A recognised, high-class toolmaker, Joseph Buck was a resident of London. His lathes are very rare with the ones shown below being the only known survivors. Verging on being included in the "Bench Precision" class - a listing of these can be found here - this type of lathe was first made in the United States by Stark, with first examples being built by John Stark personally in 1862, well before any of his subsequent competitors who were all mostly from the same Waltham area, once a centre for high-precision engineering and clock and watch manufacture. Looking to have been built from as early as the 1860s, the Buck design, and types of a similar arrangement from other makers, continued to be made (in decreasing numbers) into the 1950s. Today the only surviving maker is Schaublin, in Switzerland, who continue manufacture of their 70 and 102 models.
27 inches long, with a centre height of 3.5 inches and taking 12.75 inches between centres, the lathe was typical for its time in the light class with the spindle running in a single front bearing with the other end supported against an adjustable, hardened steel point, with drive by a round leather "gut" rope running over a 4-step V-pulley in bronze. Also typical for the time, the outer face of the largest diameter being equipped with three circles of division holes - almost certainly ones with as many useful factors as possible e.g. 120, 100 and 36. Held to the bed by the usual through-bolt with a large handle, the compound slide rest, in cast iron, showed some signs of quality with its adjustable gib blocks in bronze and the body of the toolpost in the same material. However, in other respects the lathe mirrored contemporary practice in having flimsy end plates supporting the outer ends of the feed screws, awkward-to-use crank handles and, of course, no micrometer dials.
Lower down the page are typical, lightly-built examples of the Buck lathe from Victorian times mounted on treadle stands with flywheel drive. For the amateur class these were especially well-built, expensive machines, constructed from high-quality materials and assembled with great care.
Lathes of a similar but even lighter type from the same era (or ones made later into the 1920s as less-expensive machines), include various models branded by the well known and popular makers and distributors Pfeil and George Hatch, the German Wisser Company, the less common Scott-Homer, Hayward, Rolfe and various models of the interesting and rather specialised Swiss/English Mandrel and even a miniature version, the.Drummond Little Goliath
Should any reader have a Buck lathe or details of the Company, the writer would be interested to hear from you.