The Winterthur Library

 The Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera

Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum

5105 Kennett Pike, Winterthur, DE  19735

302-888-4600 or 800-448-3883





Creator:         Shattuck, Aaron Draper (1832-1928)

Title:               Shattuck’s Patent Stretcher Key Collection

Dates:             1883-1972, bulk 1883-1917

Call No.:         Col. 814

Acc. No.:        07x125

Quantity:        5 boxes

Location:        11 H 3






The American artist Aaron Draper Shattuck was born in Francestown, New Hampshire, on March 9, 1832, the son of Jesse and Harriet Williams Shattuck.  A.D. Shattuck studied painting with Alexander Ransom in Boston and at the National Academy of Design in New York.  He was elected an associate member of the National Academy in 1856 and a full member in 1861; he specialized in landscapes and pastoral scenes.  Shattuck married Marian Coleman, sister of the artist Samuel Coleman, in 1860.  In 1870, they moved to a farm in Granby, Connecticut, where he died in 1926.  After becoming ill in 1888, he apparently ceased painting, but he made some violins.


As an artist, Shattuck was naturally interested in the stretchers used for holding canvases.  He devised a “key” to help hold stretcher rails together, while at the same time maintaining the tension needed on the canvases themselves, and was granted a patent in 1883.  F.W. Devoe & Co. of New York City distributed the keys, which were made at the foundry of the Malleable Iron Works in New Britain, Connecticut.  Other new inventions led to steadily declining sales, and this, coupled with the rising prices and manufacturing difficulties experienced during World War I, caused production to cease in 1917.  However, in its heyday, Shattuck’s stretcher key was a popular item and made him a nice profit. 


Jeremy R. (Jerry) Hutt was a great-grandson of Aaron Draper Shattuck.  He became interested in the Shattuck stretcher key because papers relating to the invention were passed down in his family.  He received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Lehigh University and a master’s degree in geophysics from Oregon State University.   W. T. (Tom) Chase was a conservator at the Freer Gallery at the time that he and Mr. Hutt wrote a paper about Shattuck.





Collection documents the manufacture and marketing of Aaron Draper Shattuck’s Patent Stretcher Key, a device designed to hold artists’ canvases properly stretched, both during the painting process and afterwards, and patented by Shattuck in 1883.  The collection includes copies of Shattuck’s American patents (he also took out patents in Great Britain, Germany, and France); manufacturing records of the Malleable Iron Works of New Britain, Connecticut; order records of the F.W. Devoe & Co., which later became the F.W. Devoe & C.T. Raynolds Co.; and some correspondence regarding marketing, production, and copyright infringement.  The collection includes some advertising and packaging material, blank order forms, and a notebook in which Shattuck recorded shipments made to F.W. Devoe & Co. and payments received.


Also with the collection are a number of the actual stretcher keys.  The key came in several sizes, and later ones were bronzed.  An assortment of sizes and some bronzed keys are included.  As well, some of the keys are still attached to casting bars, and one bar has a Malleable Iron Works tag tied to it.


Ion addition, the collection includes notes and drafts of an article written by Jeremy R. Hutt and W. T. Chase entitled “Aaron Draper Shattuck’s Patent Stretcher Key,” which appeared in Studies in Conservation, 17 (1972), 12-29.  The materials in this collection were used in researching the article. 





Most of the materials are in English; one patent is in French, and another is in German.





Collection is open to the public.  Copyright restrictions may apply.





The Archives of American Art holds additional Aaron Draper Shattuck papers.





Gift of Jeremy H. (Jerry) Hutt.






            F.W. Devoe & Co.

            Malleable Iron Works (New Britain, Conn.)

            Artists’ materials.

            Artists’ materials industry.

Canvas stretching.


Additional authors:   

Hutt, Jeremy R., 1941-

Chase, W. T. (William Thomas)





Location: 11 H 3



Box 1:


Folders 1-2     .1         Article: “Aaron Draper Shattuck’s Patent Stretcher Key,” by W. T. Chase and Jeremy R. Hutt

drafts for article about Shattuck’s patent stretcher key, published in Studies in Conservation 17 (1972): 12-29.  Includes photographs, notes, and various drafts of article


Folder 3:         .2         article: correspondence about article and research for article


Folder 4:         .3         miscellaneous correspondence, 1884-1917   

Includes Shattuck’s correspondence with F.W. Devoe & Co., Chas. M. Edwards, W. Jennings Demorest, C.Y.(?) Reynolds Co., and Malleable Iron Works.  The letters with Chas. M. Edwards concerned a possible patent infringement by Rawbone’s Keyless Stretcher.   A pamphlet about the Rawbone product is included, with notes in the hand of J. Drummond.  Shattuck’s correspondence with F.W. Devoe & Co. was with S. J. Fresney or Jas. F. Drummond. A couple of letters were faded, and Hutt used UV light to read them and make transcriptions. 


Folder 5:         .4         Shattuck’s price calculations for different sizes of keys, including costs of wooden cases and screws


Folder 6:         .5         list of people contacted about keys, February 15, 1888; probably Shattuck’s notes; includes name and brief address


Folder 7:         .6a-b    two fragments of a box which held no. 2 size of stretcher keys; the larger fragment includes directions for the use of the keys


                        .7         label or tag with picture showing placement of stretcher keys


                        .8         part of trade catalog for F.W. Devoe & Co., 1880s, includes ad for Shattuck’s stretcher key and price lists for stretchers with the keys and with or without canvas


Folder 8:         .9         letters of transmittal for checks sent to Shattuck from F.W. Devoe & Co. or F.W. Devoe & C.T. Raynolds Co., payment for keys sold, 1884-1899, 1912, 1916


Folder 9:         .10       orders for keys, addressed to Shattuck, from F.W. Devoe & Co. or F.W. Devoe & C.T. Raynolds Co., 1885-1917


Folder 10:       .11       Malleable Iron Works, New Britain, Conn.: invoices and statements, 1885, 1895-1899, 1911-1912, 1915-1917; and a memo of invoices from January 1884-April 1892


Folder 11:       .12       Blank order forms and invoices for purchases made by the F.W. Devoe & Co. or F.W. Devoe & C.T. Raynolds Co. from A. D. Shattuck, includes picture of stretcher keys in place


Folder 12:       .13       correspondence and invoices for supplies purchased by Shattuck from F.W. Devoe & Co. or F.W. Devoe & C.T. Raynolds Co., 1890-1891, 1898-1899


Folder 13:       .14       Patents:

                                    U.S., no. 272,162, to Shattuck 1883 (original and photocopy of printed version)

                                    U.S., no. 320,300, to Shattuck, 1885

                                    U.S., no. 367,672,  to Shattuck, 1887; in envelope of Patent Office; with a supplement to the Scientific Record, 1883, listing Shattuck as one who has been granted a patent; and a print of H. Bryant’s canvas stretcher patented in 1849

                                    German, no. 33,692, to Shattuck, 1885 (original and photocopy of printed version)

                                    British, no. 7304, to Shattuck, 1885 (two items)

                                    French, no. 169,580, to Shattuck, 1885 (two items, one of which is a printed drawing of the stretcher keys)

U.S., no. 335,480, to Joseph Loxton Rawbone for keyless canvas stretchers, 1886

U.S., no. 307,595, to Charles C. Shepherd, 1884, for clamps for frames, with diagram (photocopy)

U.S., no. 339,276, to C.F. Dodge, 1886, canvas stretcher, diagram only (photocopy)

U.S., no. 335,383, to F.P. Pfleger, 1886, stretcher frame for painting, diagram only (photocopy)

Envelope addressed to Shattuck, from A. M. Wooster, his patent attorney, 1887(?)


Folder 14:       .15       pages from a history of the Devoe and Raynolds Co., 1942, with information about James F. Drummond



Box 2:


Folder 1:         .16       A. D. Shattuck account book, with record of shipments and statements made to F.W. Devoe & Co., June 1884-Jan.1918, and a record of payments received from Devoe & Co., Oct. 1884-Jan. 1908


Folder 2:         .17       printing plate for A.D. Shattuck’s Patent Stretcher Key, showing 5 sizes of key and a diagram of keys in place on back of painting; also a bit of the plate which is broken off


Folder 3:         [no number]     Aaron Draper Shattuck, N.A., 1832-1928: A Retrospective Exhibition.  Organized and arranged by the New Britain Museum of American Art, 1970.

                        [gift of W. T. (Tom) Chase]



Boxes 3-4:


.18       actual stretcher keys, in various sizes