From research conducted by Ed Battison, founder of the wonderful American Precision Museum in Windsor, VT, this Wade lathe can be traced back to one Nathan Frederick English, who worked at Robbins and Lawrence during the 1850's and lived in Hartland, VT. He moved to Boston in 1866 and his design was advertised by a well-known machine-tool dealer of the time, although the brand name used is unknown. The design was, perhaps, inspired by his years spent at R&L looking at the bridge on planers. It is possible that, at some point after 1866, George Ballou became aware of this lathe for his is surprisingly similar - though perhaps more radical - with a wheel under the apron to raise and lower the saddle. It is not known when Edward Rivett (with his front-way 8-inch Precision) or Walter Wade (with the lathe below) became aware of this design but both must have been influenced by it for their machines - the Rivett 8-inch Precision and the Wade lathe shown below are so obviously similar.
Upon on close examination, the Wade publicity illustration below appears to have had numerous parts retouched. This was, and still is, frequently practiced (but now made much easier by "Photoshop", of course) and usually involved a greatly enlarged photographic print being worked on to make the changes. When it was finished a photograph was taken and this, in reduced form, used in brochure pictures. Thus, it is entirely possible that the Wade illustrated was never made in quite the form shown - look closely at greyed-out area at top and bottom of the dovetail--the artist has painted over the frosting. Perhaps this was for clarity, perhaps to hide a development or production change. A Mr Richardson, who worked at Wade for decades, reports that the company made a lot of one-offs, but this case is almost certainly not one of them. Whilst a relatively inexpensive exercise to alter a production machine , the one shown below is of a novel design and would have been enormously expensive to manufacture - added to which was the amount of time and trouble taken to prepare coloured plates and publicity material. It does seem as if this was a prototype for the 8A and at least a handful would have been made.
In addition to the Rivett 8-inch precision and later 608, other lathes that used the front or back (or both) faces of the bed include that of machine-tool pioneer Richards Roberts (a well-preserved example is in the London Science museum), the Pearce from New York, the English James Spencer, Birch and Rolls Royce, the unusual Porter-Cable and the Japanese Toyo ML1.
Between 1875 and 1887 Ballou registered a number of significant patents, as follows:
Gear-cutting device for lathes (this shows an aspect of the Ballou lathe)
Improvement in slide-rests for metal-turning lathes
Improvement in chucks and centerers
Drilling-fixture for lathes
Work-clamp for slide-lathes