As part of this survey of the history of the quick-release woodworker’s vice, Richards Wilcox of Illinois deserves an honourable mention for their clever design.
Before Wilcox was purchased by Richards in 1910 they produced a continuous screw vice. The newly formed company created an improved version that featured a simple and rather elegant gravity-fed quick release mechanism and was clearly very well made. They patented the mechanism in 1912:
Rather than try and explain how it works you can see for yourself in video below where someone in the US does a good job of demonstrating the mechanism it uses:
According to this advert from 1913 the nut was made from phosphor bronze. This material reduced friction and allowed Richards Wilcox to advice their customers to ‘use no oil on screw’.
This is a great advantage since one of the weaknesses of most QR designs is that any lubrication of the screw attracts dust and shavings which – if they are allowed to build up – can interfere with the mechanism. Unfortunately phosphor bronze is also quite soft and consequently some of the surviving examples are broken or worn beyond repair. Still, this an excellent vice if you can find one.