Other Interesting Planes

AMERICAN MITRE AND RABBET PLANES

Early iteration of the Bailey no. 9 cabinet makers block plane (or pianomaker’s mitre plane). This one has the Aug 31, 1858 patent date. It’s not hard to see why Bailey changed the handle. From Quiet Corner Antiques.

L. Bailey mitre plane, as advertised in A. J. Wilkinson & Co., Boston catalogue c 1867. The earliest advertisement I have seen for this plane was in Bliven & Meade's 1864 N.Y. catalogue.

L. Bailey mitre plane, as advertised in A. J. Wilkinson & Co., Boston catalogue c 1867.  Bailey’s mitre plane was also included in the earlier Bliven, Mead & Co. 1864 New York catalogue.

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Lie Neilsen No. 9 plane, with the original in the background.

Lie Nielsen’s No. 9 plane is longer, with a sole 10 7/8″ long, as compared with the 9″ long c. 1900 Stanley shown here.  Its also more massive, and looks to be more robust as compared with the original body casting, which can be prone to cracking at the rear, where the handle is attached.   When the top fixing screw for the Stanley No. 9’s adjustable front sole piece is driven too tight, the casting can also crack on the sides, right above the adjustable front sole.  While this example does not suffer from these problems, the Lie Neilsen is the one I go to first: it cuts wood very well, with no worries about breakage.  It is, however, a rather big rig–14″ if you include the handle attachment–the user made handle is slightly oversized, in order to push the plane more easily.

William C. Scott mitre plane. Apparently, there were at least two sizes of this plane, this one is 9" long, with a two" iron. Others were 8 5/8' inches with a 1 3/4" iron.

William C. Scott mitre plane, made at 204 Clinton St., Cincinnati, Ohio, with German silver shield or crest inlaid into the rosewood front infill. Apparently, there were at least two sizes of this plane, this one is 9″ long, with a 2″ iron. Others were 8 5/8″ with a 1 3/4″ iron.

William C. Scott’s mitre, to my knowledge, was the only production infill mitre plane made in 19th century U.S.A. outside of  New York state.  Like the New York makers of pianomaker’s planes, Scott found his inspiration from the infill planemakers of Great Britain.  Unlike the New York makers, Scott was not influenced by the box mitre designs but rather by profiles with more fluid lines.  The smaller versions of this plane resemble an oversized Irish chariot plane. In the relatively small number of these planes that have surfaced, there is much variation; Scott’s casting designs were constantly tweaked and changed.  Its fairly obvious that William Scott enjoyed playing around with his designs, because for usefulness and practicality reasons, it certainly was not necessary.

Carpentry and Building magazine, September, 1886.

Carpentry and Building magazine, September, 1886.

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Two W. C. Scott mitre planes, 9″ long with L. & I. J. White 2″ iron in back and 8 3/8″long with D. R. Barton 1 3/4″ iron in front. The smaller plane has “Scott” inscribed roughly embossed, inside the plane as part of the casting. A steel sole was sweated onto the bronze body.

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Scott mitre with L. & I. J. White iron, 8″ long. Similar to the plane shown above, but with some differences in the lines of the casting. Photo from Martin Donnelly Auctions, c. 2002.

Scott mitre plane with replacement infills. EAIA Journal 2015

Scott mitre plane with replacement infills. EAIA website c 2015 Plane is stamped by ‘C. Fielding’ in a wave pattern. Some of you may notice that the signed Gabriel mitre shown further down on this page was also stamped by C. Fielding. It is fairly common that when a collector passes away, the heirs place the tools up for auction to be returned to the collecting community.

W.C. Scott mitre.

Baldwin Piano Factory, c 1920. While Scott's mitre plane predated the introduction of Baldwin pianos by four years(1890), chances were good that a few Scott mitres were used therein.

Baldwin Piano Factory, c 1920. While Scott’s mitre plane predated the introduction of Baldwin pianos by at least four years (1890), chances were good that a few Scott mitres were used therein.

By 1886, D. H. Baldwin’s potential work force of skilled craftpeople was already established in the Cincinnati area, and besides, Baldwin was not the first pianomaker in southern Ohio.  Frank Renfrow, a longtime piano specialist in the Cincinnati area, documented the following local pianomakers from 1825 to 1880: Charters, Garish, Golden, Reuss, Strange, Clark, Bourne, Smith & Nixon, Blackburn, Britting, Dannrechtin, Schaunel, Wardrogen, and Chase, among others.

Popping mitre. Photo probably from Martin Donelly auctions.

Popping mitre. Photo probably from Martin Donnelly auctions c. 2004.

NY style (looks like cast iron) mitre plane with interesting infill and lever cap. Maker unknown.

NY style (looks like cast iron) mitre plane with interesting infill and lever cap. Maker unknown, but similar to Buchhop plane shown below..  Photo from Donnelly auctions 2015.

A FANCY CABINET MAKERS MITRE PLANE by Henry Buchhop, New York, New York. This plane is nicely appointed with a brass locking screw for the cap and a rounded brass washer to secure the throat adjustment. It retains its full cutting iron by Shepherd Brothers and and is in excellent collector quality condition. Henry Buchhop was listed as a cabinetmaker in the 1867 New York City Directory, living at 133 Sixth Avenue. In 1872, he was listed at 147 Avenue A. In 1878 he had moved to 458 W. 50th Street, where he worked as a cabinetmaker. He worked as a cabinetmaker in New York City throughout his life. The plane is marked with the designation "H. Buchhop" on the bridge. Its unique configuration suggests that Buchhop may have made it himself." Martin Donelley auctions, April 2016.

“A FANCY CABINET MAKERS MITRE PLANE by Henry Buchhop, New York, New York. This plane is nicely appointed with a brass locking screw for the cap and a rounded brass washer to secure the throat adjustment. It retains its full cutting iron by Shepherd Brothers and and is in excellent collector quality condition. Henry Buchhop was listed as a cabinetmaker in the 1867 New York City Directory, living at 133 Sixth Avenue. In 1872, he was listed at 147 Avenue A. In 1878 he had moved to 458 W. 50th Street, where he worked as a cabinetmaker. He worked as a cabinetmaker in New York City throughout his life. The plane is marked with the designation “H. Buchhop” on the bridge. Its unique configuration suggests that Buchhop may have made it himself.” Martin Donnelly auctions, April 2016.

Erlandsen rabbet. Photo from ebay.

Erlandsen rabbet, earlier pinned construction. Photo from ebay.

ORGAN BUILDER’S PLANES

A very rare and early organ pipe makers combination voicing plane, a steel soled brass mitre plane with rosewood infill and wedge 10" x 2 1/4" used for thinning the surface of the tin or lead alloy sheets used for the metal organ pipes, the iron can be changed to the vertical position and becomes the thicknessing plane (see SAL p287) when vertical the iron is held firm by the front infill being tightened with a brass screw, chip to wedge, most unusual. From David Stanley auctions, Sept, 2014.

“A very rare and early organ pipe makers combination voicing plane, a steel soled brass mitre plane with rosewood infill and wedge 10″ x 2 1/4” used for thinning the surface of the tin or lead alloy sheets [spotted metal] used for the metal organ pipes, the iron can be changed to the vertical position and becomes the thicknessing plane (see SAL p287) when vertical the iron is held firm by the front infill being tightened with a brass screw, chip to wedge, most unusual.” –From David Stanley auctions,Sept., 2014.

View of the Great windchest, showing pipes made variously of lead, tin, copper and spotted metal. This is the organ’s primary division and stands at the top of the case immediately behind its facade of polished tin 8′ Principal pipes. From http://upcch.org/music/sanctuary-organ/

“View of the Great windchest, showing pipes made variously of lead, tin, copper and spotted metal. This is the organ’s primary division and stands at the top of the case immediately behind its facade of polished tin 8′ Principal pipes.”  From  http://upcch.org/music/sanctuary-organ/

Organ builder's mitre/panel plane, 18" long. From ebay, 2013.

Organ builder’s mitre/panel plane, 18″ long. From ebay, 2013.

ENGLISH  PLANES

Including George Buck, tool supplier to the piano trade as well as others.

Norris-made Buck planes, c. 1908.

George Buck ad in “Modern Practical Joinery” by George Ellis, 1908. They offered bow drills, planes, tuning, voicing, and regulating tools to the piano trade. In planes, they carried the revered Norris line, but they put their own attractive mark on their tool merchandise. George Buck has carried other infill plane makes during their long tenure in business, including Towell, Spiers, Holland, Slater, and Miller.  I have a signed George Buck tuning hammer with a previous mark filed off, quite probably R. Reynolds, who provided Buck with most of his specialized piano tools.

George Buck (1805-1865)

George Buck (1805-1865)

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Buck dovetailed mitre plane, 242 Tottenham Court Road, London. Most likely made by Norris; bed, iron, and wedge all have the typical matched fitting numbers. Post 1880, as Buck occupied 242 Tottenham Court Road from 1880 to 1930.  Norris discontinued their number 10 mitre plane before publication of their 1914 catalogue, and I think this Buck mitre is a variant of Norris no. 10.

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Convex bridge, with Cupid’s bow.

Earlier version of the Buck mitre, 245 Tottenham Court Road, probably circa 1862-66, when the address was actually 245-247 Tottenham Court Road. The stamp is otherwise the same as the other Buck mitre, with similar features, including the convex bridge, which was a characteristic of the few Norris mitres with wedges rather than lever caps. The bridge is less convex than the later mitre, but it is still noticeable. Both Patrick Leach and Tony Murland believe this type of mitre plane was most likely made by Norris.

Closeup of bridge.

Convex bridge from same type of Buck mitre plane, showing address of 247 Tottenham Court Road, circa 1867 to 1879. Photo from internet source.

Buck mitre plane, 245 Tottenham Court Road. This mitre is much earlier, dating from the late 1830s to the 1840s. 245 Tottenham was George Buck's address from 1838 to 1861, but his plane was made by Robert Towell, who ceased making planes sometime in the 1840s.

Buck mitre plane, 245 Tottenham Court Road. This plane is much earlier, dating from the late 1830s to the 1840s. 245 Tottenham was George Buck’s address from 1838 to 1861, but this mitre was made by Robert Towell, who ceased making planes sometime in the 1840s.  Its also very similar, if not identical to the one used to plane spotted metal for organ pipes at G. Fincham Organ Builders.

Two Buck thumb planes, both made by Norris. In the foreground is no. 32, and in the background is no. 31.

Two Buck thumb planes, both made by Norris. In the foreground is no. 32, and in the background is no. 31.

“The Metal Thumb Plane, English type …is 5 in. long, and …1 1/4 in. wide [cutter]; it has a long cutter, which answers for a handle, and is secured with a gun-metal screw lever.  It is, I believe, a specialty of Mr. George Buck, whose address will be found in the advertisement pages of this book.”  From “Modern Practical Joinery,” by George Ellis, 1908.

Adjustable version of no 32 in Norris' 1930 catalogue.

Adjustable version of no 32 in Norris’ 1930 catalogue.  “For model and Violin Bow Makers.”  Norris thumb planes were also marketed towards workers in the pianoforte industry.

Scottish chariot plane, mid 19th century. Its actually closer in design to Spiers and Norris thumb planes, with the throat opening well back of the nose of the plane. Scottish chariots of this type likely influenced Stewart Spiers when he made his first thumb planes.

Norris no. 28 chariot plane, sold and marked by Mitchell, a British dealer. "Patent Metal" stamped on bridge.

Norris no. 28 chariot plane, sold and marked by Mitchell, a British dealer. “Patent Metal” stamped on bridge.

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Badger & Galpin smooth plane, c. 1852. Elias Galpin of London was listed in the 1851 British census as a Pianoforte maker–as well as in subsequent census rolls. Several British planemakers were involved in the piano industry.

 

INSTRUMENT MAKERS PLANES

At a certain point, the sizes of small piano makers planes and large instrument makers planes begin to overlap. J. Popping shoulder plane, smallest size and 3″ ovoid, 19th century

At a certain point, the sizes of small piano makers planes and large instrument makers planes begin to overlap. J. Popping shoulder plane, smallest size 4″ long with 1/2″ iron, and 3″ ovoid instrument plane, French type, 19th century.

Instrument maker's plane for large stringed instruments, in a very old style, and slightly compassed violin maker's plane with applied sole.

Instrument maker’s plane for large stringed instruments, in a very old style, and slightly compassed cello and bass maker’s plane with applied sole.

Early instrument planes, from the 16th to 18th century, made of iron stock, brazed together in ovens:

 

Stradivari compassed iron plane

Compassed iron plane, used and owned by Antonio Stradivari.  One of several of this type in his possession.

Stradivarius viola. From Newsweek.

Stradivarius viola. Photo from Newsweek.

Diderot

Diderot, volume 5, plate 18. “Music instrument making, works and tools.” Circa 1767,  Picture includes violins, violas, a clamped up bass, harps, organ pipes, a 17th century guitar, a lute, virginal, and hurdy gurdy.  A luthier is working on the face of a violin or viola, with a hand plane.

Early instrument plane. Jim Bode tools

Early instrument plane. Jim Bode tools

16th to 18th century 3 1/4" instrument makers plane. Wrought with brazed on sole.

16th to 18th century 3 1/4″ instrument makers plane. Wrought iron with brazed on sole.  There’s a couple of capitol letters inscribed on the side, looks like ‘CR.’

17th to 18th century block plane, 4" long.

17th to 18th century block plane, 4″ long.  The old craftsmen had copper brazing alloys which would melt at different temperatures, which would enable multi-step assembly of components.  In this case, we have the U-shaped body, a separate front piece, a cross-pin, and the sole.

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Brazed dovetail in rear of plane.

Inscription--looks like 'Jones' to me.

Inscription–looks like ‘Jones’ to me.

Mortised and brazed French block plane, 4 1/4 inches long. 17th century. No. 802 in "Antique Woodworking Tools," by David Russell.

Mortised and brazed French block plane, 4 1/4 inches long. 17th century. No. 802 in “Antique Woodworking Tools,” by David Russell.

Early iron instrument plane. Iluthier.com c 2005

Early iron instrument plane. Iluthier.com c 2005

Early instrument plane. Iluthier.com c 2005

Early instrument plane. Iluthier.com c 2005

Early instrument plane. Iluthier.com c 2005

Early instrument plane. Iluthier.com c 2005

Early instrument plane. Iluthier.com c 2005

Early instrument plane. Iluthier.com c 2005

Early instrument plane. Iluthier.com c 2005

Early instrument plane. Iluthier.com c 2005

Early instrument plane. David Stanley Auctions. c 2014

Early instrument plane. David Stanley Auctions. c 2014

Early instrument plane. From David Stanely Auctions c 2014

Early instrument plane. From David Stanley Auctions c 2014

19th and 20th Century Instrument Makers Planes

Large instrument plane ~3" Blanchard, Paris

Large cast instrument plane ~3″ Blanchard, Paris  From Ebay c 2015

Large instrument plane. Iluthier.com c 2005

Large instrument plane, probably early 19th century. Iluthier.com c 2005

Large 2 1/4" Preston violin plane, c. late 19th, early 20th century. The iron is bedded on what looks to be rosewood infill. Clever design arrangement for the lever cap screw, and much copied today.

Large 2 1/4″ Preston violin plane, c. late 19th, early 20th century. The iron is bedded on what looks to be rosewood infill. Clever design arrangement for the lever cap screw, and much copied today.

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Diderot, volume 5, plate showing stringed instrument components and three ovoid shaped violin planes. By the 1760s, luthier planes had developed into the basic design that is still used today.

A couple of 20th century instrument planes, 3" sole.

A couple of 20th century instrument planes, 3″ soles.  Gewa plane on the right.

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Radiused and compassed violin plane bronze, with tail handle. In the style of those offered by Hammacher Schlemmer c. 1880-1920. Flat-soled instrument maker’s plane, similar profile, with rosewood infill.

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c. 1903.

EARLY MITRE PLANES

Early mitre plane, 18th century or earlier, with sole extending beyond the perimeter of the plane body, and mouth aperture placed towards the middle of the sole. A similar plane was shown in Seiver’s “Il Pianoforte; Guida Pratica…” which described methods of piano manufacturing before the introduction of steam and electric power. Obviously, with an extended sole, these early mitre-type planes were not used with a shooting board on theirs sides. It underscores the notion that mitre planes had many uses, as described further on the piano planes page of this website.

Illustrations of a workbench and a range of wooden bench planes, as shown in Siever’s “Il Pianoforte…” In figure 21 we see s box mitre plane with a sole proud of the body, and a similar front handle to the plane shown above.

Early bronze mitre plane. ?

Early bronze mitre plane, Bill Carter, planemaker’s website.  Dated 1752.

15th century iron plane, from Cincinnati Art museum

15th century iron plane, from The Cleveland Museum of Art.

Early iron mitre plane, with acanthus leaf hold. David Stanley auctions. c 2014

Early iron mitre plane, with acanthus leaf hold. David Stanley auctions. c 2013.

Early iron mitre plane

Early iron mitre plane or vergatthobel .

Early mitre plane. David Stanley Auctions. c 2014

Early 19th century French instrument maker/mitre plane. For bow making, among other things. This example had a toothing iron.  David Stanley Auctions. c 2014

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Bow makers plane, large at 6″ length, with 1 1/16″ iron. Reinforced heel, mahogany wedge, and cast body.

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Large, heavy 18th century low angle instrument makers plane, 8 3/8″ long and 2 1/8″ wide. Later I & H Sorby iron, with ash wedge, probably original.  Rear infill is shimmed with thick papers full of very old French script.   Body is made of thick wrought iron stock, a 1/4″ sole, brazed together, with pillar and pin construction. Formerly in Russell collection, no. 810. Found in Allier area of France, which includes the town of Jenzat: a center for hurdy-gurdy making. Famous hurdy-gurdy makers there include Pajot, Tixier, Pimpard, Decante, and Nigout.

Hurdy Gurdy made by Pajot, Allier, France. Circa 1880s. Photo from http://www.music-treasures.com/antmisc.htm

Hurdy Gurdy made by Pajot, Allier, France. Circa 1880s. Photo from http://www.music-treasures.com/antmisc.htm

Rear view of planes, showing reinforced heels, Foreground: doubled on the interior. Background: doubled on the interior.

Rear view of planes, showing reinforced heels, Foreground: doubled on the interior. Background: doubled on the exterior.

“The instrument-making centre of Jenzat draws the attention of musicologists because of the high quality of the work, and the makers’ specialization in a single instrument, namely the hurdy-gurdy. This heritage has long since aroused the interest of museums.

In 1959, Mr. Favière, the curator of the Bourges Museum, wished to set up two glass-cabinets devoted to hurdy-gurdies in the Montluçon Museum; to do so, he requested the aid of Mr. J.-A. Pajot, Maison Pajot Jeune at Jenzat.

As early as 1960, an important collection had already been made by the Musée National des Arts et Traditions Populaires in Paris, as a result of several visits Georges-Henri Rivière, the curator of the museum, had paid to Mr. Pajot, and of the inquiries made in 1959 by two MNATP musicologists, Claudie Marcel-Dubois and Marguerite Pichonnet-Andral, research workers at the CNRS.

In 1984, an exhibition prefiguring the Jenzat Museum was financed by the Mission du Patrimoine Ethnologique of the Ministère de la Culture. In 1986, the foundation of the Maison du Luthier-Musée allowed the acquisition of a very important collection of tools (see the hurdy-gurdy workshop), through a donation by Jacques and Hélène Pajot, and as a consequence of the inquiries (1983-1984) made by Jean-François Chassaing, an ethnologist.

In 1991, the city of Montluçon bought a collection of tools from Mr. Boudet, an instrument maker, for its own museum ; originally, these tools were part of the Pajot Jeune collection.

After 1935, the major part of the tools for musical instrument making belonged to the Maison Pajot Jeune, for at the time their workshop was the last one still in operation in Jenzat. From 1991 on, the collections have been shared out among the museums of Paris (MNATP), Montluçon and Jenzat. The tools have been shuffled and reshuffled and dealt out, some coming from the Pimpard workshop, some from the Nigout workshop, others from the Tixier workshop, others again from the J.-B. Pajot workshop. Only a close study of the various items can result in finding out the identity of their original owners.

The Jenzat Museum has started research in this field, as well as in others concerning the circulation of hurdy-gurdies, the trade and restoration of the instruments, the use of certain specific tools, such as the Keyboard-rulers.”

Jean-François Chassaing from  http://maison-luthier-jenzat.fr/le-musee/

Early bronze mitre plane. ?

Early bronze mitre plane.
Dated 1739 and was the earliest known mitre plane that was made in England Early mitres were made in Continental Europe: Germany, France, and Italy.  Sold at David Stanley 2012 auction for 7,500 GBP.

Early iron mitre plane. David Stanley Auctions. c 2014

Early iron mitre plane. David Stanley Auctions. c 2014

Contemporary reproduction of an early mitre plane by Wayne Anderson. c 2005

Contemporary reproduction of an early mitre plane with acanthus leaf hold by Wayne Anderson. c 2005

Bottom of Anderson mitre, showing the through-tenons. This laborious method of construction was practiced after the earlier method of brazing iron components together in ovens.

Bottom of Anderson mitre, showing the through-tenons. This laborious method of construction was practiced after the earlier method of brazing iron components together in ovens.

ENGLISH MITRE PLANES

Gabriel, Moon, Towell, and Spiers.

C. Gabriel mitre plane, rosewood infill, 10 1/4" long with a 2 1/4" iron.

C. Gabriel mitre plane, rosewood infill, 10 1/4″ long with a 2 1/4″ iron. Christopher Gabriel started making planes in 1770, and he continued making them until his death in 1809.  His sons continued making planes as late as 1822.  During the 1790s, after Christopher’s sons took over, the firm diversified into making beds and chairs, as well as parts for pianos.  A few years later, the family continued as a large wood supplier in London, and they remained in business until well into the 20th century.

Closeup of the Gabriel bridge. After more than 200 hundred years, the original inscription has been overwritten at least one, but much of the original Gabriel inscription is still visible.

Closeup of the Gabriel bridge. After more than 200 hundred years, the original inscription has been overwritten at least once, but a fair amount of the original Gabriel signature is still visible.  G__RIEL can still be seen.  ‘E’ doesn’t show as well as it could in this photo.  This Gabriel is clearly marked with 220; most of the relatively few surviving Gabriel mitres are numbered.  As far as I know, no one really knows what these numbers represent.

Gabriel mitres emerged with the now familiar box-like form, with wrought iron sides dovetailed to a steel sole.  Other English planemakers, contemporaries, as well as succeeding generations, adopted this general pattern for the mitre plane.  Mitre planes were the only generally available metal plane,  followed by the rabbet plane by Robert Towell around 1835-40, then Stewart Spiers and others introduced a range of metallic infill bench planes in the 1840s and 1850s.

Gabriel mitre plane. Gumetal sides. David Stanley Auctions. c 2013

Gabriel mitre plane, with gunmetal sides. Number 492, and also noted in the book “Christopher Gabriel and the Tool Trade in 18th Century London,” by Jane and Mark Rees.  David Stanley Auctions. c 2013.

In this book about Gabriel, Rees examined 6 mitre planes:

Perhaps the most interesting feature of these planes is that five of the six are marked with what appear to be serial numbers – 415, 492, 700, 701, and 720.  This feature has not been noted on the mitre planes made by other contemporary makers such as John Sym of Westminster (1753-1803), and the Ponders, the Gabriels’ successors in the plane-making business.”  Another signed Gabriel mitre plane with 309 stamped on the bridge, was featured in a blog by Joel Moskowitz.  Moskowitz estimated that there are around a dozen Gabriel mitre planes remaining extant, and that based upon the low volume of mitre components in Gabriel inventory records, mitre plane production was quite limited.  I believe that there are more than a dozen, especially when one adds in all of the unmarked mitres having Gabriel characteristics, but it seems unlikely as many as 720 were made.  If these numbers were actually serial numbers, then there should be a lot more of these planes around, as infill mitre planes show obvious intrinsic value, and would not have been thrown away generally by people who might encounter one over the last 200 years.

Harwood’s 1813 map (partial) showing Old Street and Banner Street. Gabriel worked out of 100 Old Street until 1794. In that year the business was moved to Numbers 31 and 32 Banner Street.

Moon

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Moon mitre plane, 7 3/4″ long, with a 1 3/4″ iron. Moon made planes from ~1795 to 1853. It may appear to have a moveable front sole piece, for adjusting the throat, but that is not the case. Its built of iron sides, dovetailed to a steel sole, rear of the mouth. In front of the fine mouth, is a separate front sole piece that is pinned to the body through four internal lugs on the sides.

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MOON 4 Little Queen St. Lincolns Inn Fields LONDON. Front infill removed, showing 4 internal lugs that are pinned through the sole from underneath.  A separate sole going behind the mouth can be seen on the inner left cheek.

Lincoln’s Inn Fields area in 1889. Map image from wikipedia.

Storefronts on St. Martin’s Lane in 1830. Drawing done by George Scharf. In 1795 Thomas Moon set up his original shop here at no. 145. Earlier, Thomas Chippendale & Son also had a shop on this street, no 60-62 from 1754 until 1813.

St. Martin’s Lane in the 1820s.

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Moon mitre plane, dovetailed, 10 1/2″ long, with 2″ Ward snecked iron. Its visually similar to a Towell mitre until one lines the Moon up next to some Towells to see that they do not match. Moon made his own iron mitre planes, also featuring a Cupid’s bow on the bridge, as did many English makers of wrought iron mitre planes in the early 19th century.

Moon mitre plane. David Stanley auctions. c 2014

Moon mitre plane.  David Stanley auctions. c 2014

Towell

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Moseley and Sons dovetailed mitre plane, made by Robert Towell. Moseley operated a posh tool shop at 17-18 New Street, in a retail district of Covent Garden during the 1830s.  Towell worked in the early 1800s, from c 1810, until about 1850. Robert Towell is generally recognized as the first full time maker of infill planes, first mitre planes, and then later some rabbet planes, and a handful of panel planes.  Max Ott was a 20th century cabinet maker and collector who was born in Switzerland but worked in England. He stamped most of his tools in the old style.

“Rt. TOWELL LONDON”  Mitre plane, with 2 inch iron.

Robert Towell: birth and Christening. From familysearch.org

Robert Towell, marriage to Ann Grey, 29 January 1816.

Other Towell children include: Robert Jr., b 22 Dec 1816-d 1863 Shoreditch, London; Ann Frances, b 11 Sept 1820; Martha, b 01 October, 1822; Joseph, b 21 June 1824.

Robert Towell “iron plane maker,” 1861 UK census.  Research was a result of a cursory investigation at familysearch.org.  I looked first for Towell information after his productive work years, circa 1810 to 1850.

Initially, Towell lived and probably worked in the Marylebone district of London.  Since the 1861 census made a note of residence at Clarence Terrace in Marylebone, Shoreditch was Towell’s workplace.  Here is a description of Shoreditch during the period of Robert Towell’s productive years, circa 1810 to 1850:

“In Shoreditch artisans operated from small workshops where they lived. Tailors, ironworkers, leather workers such as saddlers and cordwainers (shoe and boot makers) were all common. Printing and furniture makers were another two predominant industries in this area, particularly in the later period. The furniture industry boomed in the south Hackney area when the Regents Canal was completed in 1820, as this eased the transport of heavy goods and materials. The furniture trade provided work for many small specialist trades such as french polishing and veneering, likewise with printing there was work for bookbinders and stationers.

By Victorian times, although the industrial revolution had resulted in most industry moving from areas around the City walls to places where land was cheaper and goods could be produced on a large scale, some craftsmen had escaped the threat of mass production. These were people working in the finishing trades and with high value artefacts. Being close to fashionable markets, Shoreditch was ideally placed and traditionally the area had a pool of semi-skilled labour. The furniture trade’s centre was Shoreditch and it flourished partly because of the Regents Canal, built in 1820, which was utilised for transporting the heavy hardwoods needed. Piano makers and showrooms abounded too. By 1901 there were over five thousand piano, cabinet and other furniture makers in Hackney and they had spread out from Shoreditch as far as Homerton.”    From http://www.bonsonhistory.co.uk/html/hoxton___shoreditch.html

Robert Towell, widowed, retired cabinet maker.  Presumably an infirm “inmate,” in Shoreditch, London.  familysearch.org

Robert Towell, death, 1871. Shoreditch, London.  He led an unusually long life for the period.  familysearch.org

While on the subject of Towell, here is a photo of a Towell smooth plane. It was sold in the UK through thesaleroom.com some time ago. Panel planes and rabbet planes are known to be made by Towell, but this smoother was a revelation.

Towell panel plane. Photo from ebay.

Towell panel plane. Photo from ebay.

Towell mitre and rabbet planes. Towell rabbets that I have seen, do not have a metal keeper or bridge, like later rabbet planes do, such as Spiers.

Incredibly small mouths on these Towell planes. Robert Towell was one of the best planemakers, ever.

Spiers

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Early Spiers mitre plane, also from previous page.  Stewart Spiers (1820-1899) made his planes in Ayr, Scotland, on the west coast.  Spiers played a major role in developing wood infilled metal planes, including panel, smoothing, thumb, and improved mitres.  Several features indicate that this mitre was made between the 1850s and 1870.  These include a flying saucer-shaped or domed lever cap screw, tapered iron, lack of sole extension at the heel, and side screws to secure the lever cap.  It does not have the earliest version lever cap, with the long narrow neck; this lever cap was made to be more robust.

Earliest version (1850s) of Spiers original pattern mitre plane with extra long lever cap. Stewart Spiers later discovered that the neck of the lever cap did not have to be so long in order to achieve the necessary leverage to hold the iron securely. By the late 19th century, some of the lever caps on Spiers improved pattern mitre planes were quite short. See the photograph of two improved Spiers mitres further down on this page.

Spiers mitre plane, 10 1/2″ long, with 2 1/8″ iron. It was made between 1880 and 1900. In general, an upside down stamp on lever cap does not necessarily indicate early manufacture.

Spiers mitre plane, with traditional wedge, pinned infills, small Spiers inscription right side up, c 1880-1900.

Two 'improved pattern' Spiers mitre planes, both made c 1880-1900, with the small right-side up Spiers Ayr inscriptions. The plane on the right has a small lever cap similar to what Norris used in their mitre planes later on, and a double lever cap screw somewhat like C. Bayfield, Nottingham, but with the sarecen-type cusp.

Two ‘improved pattern’ Spiers mitre planes, both made c 1880-1900, with the small right-side up Spiers Ayr inscriptions. The plane on the right has a small lever cap similar to what Norris used in their mitre planes later on, and a double lever cap screw somewhat like C. Bayfield, Nottingham, but with the sarecen-type cusp.

Pianomakers plane, from France. David Stanley Auctions.

Pianomakers plane, with radiused bone sole, purpose unknown, from France. David Stanley Auctions.

 

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