I’m partial to Lancashire pattern calipers and have spent a number of years trying to build a complete set of sizes. However, I occasionally run across other unique designs that beg to be part of my collection. This week I want to share one such unique specimen with you that was made by the J. Stevens Arms & Tool Company of Chicopee Falls Massachusetts. However, I didn’t know it was a J. Stevens caliper when I placed my bid on this antique. I was bidding purely due to the reverse acting spring on top of the caliper. The standard caliper design from this and later eras uses a spring that pinches the caliper legs above the pivot point. If you look carefully at the picture below, the spring on this caliper pulls out on the legs below the pivot point, making this a truly unique design.
I don’t see many Stevens tools in my travels, and they command premium pricing when found. Joshua Stevens opened his doors in 1864, as a firearms manufacturer, and over time his company branched into other areas such as machine tools. Based on the imprinted company name (which changed through the years), my caliper was made sometime between 1886-1916 (see picture below).
Stevens arms is known for numerous models of pistols, rifles, and shotguns as well as developing the .22LR round which is a staple of shooting. Stevens is still around to this day under a merger with Savage Arms. Unfortunately, they don’t make beautiful machine tools anymore.