For my 60th birthday, Matthew Platt
of this fine parish gave me a lovely snipe bill moulding plane
by William Tracey, Colbrook St., Winchester - <1774-1820. As
Matthew mentioned, Tracey went on to take an apprentice Benjamin
Bown, later on St Cross, Winchester <1781-1816, effectively
training his competition. It is also interesting to note that
Tracey himself was apprentice to the prolific London maker
William Madox, Peter St., Westminster, London - 1748-1775.
So why you may ask do I bring all
these relationships up?
Well it comes down to questions
often asked about dating moulding planes and the nuances and
fashions which were evolving in in the 18th century and before
standardization was fully established by the mid-19th century.
Two key dating factors are length
and finial shape but can not always be used for precise dating
as we shall see. Madox was a key London maker and his planes are
commonly found. Tracey would almost certainly have made planes
under his name.
Today I received a stunning No.2
round by Madox and at first I thought the wedge had been
replaced, since it was not the normal round finial common on
Madox planes. I pulled another Madox to prove this. In the image
below we can see that so round is this early Madox that it
actually bears the divider scribe marks of part of a circle. S
why then does the old Madox I received today have an oval finial
but early 10" length?
Sitting on my bench was the Tracey
plane and I was immediately drawn to the similarity in the
So this is my theory. Tracey made
this latest Madox plane and was aware of modern trends away from
round finials. When he moved to Winchester to set up on his own,
this style went with him and at the same time he started making
the shorter 9-1/2" standard length. In summary, these three
makers are excellent examples of the evolving fashion of
moulding plane designs, a living history in my hands!
Top: the Madox I received today sitting on top
of the later
work of his apprentice Tracey.
The stunning lines of the Madox with oval
The later Bown, again, the Tracey's finial
style is present!