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Here are five two-fold twelve inch boxwood and brass rules with brass outside caliper inserts. The top two are Stanley No. 36 1/2, the middle one is a Lufkin No. 372 (36 1/2), and the bottom two are Upson No. 36 1/2. All five are in as-found condition – although a previous owner has heavily cleaned the bottom Upson.
I assembled these five to show how they vary slightly between brands and even one from the other. The two Stanleys show only one slight variation in construction – the brass face plates on the hinge on the top example are pinned through, whereas they are not pinned on the second example. There is slightly more variation in the design of the numerals, and the labeling on the two is quite different.
The Lufkin stands alone here – it is also and obviously a slightly poorer copy of the Stanley. It does have an intriguing innovation though – on the back (not shown in the pic) there is a notch cut right behind the top of the slide for the caliper that enables it to be opened with the flick of a fingernail.
Finally, the Upson pair… Upson rules have been seen as a poor cousin to Stanley, inferior in quality and design… I beg to differ with that view. A casual glance at these two Upson examples shows they are at least the equal of their stable mates. Their brass hinge face plates and end caps are longer, which improves durability in key areas of construction. The boxwood used by Upson is the equal of the Stanleys, and superior to the Lufkin. The incised markings and numerals are as clear and legible as the Stanleys, and superior to the Lufkin. The only Stanley feature that beats Upson is the brass plate into which the retaining pin that holds the legs together is inserted – Upson doesn’t have that feature.
Upson has been priced at a discount to Stanley for their comparable models. For someone interested in these beautiful tools, Upson presents a more cost-effective route to assembling a collection than Stanley.