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Bussell's 1890 patent lathe tool holder


Oct 25, 2002
Kansas City, Mo.
I recently acquired an interesting Interchangeable Lathe Tool Holder of a type I had never seen before. It was invented and patented by an Englishman living in New York City in the late 19th century. Edward Bussell received a US patent for this on June 10 1890 (#429,883) and most likely produced a small quantity of these along with Samuel Reese of Westfield, NJ. This nearly unused example was found just a fews miles away in the the attic workshop of a wealthy banker named Charles S. Shultz (1839-1924) in Montclair, NJ. The amazing thing is this shop was set up in 1896 and stayed totally intact until this past summer, a 125 years! This probably sat on a shelf, undisturbed since at least the time of his death nearly a 100 years ago. There is a label with an engraving of the tool holder on the outside of the lid however it is in extremely poor condition and I’m not sure it is restorable.

The holder itself is quite interesting, it is highly polished and mounts in a lathe or planer tool post as normal. It has the patent date on one side and “Size A, 7/8 x 3/8 x 5” on the other leading one to think it could have been offered in different sizes. The hardened cutters in different profiles have tapered shanks and fit tight in the holder. One neat feature is they can be rotated into the exact position and then will seat themselves tighter with any downward pressure from use. To remove just tap them from the bottom and they pop right out. Pretty cool idea and one I have never seen before, in real or in books and catalogs. Have you?

This set was among the newer things with a very fine lathe from this shop, along with all of its original tooling that we think Mr. Shultz bought in the 1870s. It is in near perfect condition with a 150 years of dirt on it. More on this as it gets cleaned.


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Jim Christie

Mar 14, 2007
L'Orignal, Ontario Canada
Nice Tool Holder.
I was thinking I had seen something similar before advertised in old magazines or posted on this forum but don't remember seeing the name Bussell.
I see you posted about the OK Tool type which was the name I was thinking of.
It seems to me that there was at least one other type but I can't remember the names at the moment .