar or cut-house, the horse applied, and the above work effected."

The Rutgers University library has a copy of a woodcut advertisement, "Wandle Mace's patent post morticing and rail sharpening machine", purportedly dated 1845. The Winterthur Museum also has a Wandle Mace ad, but they do not indicate a date.

An autobiography of Mace indicates that he sold his patent rights in late 1837 or early 1838, which, if we accept the 1845 date given above, suggests that Mace was not the actual manufacturer. Mace had joined the Mormon church and had moved to Illinois. My suspicion is that the 1845 date is incorrect.

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