"Be it known that I, Samuel J.
Johnston, a citizen of the United States, residing at Leesburg,
in the county of Loudoun and State of Virginia, have invented a
new and useful Combination-Tool, of which the following is a
It was the dream of many
19th-Century inventors to design tools that could perform
On December 4, 1894 Samuel Johnson
of Leesburg, Virginia was issued a patent for a transformer
brace that could be turned into a wrench and other tools. It was
manufactured by the P. Lowentraut Company founded in Newark, New
Jersey in 1869.
It is difficult to find a complete
tool but over the years I sought out the various parts and was
able to have one as complete as possible. The hard part to find
is the detachable ratcheting chuck that holds tapered tang bits
and included a screwdriver bit with a glasscutter and glass
breaking notch in it.
Does it all work? Yes, the tool
performs well in each of its functions.
This may be the only complete Samuel Johnson patented
I spent over 40 years finding the parts one at a time. In this
photo it is configured as a ratcheting brace. The individual
tool holder is shown in the center of the photo.
The jaws of the wrench head have tapered sockets to hold bits.
This photo shows the ratcheting tool holder mounted
in the jaws of the wrench head.
The top sweep and pad can be easily removed to transform
this tool into a L-shaped wrench.
Then the handle can be released and swung around to create
a more conventional wrench.
This is a detail photo of the ratcheting tool holder. The
knurled collar can
be turned to right and left ratcheting positions or left in a