The trade name "YANKEE" screwdriver was first marketed by North Brothers Manufacturing Company in 1899, with the No. 30 spiral ratchet screw driver. YANKEE soon became and still is a well known name in automatic spiral ratchet screwdrivers, with several other models, and model improvements patented by North Bros. over a 40 year period. The term "YANKEE SCREWDRIVER" is often used to describe push/pull type screwdriver other than one manufactured by North Brothers Mfg. Co. or Stanley Tools, who purchase the rights to the well known YANKEE brand or trade name in the 1940's from North Brothers.Â North Brothers always marked the tools they manufactured with the YANKEE name, and in most cases the North Bros. name and location as well. To our knowledge, all spiral ratchet screwdriver models made by Stanley did have the YANKEE trade name on them, or at least until the 1960's when the HANDYMAN trade name became as well known as the YANKEE trade name, so Stanley Tools marked certain models with both the HANDYMAN and YANKEE brand name on them, and usually the Stanley name was on them as well.Â The HANDYMAN trade name was not limited to a line of screwdriver models, as the same name was marked on a complete line of planes, drills and other tools specifically marketed to the home user.
The picture above shows several different YANKEE brand screwdrivers or screwdriver/drills, All were made by either North Brothers (pre-1947), or Stanley Tools. Starting from the upper left, the No. 75 was designed for drilling small holes, up to about 1/4", and it will also drive small screws provided it is fitted with a tapered ended type brace bit with a screwdriver tip adapter. The model No. 75 was call a push brace, since it has a brace like chuck. Also, you can see it has an a concealed spiral shaft as it is fully extended. The spiral shaft and spiral mechanism is what makes the spiral system work, so when you push the handle in, the bit that is locked into the chuck turns in either the clockwise or counterclockwise motion depending on the setting of the slide switch on the side of the drill. Beginning second from the upper left is the No. 31A, No. 30A, No. 20, No. 135A, No. 35, No. 233H, & No. 133H.Â It is important to point out that there was more differences in each of the models than can be seen in the picture above.
Of the model number listed above, excluding the No. 75, there was 3 different size spring chucks, and therefore 3 different shank size tips or sometimes called points, to fit various models. Generally all tips made by North Brothers or Stanley were stamped with the corresponding number of the model screwdriver they would fit, but the stamped numbers are often difficult to see, so it's a good idea to know the size you need before you set out to find tips for your screwdriver. To try to simplify the smallest size was the number 35, so any of the model numbers with 35 in the number, like No. 135A is the smallest tip shank diameter, measuring 7/32" diameter shank. (all the handyman models with 33 in their model number also have the No. 35 size chucks, the smallest size tips). The middle size is the No. 30 size, and all numbers with the 30 in them have a chuck shank size of 9/32" diameter. The biggest size is the No. 31, and all numbers with 31 in them have a chuck diameter of 5/16" diameter. We do specify what the YANKEE shank size is on new old stock or used type we have for sale, so you can double check to see what size will fit your screwdriver.
The first patented spiral push drill or similar spiral screwdriver dates back to 1868 known as the Allard's patent, but since we have never been able to find one in existence, we assume that the 1868 patent was never manufactured in quantity. The earliest we have observed is the F. A. HOWARD patent, known to have sold in the U.S.A. in quantity. The beginning of production of the Howard screwdriver seems to have been in the early 1870's. Most of the first models patented are rare and hard to find. Although North Brothers was not the very first to patent the spiral type mechanism, they were not far behind in terms of years. Most models were designed and patented post 1900, and companies other than North Brothers joined in around 1920. Above is a picture of three different models manufactured by other companies, yet similar in some designs to the original YANKEE brand by North Brothers Mfg. Co..;
Above is a rare North Brothers No. 65 with the unique clip style tip, removed and shown in the left picture, in place to the right. This model was made by North Bros. from 1908 to 1946, Stanley did not continue this model. It originally had a total of 4 blade tips in different sizes. The missing ones are hard to find. Please let us know if you have any extras.;
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