the Record 52 1/2 vice – a timeline

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Here is a short summary of the history of the Record 52 1/2 vice. You can read more about this vice here and more detailed information on the other vices mentioned can be found here


Wilson Riley and and an unknown inventor working for Smith, Marks & Co applied to patent two different quick-release (QR) vices in 1877. Both inventors were living in Keightley, Yorkshire.

Riley’s invention was purchased by Entwisle and Kenyon and marketed as the ‘Lightening Grip’ vice. The same design was produced by Massey under license for the US Market.

Smith, Marks & Co handled manufacturing and the vices were sold by Thomas Syer of London who marketed it as the Standard Instantaneous Grip vice.

The vices were both successful enough to warrant a glowing write-up in Francis Young’s seminal work Everyman His Own Mechanic (1881).

You can read more about Entwisle and Keynon’s Lightening Grip vice here and the Syer’s Instantaneous Grip vice here


After one of his customers starts making a copy of his ‘Handy’ range of vices, Joseph Parkinson invents a new quick-release mechanism and files for a patent to protect it. He calls his new range of vices the ‘Patent Perfect’ range.

Vices based on his design are still made today.
more on Parkinson’s invention here

WC Toles, an American inventor, patents a new QR mechanism and launches the first home grown USA quick release vise of note. It is of interest because it is one of the earliest QR vices to use steel rods rather than cast iron sliders. The vice competes with the Massey version of the E&K vice in the US market.

Read more about the Toles vice here and vices made by a their US competitor Wilcox.


C&J Hampton release their first vice: a copy of Parkinson’s (which is no longer protected by his patent) and give them the trade name of ‘Record’.

More about the vice that became the world famous Record 52 1/2 can be found here


C&J Hampton release their improved version, retaining the Parkinson quick release mechanism but incorporating steel rods rather than cast iron sliders. Although they have borrowed the idea of the rods, they take the precaution of registering a design patent and casting the design number into the front of the casting.


C&J Hampton introduce the ‘screw and nut cover’ (this is a metal cover that extends the length of the screw, preventing sawdust and shavings dropping on the thread). Vices that included the cover were given an ‘A’ post-fix. These models were about 10% more expensive than the standard vices)


C&J Hampton apply to patent a “sawduster excluder plate” (see the plate with the blue and yellow sticker on it in the picture on the right) At the same time they also introduced a removable housing for the the half nut and changed the position of the spring (moving it from under the half nut to the inside face of the front jaw). Around this time C&J Hampton introduce a new range of bench planes and extended the use of their trade name ‘Record’ to cover these too.


C&J Hampton’s registered design patent expired in 1933, but it is likely that they continued to use castings with the number embossed on them for some period after that (possibly because they were working through old stock of castings). At some point in the 1930s they introduced a transitional casting with the RD number removed.

Record 52 1/2 1940s


Record redesigned the front jaw casting once again, removing the space previously reserved for the RD number. This version of the vice was the pinnacle of Record’s vice designs and remained unchanged until the 1960s.


The final version of C & J Hampton’s woodworker’s vices that they would produce as an independent company was introduced in 1963. The range included a number of changes that, although billed as improvements, would doubtless have resulted in the reduction of manufacturing costs.


The current owners of the Record brand (Irvin) continue to make a version of the QR vice, although it is a pale imitation of the versions made in the 30s, 40s and 50s. Countless companies have made copies of the design over the years. Some of the high quality versions are by Parkinson, Toga (Bucks and Hickman), Rededa, Paramo, Marples, Woden. The modern copies (Irvin Annant, York, Dawn etc), although functional, are made to a comparably low standard to keep the price down.

15 thoughts on “the Record 52 1/2 vice – a timeline”

  1. hello,

    Do you think the Dawn Tools company of Australia should be part of the story? — unlike some of the other recent Record etc copies, they started a long time ago – celebrated their centenary of vice, clamp making in 2017, so started after some of the UK patents were over. I’m not sure if they still make the quick release version, but it was just like the Record, with Parkinson-type nut, bar, spring etc. They definitely still make woodworking 7″, 9″ and 10″ vices and state that nearly all their range is actually made in Australia.


  2. thanks – I did not know that Dawn went back such a long way.

    There is a John Danks catalogue published during the war that shows a Dawn QR vice that appears to be a copy of the Record model of that era. It would be very interesting to know what their original models were like in 1917…

    dawn QR vice

  3. Could somebody explain me how one can mount that 1932 style vice? I have bought one, but the arc-like bevel on the back of the non-moving jaw makes it a bit tricky, I think. With that thing it seems to be hard to mount it under the bench.

    • if you mean the ribs that strengthen the rear part then you can just pack out the underside of the bench with some offcuts – see below


  4. Thanks.
    I will show you how I advance, but for the moment I have other projects, and I also have to clean the vice and rub off loads of older paint, because it looks like somebody poured blue acrylic paint on it in random thickness. Looks terriific. I plan to repaint with blue hammerite, probably it is the closest color to the original one.

  5. Done. It turned out to be black at the end, because the quality of the paint was much better than the blue that I’ve found in local stores. The bench is only a really quick and dirty emergency build.




  6. Hi,

    Great article, really interesting!

    I just picked up a Record 52 1/2 on ebay, which I think is the 1930s model (has the dust shield and RD number on the front?).

    At the far end of the vice there isn’t a split pin and washer, but instead what looks like a random bit of metal that someone has hammered into the hole where the split pin should have gone. There’s a really tiny amount protruding from the hole, but enough that it seems to stop the end cap falling off.

    Could you tell me if my assumption of a washer and split pin is correct? I’d like to drill the hole out and make it good.



    • yes Darren, at the end of the vice there should be a cap to keep the two rods parallel (cast iron on the old vices, steel plate on the newer ones), then a washer held in place by a cotter pin that goes through a hole in the end of the screw


  7. Great info in this article! I am a cabinetmaker very interested in early woodworking vises. While in pursuit of an Emmert I stumbled across a nice W.C. Toles No. 20 with only the early 1894 Pat. It seems like the above article suggests they weren’t made until 1898 with the second patent. Your link does bring me to the 1894 patent so I am confused as to when the vise was first released. According to they were producing (the No. 20) in 1894. Once I got the bug I have been trying to collect each of the different Toles vises. While the No. 20, 50, and 60 are similar with zero, one and two jaw dogs, the No. 30 is unique. It is a Rapid Acting Tail vise. Here is a link to a few photos of my No. 30
    I have not found ANY info about this vise, the only No. 30 listed in a catalog was NOT this vise! Any idea where I could find more info, or anyone interested in Toles vises in general. Also, still looking for the other W.C. Toles vises!

    • Thanks Jason, and apologies for the mistake on the patent date (now corrected). I have never seen a no 30 nor come across any catalogues that show it I’m afraid. All of the Toles vices seem to be very high quality, but unfortunately rather rare in the UK.

  8. Found this page very interesting read and has give me a greater knowledge of the record Vices
    on the third time of reading I noticed that you have used photos of one of the Vices I sold on eBay version 2a
    Is it the same history for the 52 7” vice

  9. I have a record W90 with made in South Africa on it. It’s a qr version and very large and heavy. I have restored it and it works very well. It has the sawdust cover on the screw. I’m wondering if anyone knows when record was made in South Africa and what the approx date of the manufacture is?


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