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The information in this Web page is derived from a type study done by Roger Smith, in his book "Patented Transitional & Metallic Planes in America." Patrick Leach reformatted the type study and added comments based on his experience with Stanley planes.
I converted the type study to hypertext and added the plane dating flowchart and feature timeline.
I've converted some of the plane dating information found in Patrick Leach's Plane Type Study into an easy-to-use hypertext flowchart.
Hopefully by answering a few questions about your plane you can determine which type it is.
If you want the information from this site in a handy reference book with current prices I suggest you purchase my I never thought vintage tools were a good investment but if you buy them at the right price they will keep and/or increase their value.
I know of many collectors who have built their collections over 20 or more years and never paid top dollar for a single plane. Stanley planes, even the rarest of the rare, might still pop up at flea markets, garage sales, swap meets, General auctions or on a dusty shelf in a neglected corner of an antique shop. Still the number one source of bargain buying for dealers and collectors alike. Prepare to get stung every now and then but more often than not the risk is well worth taking.
Unfortunately, many plane types share the same bed markings, so other features are also used in dating.
Stanley Hand Planes helped write the American hand plane story from the late 1800's on.Four categories seem sufficient to describe and roughly date a plane: Pre-lateral for any plane that has no side adjusting mechanism for the cutter, low knob, SW model or tall knob (SW stands for Stanley Works but is usually called Sweetheart) and late models for WW2 vintage and later.In the United States, the words “tools and hardware” and “Stanley” are almost synonymous.Some simply put the wrong bit in the wrong place, some customised their tools to suit their needs - the possibilities for change are endless.There are detailed type studies available, usually starting with type 1 for the first model then going up with every little or major change.
"You'll never find another like it..." Of course you do!