At a recent East Midlands TATHS meeting we had a discussion about early braces.
The first button pads to appear were made of iron rather than the usual brass
examples commonly seen right through the 19th century.
The top brace in this trio is possibly the earliest and was made by John Ryley
of Birmingham sometime around 1770.
The middle example is marked "Freeth" There are two possible candidates that may
have been the maker. Firstly, Benjamin Freeth of Birmingham who is listed in
1770 as being a gimlet and auger maker, or from the same 1770 directory, Samuel
and Samson Freeth, Edge tool makers, and factors.
The last brace in this trio is by William Laurie
of Edinburgh, 1774-1813. This brace shows the transition to the more usual brass
The iron form seem to be exceedingly rare, and I know of very few examples world
wide. If anyone knows of other similar braces I would love to see them.