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Hibernia Lathe

With a centre height of around 3 inches and a capacity between centres of perhaps 15 inches, the "Hibernia" was typical of the lightweight, foot-treadle-powered lathes made in great numbers from around 1850 to 1900. Intended for use by amateurs, these lathes were notable for the use of a headstock where the spindle ran in a bearing at the front with support at the other end by an adjustable, hardened centre. If the Hibernia was made by a company called Hibernia, or just badged by a dealer, is not known. Happily, the only known example has survived in original, unmodified form with its hand T-rest and even the correct type of contemporary 3-jaw chuck.
Also widely manufactured in continental Europe and the USA, this type of lathe could be fitted with a screw-feed compound slide rest when, with some considerable effort, patience and razor-sharp tools, the turning of metals became possible. Unfortunately, as the cost of the slide rest was usually an additional 30 to 40% on the price of the lathe - few were sold. Although very restricted in what they could achieve, small numbers of the type continued to be made until WW2, two notable examples being George Hatch of London, whose lathes continued to appear in the hard-back books issued by tool suppliers until the late 1930s, and Goodell-Pratt in the United States, their machines being made until around 1939 and sold in the United Kingdom branded as "
Makers of these lathes in the UK were either established machine-tool manufacturers, with a range of models, or what might be described as "jobbing engineers" who, in slack times, might turn their hand to the making of a small batch for sale either directly from their factory or to the order of a large machine-tool merchant. Known builders of the type included Britannia, F.Pratt, J.Buck, W.Gale, Selig Sonnenthal, Jarratt, S.Holmes, Goodwin, Arthur Frith and Pfeil - the latter a maker of better-than-usual quality with many examples surviving. Occasionally boundaries of the type are blurred, with some versions fitted with a useful slow-speed backgear (though that involved using a pair of headstock bearings in place of the rear-point type) or built to a much higher standard as a "bench-precision" type, an example being those by J.Buck of London, a maker of high-class machinery..