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American Chain Come Along with Leather Holder  American Chain Come Along with Leather Holder
A very fine example of an interlocking chain nipper, this narrow trough model, dating to the second or the quite early third quarter of the 20th Century, is based on the classic John J. Tower, of Brooklyn, New York, patent (276,307) of 24 April 1883. Nickel plated steel. The heavy-duty, black leather holder, with snap closure, enabled the restraint to be worn on a police officer's belt.

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American Chain Come Along
Another American interlocking chain nipper. An excellent example of the traditional Tower pattern -- the most successful ever designed. In about mint condition, of nickel plated steel. Note the distinctively Art Moderne styling of this chain nipper, or twister.

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Edw. Bean American Chain Come Along
Chain nipper designed by Edward Davis Bean of Boston, and patented (298,158) 6 May 1884. This come along differs from the one patented by Tower a year earlier in that the handles interlock from one side only. Nicely aged patina.

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Early Bean American Chain Come Along
Another Bean chain nipper, having a larger, rectangular link at each end of the chain, connecting to each handle. This feature is found only on the earliest model made, and does not appear in the patent -- the application for which was filed 29 August 1882 -- drawings. Realising special end links were unneeded, they were removed to decrease production costs. Very well preserved and quite intact. Click here to see the patent application drawings.

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Pre-patent Bean American Chain Come Along
This Bean chain twister is stamp-marked PAT. APLD. FOR [Patent Applied For] across one side of the T-handle, meaning it was made between 29 August 1882 and 6 May 1884. Of nickel plated steel. Again, note the larger ends links, indicative of its very early manufacture.

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Patent-marked Bean American Chain Nipper
This early, splendid Bean chain come along is stamp-marked PAT'D MAY 6 '84 across each side -- i.e., both sides -- of the T-handle. Of nickel plated steel, with virtually all the plating intact.

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American Chain Nipper With Bifurcated Handle
An early, unusual, seldom seen and scarce American chain come along of nickel plated steel. The receiving or retaining handle actually is of two separate, matched halves, connected by an inset stabilising block, secured by upper and lower rivets. In very fine condition.

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Chain Nipper With Cylindrical Crossbar
This mint condition twister has interesting features. The chain has large, oval end links. The retaining handle is folded at the bottom, comprising symmetrical, opposing halves. The horizontal section of the T-handle is perfectly cylindrical, not oval or flattened at all. It passes through a hole at the top of the concave vertical section, which has a corresponding hole at its bottom, receiving the chain. Plated steel construction.

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Geo. W. Harvey American Chain Come Along
The last patent (1,700,047) for an interlocking chain nipper was granted 22 January 1929 to George W. Harvey, of Medford, Massachusetts. The ergonomic finger grooves, or indentations, in the wide trough master handle provide a more secure grip. It was manufactured by the Iver Johnson Sporting Goods Company. The handles attach to the chain with clevises. Nickel plated steel. This early, scarce example, marked PATENT APPLIED FOR, predates the patent, the application for which was filed 12 May 1927.

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Early Baldwin American Chain Come Along
The first patent for a chain nipper, number 152,822, was issued 7 July 1874 to Alexander P. Baldwin of Newark, New Jersey. Baldwin's design had matching T-shaped handles which did not interlock. This example, in remarkably fine condition, also is exceptionally early, predating the patent, the application for which was submitted on 3 February 1874. One handle is marked JOS B & CO., for Joseph Baldwin & Co. This firm, operated by Baldwin's father, produced the nipper and also was a local manufacturer of saddlery hardware. The other handle is marked PAT APLD FOR.

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Baldwin American Chain Come Along
Another Alexander P. Baldwin chain nipper, made during the term of the patent, the grant for which was issued in 1874. Heavily nickel plated, with most of the plating still intact. One handle is marked JOS B & CO. The other handle is marked PATENT.

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Double Trough Tower Chain Nipper
Twin Trough Tower Twister. A rare John J. Tower chain come along with a double trough on the master handle. This design can be seen clearly in Figures 7, 8 and 9 of the patent drawings. The inserting, T-handle fit into either of the two troughs, depending upon into which side of the receiving, master handle the T-handle was placed. The design was useful to the extent the master handle lacked a well. This model shows virtually no well whatever in the master handle. With a deeper well, the side of the master handle into which the T-handle was inserted no longer mattered, obviating the benefit of a dual trough. This nipper is in excellent condition, showing little if any wear, with a beautifully aged patina. Adding to its rarity, yet even more to its interest, is the stamp-mark PAT'D MAY 6 '84 on the side of the T-handle. This is an error. The patent for the Bean, not the Tower, chain nipper was granted on that date; and, as can be seen above, the handles of the Bean nipper have completely different shapes. The patent for this Tower nipper was granted over a year earlier. Click here for a smaller version of the large, composite image. Click here to see the patent application drawings. Click here to see another Tower double trough chain twister, this one also incorrectly stamp-marked with the Bean patent date, PAT'D MAY 6 '84.

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Tower Wide Trough Chain Come Along
  
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Tower Wide Trough Chain Come Along
Two wide trough model Tower chain nippers. (The trough is the concave groove atop the master handle, into which the T-shaped handle is inserted to interlock the nipper.) Far more uncommon than the narrow trough model, the wide trough nipper provided a much securer grip. Nickel plated steel from the 19th Century.

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Tower chain nipper with non-bifurcated master handle
One and only one Tower twister version with an absolutely non-bifurcated master handle is known to have been made. This is that version. It is a wide trough model, yet the trough has no vertical division whatever. Note the larger end links and the relatively increased number, 21, of total connecting chain links. Of nickel plated steel and in about perfect, mint condition.

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Tower Chain Come Along with "Hips"
A substantial, sturdy and scarce early 1920s Tower chain nipper with "hips" atop the master handle. This innovation was designed to provide additional protection to keep the two handles interlocked, preventing them from separating. The master handle trough never was deepened on Tower chain nippers, as it was on German ones. This model is the closest approximation, raising the bridge rather than lowering the water. Nickel plated steel. See page 160 of Matthew G. Forte's American Police Equipment. Note the larger end links on the connecting chain.

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Harrington & Richardson Chain Come Along with Connecting Clevises
  
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Harrington & Richardson Chain Twister with Connecting Clevises
Two interesting Harrington & Richardson -- or just H&R, of Worcester, MA -- chain twisters, Model 126, each using clevises to attach the end links of the chain to the handles. Note the minor differences between the two master handles and the number of links in the chains. Nickel plated steel. Based upon the original Tower design. Click here to see a 1943 catalogue advertisement, showing a retail price of 75¢.

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Rare chain nipper with non-interlocking, upswept handles
Like the American Baldwin chain nipper and the chain and rope nippers of France, the handles of this nickel plated twister do not interlock. Most unusual are its upswept handles. The number of chain links is particularly high, too. It is an old and rare restraint, stamp-marked W.W on each end of the top of each approximately 3 1/2" width handle.

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Swiss chain nipper
From Switzerland, a rare and unusual chain nipper of nickel plated steel. The T-handle inserts into the master handle from one side only, similar to the Bean model. The master handle of this Swiss nipper is not quasi-flat, though. It essentially is a box in which the inserted T-handle rests -- incredibly securely -- and has flat, closed sides. The master handle is just shy of 4" width, which is fairly large. Both handles stamp-marked with the number 12; the T-handle, with DAUBENMEIER & MEYER over ZURICH. Daubenmeier & Meyer, Metallwarenfabrik (German for "metal working factory" or "metal wares factory"), were in business in Zurich from 1904 to 1921.

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1930s European Chain Come Along
  
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1930s European Chain Come Along
Two positively massive, Pre-World War II European chain nippers. Of nickel plated steel, the receiving or master handle is deeply U-shaped. Almost certainly of Dutch or Belgian origin, these pieces date to the 1930s. The one on the left is in near mint condition. The one on the right, an even larger version, is in excellent condition.

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1930s European Stamp-marked Come Along
Another 1930s, Pre-World War II European chain nipper of nickel plated steel with a deeply U-shaped master handle. This excellent to near mint condition chain twister is clearly stamp-marked.

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Early European Chain Nipper
A much earlier European chain nipper of nickel plated steel with a deeply U-shaped master handle. Unlike the preceding ones, the master handle trough is not curved with an upsweep, and the master handle does not have bevelled shoulders or ridges. The top of the T-handle is stamp-marked 713.

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French Come Along with Steel Handles
  
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French Come Along with Wooden Handles
French chain nippers are characterised most notably by braided coiled links. Seen in many differently configured shapes, handles were made both of steel and of wood. The one pictured on the left has steel handles. Both the handles and the chain are nickel plated. The one pictured on the right has smooth wooden handles. The chain is nickel plated steel. Beyond their use in France, they also were used in the French colonies, like Algeria and Morocco. (The French term is La Ligote or Le Cabriolet, which translates to "convertible binds".) These rare restraints are in excellent condition. Click here to see another steel-handled version.

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French Come Along with Wooden Handles
Another wooden-handled French chain nipper with braided coiled links of nickel plated steel. The chain come along with interlocking handles never caught on in France, despite its widespread to almost exclusive use in other countries, notably the United States and Germany. Clearly, character constitutes a considerable compensation. Click here to see two more, each in mint condition.

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French Rope Come Along with Wooden Handles
The earliest twisters had no chain links, employing rope or other cord between the handles, like this French rope twister with wooden handles. Wholly and readily biodegradable, these environmentally friendly come alongs tended towards reclamation by the elements over the years. Surviving specimens are scarce. This and the preceding versions are known to have been in use prior to 1894. Click here to see another well-preserved rope twister.

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French Chain Come Along with Aluminium Handles
This French chain nipper dates to the mid-20th Century. Each side of each aluminium handle is stamped S.N.A. DEPOSE. The chain is plated steel, of elongated links connected to the handles with circular links. S.N.A. are the initials of Société Nationale Armement, or, in English, National Armament Company.

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Early Clejuso Chain Come Along
An early, heavy, substantial chain twister by the German firm Clejuso -- Clemen & Jung, of Solingen, established in 1860. Of nickel plated steel, the chain and handles attach using clevises. This come along has developed a finely aged patina.

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German Version of Bean Chain Nipper
It is fairly well know the Germans adapted the Tower chain come along, perfecting it by widening and deepening the master handle trough and by adding curvature to the interlocking handles. These enhancements resulted in the most secure whilst still practical grip possible. Far less known, perhaps virtually unknown, is that the Germans also produced a version of the Bean chain come along. This version was more an adoption than an adaptation, the only alteration of note being an increase in size; the proportions essentially were maintained. Known German makers of the Bean chain come along included Joh. Fischer of Bremerhaven. Edward Bean, unlike John Tower, served as a police officer, and realised the advantage of a curved handle. The Germans quickly incorporated this important feature of chain nipper design, explaining why they did not alter Bean's pattern materially yet modified Tower's pattern substantially. This early, nickel plated steel example has attained, over time, a splendid, smooth patina and is in exceptionally fine condition.

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Kayser Chain Nipper with Leather Holder
Very few German chain twisters were marked. This one bears the Kayser firm's impressed K, and another stamp-mark in the shape of a shoe or a boot. Manacles of the World author Tom Gross writes, "It is known that the Kayser company was in business before 1945, but it is unknown exactly when production commenced or ended." Note the large circular end links connecting the chain to the handles. Of nickel plated steel, in very fine condition, together with its intact leather holder. (N.B. Kayser produced the highly prized Hamburg Eight, or Hamburg 8, handcuffs.)

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East German Chain Come Along
  
 
East German Chain Come Along
Formerly the property of the Ministry for State Security (Stasi, short for Ministerium für Staatssicherheit), each of these two different nickel plated steel East German chain twisters is an "hot piece" from the Cold War. (The German term is Knebelkette, which translates to "toggle chain".)

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East German Aluminium Chain Come Along
East German VoPo, or Volkspolizei, chain twister, this version has polished aluminium handles and elongated, ergonomically shaped plated steel links.

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East German Aluminium Chain Come Along
This East German chain twister is a transitional model. Whilst the plated steel handles have given way to polished aluminium ones, the link design remains traditional. Although the links themselves are longer and therefore correspondingly fewer, they are not as long or as few as are those of the immediately preceding model.

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East German Chain Come Along with Elongated Links
East German/DDR chain twister with handles and elongated links of plated steel.

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Leather holder for a police chain nipper
A flawless and faithful contemporary copy of the classic chain nipper leather holder, by Dell's Leather Works of Kingston, NY.

Jack Tanis, 614 Broome Street, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034-3837, USA
Telephone: 904.261.4628
e-mail

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