Type 5a

Again an inclusion here for a Type that I am trying to slot into the progression, but not all parameters presently fit.

It has Beech handles that are grain painted to emulate Rosewood.  Solid Y lever; Red onRed!; two piece unmarked lateral lever held by a rivet in the Ogee frog that is not reinforced, same cutter markings.  But  it has a solid Brass depth adjusting nut that has very coarse knurling and no circular grooves.

It could possibly also be called a Type 6a  !!  The Lever Cap still looks nickel plated and therefore pre-1951.

Please note the almost sharp top edges to these Frog Screws.   cf.  Type 8 where rounded over screws were introduced.

Here again I have obtained a blade very similar to this mark but with a slight variation  ['ENGLAND' in full]. Presently I do not know into which Type it should be placed, but the total width is 13mm and total height is 6mm​. Quite a small mark.   

Above:  Type 8 is on the Left


Handles still wood but possibly lighter stained.

Blade not marked.

No Frog Adjusting screw, but slot still cast in Frog.

'Lever' Cap is now painted totally Blue and has a Brass screw to apply pressure to secure the cutter. The underside shows that it is an old style Cap but with the Spring removed. The Lever Cap shows a circular transfer close to the Brass screw.

Type 3:

 Type 3 planes are the same as Type 2 except that the Base casting has been changed.  The casting now has the word 'SHEFFIELD' cast behind the front knob and the word 'ENGLAND' and the 'TREFOIL' cast behind the rear handle [except in #3;#4 and #4.1/2 planes where it is cast in front of the rear handle]. The handles are still of Rosewood, the planes are still Black on Black [Black frogs on Black bases] and the Frog is still the same with a rotating circular disc. The blade markings and cap iron are also the same.

Above shows the 'cast' Y adjuster.

Dating of MARPLES Planes:

I have much information recently that leads me to conclude that the dating of these Bench Planes can become quite involved.

I have deduced [maybe erroneously] that the #4 and #5 planes were produced in great numbers and boxed up ready for shipping to Wholesalers.

However the M4.1/2; M5.1/2; M6 and M7 were not flying off the shelves and could therefore have been made in small batches and stored unpainted in the MARPLES warehouses.

When an order was received from a Wholesaler for x number of y plane, the components could have been pulled from the shelves,

painted in the correct colours of that day, everything then put together with the hardware available and shipped out.

Therefore you may well find an older style Base casting with either a correct to that style or a later Frog, correct to that casting or later Woods etc, etc, and painted not in sympathy to the base castings.  In other words a mish mash of styles.

Dating these planes is extremely difficult, because do you date according to Base Casting or according to Paint?? 


Marples moved to the new facility in Stubley Lane, Dronfield  in 1971 and remained there as Wm.Marples & Sons until 1983 when they became part of the RecordRidgeway Group.   I have information that indicates that MARPLES started a facility in Dronfield around 1955 and gradually increased it in size up to 1971, when all Departments had by then been moved out of Westfield Terrace prior to its closure.

So at least from 1971MARPLES produced and marketed an inferior plane marked on the lever cap as 'DRONFIELD'.  It was likely put together from inferior imported parts and made for the Chain Store Market and the real Amateur DIY artist, thereby it could command a low price.

They are usually found with a dark red coloured base.  I do not know when they were no longer offered. 

I will try to get a photo here for you soon.  16Mar2019

Type 2         

Type 2 has all the characteristics of Type 1 except that the marking on the blade has changed.  As with all MARPLES marks, they were sized according to the space available on that tool, and therefore to give  dimensions of the stamps is of little value since many stamps of a similar mark would have been available.

Type 4a

Is a Non-Ogee Black Frog but on a Red base. The Y lever is a one-piece casting. The 2-piece Lateral Lever 'disc' does rotate.  Rosewood.  BUT the Brass wheel is a SOLID casting having no indentation on the back surface.  [The example shown is an M3 so there is no room for SHEFFIELD to be cast behind the front knob].  THIS is the first Type marked with the 'M' number .

See the coarser knurling shown left.

William MARPLES Bench Planes were introduced in the February 1933 Pocket catalogue, shown below  Left.   [Although it may have been in the September 1932 Pocket catalogue, which I do not have!      By January 1934 there were some additions as shown below right, namely that the M3 and M7 had been added to the range..

I am sure that the printers or proof readers got absolute hell for allowing the M7 to be shown as  5 shillings each, when they should have been shown as 25/- !

NOTES:  The Feb/1933 (pre #3 introduction) shows no 'Toe-screw' for the rear handle.

                In Jan/1934 Pocket catalogue the spare Plane Irons are described as ...'to suit American Iron Planes'. Some bright spark at MARPLES must have said that this did not

                exactly advertise their line of new 'M' planes, so by the Dec/34 catalogue this has been changed to...'to suit adjustable Iron Planes'.

Blade and Cap Iron:

The blade has the mark at the top, as shown below.

The Cap Iron is notable in that there are absolutely no markings on it and it does not have the  'Grinding angle' advice cutout at the top [see Type 2]

The Cap Iron screw has fine vertical knurling.

This section has been a long time coming, mainly because behind the scenes I have been collecting planes and information/pictures from Internet sites.

The latter I study to determine slight differences in  construction according to basic type.  I will be assigning 'Types' to the study according to the modification/changes made over time to the last 'Type'.  These Types may be open to change as new information is received, so do not think that the published information here is the 'last word'.


Is is entirely possible that around this time [post-war]  many planes may have been assembled from a mixture of old parts in stock just to get the orders out of the door.  Did 'users' really care about what shape or colour was the frog?

I am trying to put some rationality into the production line, but maybe, at this time, there was none!!

Type 4b: 

The wood is still Rosewood, solid Y lever, Solid nut has 3 fine circular rings of transverse knurling.  The Black OGEE frog does not have re-inforcing around the lateral lever attachment point. The base has the M4 casting behind the front knob. There are no markings on the 2 piece lateral lever. The Lever Cap is still nickel plated. The blade marking is shown below. Base paint colour shows as a Crimson Red not Flame Red as later. 

Type 4:

The major change in Type 4 planes is that the Ogeefrog has been introduced and this can be seen in the 1938 catalogue, so it may have been introduced shortly before then.

You can see that this frog has 2 connected 'windows' cast into the lower section and 2 oblong sections cast into the upper section,

This is the only example I have that shows these 'windows', all the rest of my planes show a totally flat finish to this top surface. So a possible explanation is that the  'windows'  may have been 'cast in' to enable the depth of the casting to be better judged during the hand finishing[?] process.

[Surface grinding or sanding]

The circular disc still rotates, the wood is still Rosewood and the paint is still Black on Black.

Type 8:

Type 8 displays a few changes the most notable of which is that the Y lever is now a 2 piece pressed steel affair, joined by a rivet.

Also the frog holding screws appear to now have a rounded-over top edge. [see photo below]

The new base has a cleaner sharper look and has smaller lettering than before.  Note the truncated 'Trefoil'!  

The following table of  'widths of lettering' applies to the No. 4/5 size plane. I cannot say that the other sizes followed the same changes as I do not have enough samples.

'MARPLES' is measured from top of 'M' to the top of 'S'.

                                                              Type 7            Type 8

                   ENGLAND                       40mm              37mm

                   SHEFFIELD                    45mm              42mm

                   MARPLES                       45mm              41mm


Above: Type 8 is on the Left, but the Trefoil looks nothing like a Clover leaf!

Everything else is the same as Type 8 ... Nickel plated lever cap; beech handles are either dark or light varnished; the decal on the rear handle is the same; and it has the same blade marking and cap iron.  The Nickel Plated Lever Cap shows that this Type must have been at least December 1949  but pre 1951.


Handles are now of Dark Plastic

Paint is now a lighter Blue.

Everything else is as before.

Suddenly the William Marples bench planes, and others, were issued around February 1933...................  WHY?

C&J Hampton Ltd [RECORD] also introduced their line of  'STANLEY' look-alike planes in 1933.......WHY?

To quote from Leslie Harrisons' RECORD Catalogue #15 reproduction [ISBN 0 904638 146......the very best evaluation of the RECORD line of planes]

..."The British Government import tariffs of the late 1920's assisted British manufacturers in combating the influx of foreign manufactured planes, mainly from the U.S.A.  which at that time dominated the market.  A "Buy British"campaign was launched to combat the depression in the United Kingdom during that period".

Which is why so many British manufacturers got into the making of 'Stanley' type planes at that time!

Note above: the thumb section of the Lever peeking through, above the letter 'M'

  They must surely have just been using up old stock castings, as we have a non-ogee frog painted Red  AND with a more modern curled and marked Lateral Lever.  I cannot see any markings on the blade but the cap-iron has the Angle grind cutout on the top edge. I also notice that SHEFFIELD is not wrapped around the front knob.

BUT this is a M4.1/2 plane and is probably an older casting.

The M5.1/2 PLANE

The M5.1/2 plane was issued initially [1933] with a blade width of  2.1/4".  But in the Export Cat. 1954 the width is listed as 2.3/8"

But it is more likely that to keep in line with other manufacturers (i.e. RECORD) MARPLES increased the cutter width [and hence the base casting] around c.1948 or maybe earlier.  I have several  'Maroon' coloured [c1944] M5.1/2 with the 2.1/4" blade.

Type 12:

This type again shows a change in the lateral lever in that now it is a single piece of steel with rounded butterfly wings at the top that have been folded down about 45 degrees. I have noted this style in the 1965 Cat.#15.  and here are also shown planes that have no toe screws to secure the rear handle. The cap iron is no longer shaped at the top with a grinding angle guide, but is marked with that information on the face [see below] . Unfortunately I am not able to put any faith in the accuracy of the cutter markings, as the drawings of the actualplanes show 2 other different markings!  When I can get/find examples of this type I will post photos.​​ 

Also with Type 2, the previously plain Cap Iron is changed to now have a profile on the top edge that can be used to judge the 'CorrectAngle For Grinding' of the iron. This new feature is shown in the 1938 catalogue, so it may have been introduced slightly before then.

I just wonder how often this modification was actually used, having seen so many planes with this cap iron but which had wild incorrect grinding angles! Some as steep as 60 degrees, no wonder they were for sale!

[" Damn tool doesn't work worth a spit!"]

I believe the full plane shown here [right]has been owner modified by the removal of the blue paint on the top edges of the sides, and front. It is possible that the wood handles may also have been changed in colour.

                                                                                       BENCH PLANES


The base is painted BLACK and has the word MARPLES around the front of the knob, but there is no plane number shown.  Each side of the rear handle are the words [again in raised cast script]  SHEFFIELD and ENGLAND.   Just behind the frog in raised casting is the Trefoil emblem.  The front edge of the base is not painted as is also the slant on the plane bottom at the rear.

Lever Cap:

The Lever Cap is Nickel plated and has the word MARPLES impressed into the front lower section and this was highlighted by a RED background.

The design of the spring affixed to the back of the Cap-Iron is unusual in that it has a bend in its' profile as shown.  Most other manufacturers used a straight spring.

As of December 1949 the Lever Cap is described as being 'Nickel Plated and polished'. I think that the Nickel Plating might have endured until c1950 when Chrome plating may have been introduced. I have a M4 plane War Dept with a date of 1951 that has a Chromed Lever Cap. [Gotta love those anal Government guys]

I have recently acquired a Type 1 #6 and this shows distinctive ball pein hammer marks on the rivet holding the spring, maybe indicating a hand assembly process.

Note the 'fine' knurling, this changed later in Type 5.

The tables below show the figures involved in the MARPLES output of Bench Planes as time progressed.  These charts are not totally finished and will be added to as new information is received.  


Again, like the base, the Frog was painted Black, except on the blade contact side and has a slightly curved [not Ogee] top edge.  The circular disc on the top of the lateral lever rotates.   The 2-piece lateral lever has no inscription. The Y lever that engages the blade is cast and is not a 2 piece pressed steel affair, that came much later.[Type 8]

The Brass circular adjustment wheel is  1.1/4" indiameter and appears as such on all sizes of planes It has 3 circumferential lines of fine radial knurling and is a quality piece that has no  writing inside the hollowed out recess.  The frog adjuster screw, located in the base, has no knurling and the Frog is secured to the base by 2 cheese headed slot screws that have sharp top edges and washers.

Type 5:

Still shows the Black on Red (Black Ogee Frog on Red Base).  

[December 1949 information says that the bases were enamelled RED, but for how long this had been in effect is pure conjecture. I suggest since c1944.

The mark on the blade is as Type 4b.

The base has the same casting as before with a Number M4/M5 etc. directly behind the front knob accompanying the word 'SHEFFIELD'.

The Circular disc on the lateral lever may or may not rotate, I have conflicting evidence in my samples here.

The Round Brass depth adjuster knob now has a coarser knurling than before, but is indented now on the back face.

Type 7:

Major change here is that the Base and the Frog are both painted RED [Red on Red], everything else stays the same, EXCEPT that the Frog has been re-worked. It now has a new casting that has a raised circular re-inforcement area around the back of the lateral lever rivet, as shown far right. This modification started here but the Y lever is still one solid cast affair.   The previous Frog casting is shown on the immediate right.[Black]

Type 1

The Type 1 plane is the first metal bench plane of this series that was issued by MARPLES in 1933 or maybe late 1932. 

It was styled after the USA STANLEY plane and followed this avenue for some time before some MARPLES innovations were introduced.

Not having enough money to buy 10 of each type of plane in order to write this study, I will just have to rely on observation, intelligence and a modicum of luck to deduce the Types that were issued over time, so do not blame me if I make a mistake.   Basically I decided that any change in one of the major components of structure in the plane will trigger a new type. You will find that some basic components described in Type 1 endured for many years.  My assumption here is that the same changes occurred roughly across all sizes of Bench Planes and so I have written this study based upon the No. 3 and No. 4 plane.​  Remember, that the 'Types' are presently not set in stone, since if I discover a new 'Type' I will slot it into order and then re-assign all the Type numbers 

 Please see later for some c1880 Bench Planes issued by MARPLES

Type 9:

Type 9 shows a totally different casting, but again, I can only show here the No.4 plane. The larger planes may be different, but I have no examples.   The casting shows a circular wording of SHEFFIELD around the front knob.

RM1  [Record Marples Type 1]

This type has Beech handles with a dark stain.

A Chrome Lever Cap, cast with 'RECORD'.

Medium Blue paint.

Frog adjusting Screw...one piece screw and thick washer fits into a slot cast in the frog.

Blade marked 'RECORD'

RECORD MARPLES around knob front [04] or behind knob [05]

Common denominators on all these RM planes:

Top edges of sides always painted

'Y' Depth Adjustment Lever is 2-piece pressed steel riveted together.

The Cap Iron is always marked with the 'Correct Angle for Grinding'.

The chart to the left is a summary of the prices that were asked [Price fixed] of the planes according to date.  This chart should be used in conjunction with the above table so as to obtain a good idea of  Bench Plane production.


The wood used at this time was good imported Rosewood and was Gloss varnished.  The rear handle is a standard STANLEY shape and does not have the elongated top curvature as is seen on later models and the front knob does not have a circumferential incised line around close to the base. [This may help to identify if a knob is original or not].   The Rear handle has the small MARPLES  SHEFFIELD  ENG. transfer affixed at the top horn end.  AllMARPLES Bench planes except No.3 have a bolt through the front base of the rear handle.   The threaded rods used to fix the handles into the base have rolled threads and are topped by the standard slotted brass cap screws.

 I will venture here into the types produced during the reign of RECORD over MARPLES, but only briefly, as these types had the MARPLES name on the article only as an historical nod. They were just pure RECORD planes and nothing else from 1983 onwards.​​

Left Analysis:

A = Available

Blank space = Not available

*  =  assumed available

WD=  Withdrawn

?  =  Presumptive withdrawn during the war effort.

Shown here is the new mark but most often the lower left corner outline is reduced, possibly a stamp failure/wearing, as seen left.

Type 10:

This type is the same as Type 9 but the 2 part lateral lever  has the vertical wording  ' M A R P L E S '  visible through the cutter opening. 

May have a Chromed Lever Cap. Therefore after 1950.


Wood handles now show as Beech with a light varnish coat.

Blade has no marks.

No Frog Adjuster screw, but still has slot in Frog casting.

​No transfer on Blue 'Lever' cap.

Type 6:

Here again we have a major change in that the wood has been downgraded to Beech which is overlaid with a light or dark varnish, with no attempt to emulate Rosewood. 

To date this changeover is difficult. The 1959 catalogue does not describe the wood used but the 1965 [No.15] catalogue says it is 'Selected Hardwood' [i.e. NOT Rosewood].

The Ogee frog still has the cast Y lever and the Circular disc may/may not rotate.

The handle still has the small 'MARPLES' only water transfer applied to the top horn but the direction of the transfer seems to vary.


It is difficult to determine just when the Corrugated Base [CB] was introduced to the MARPLES Bench Plane line, although it should be noted that the M10 and the M10.1/2  never had a CB.  The Pocket catalogues never did mention a CB plane, probably because of space limitations, and so the first literature on the subject is seen in the 1938 mainCatalogue, showing CB was available in all the regular bench planes.  The April 1962 Price List [PL] indicates that the M3C had been withdrawn, but all the rest remained in production, yet the April 1961PL shows that all were available. The March 1964PL shows that none were then available and this is backed up by the fact that the 1965 main Catalogue does not list them.  So it would appear that the CB planes were available c.1937-1963  [1937-1961 for the M3C]

Irregular Plane:

So just when I thought that I had this Study nicely in order, along comes a mongrel to throw a wrench into the study.  I have now seen one on the internet pictured and I have one in my collection.

a)  Red on Red

b) Rosewood handles

c) Straight across Frog, not Ogee.  [ Frog has a 'rounded' top indentation on the blade side, the earlier version]

    The Frog has a raised circular re-inforcement ring around the lower aspect of the Lateral Lever rivet which again says that this plane was put together

     from 4.1/2 plane parts that were lying in stock.

d)  'MARPLES ' vertically on the 2-part Lateral lever.

e) 'Y' lever is a 2 part affair.

f)  'SHEFFIELD' and 'ENGLAND'  are each side of the rear handle.

The Rosewood handles I can explain:  The 4.1/2; 5.1/2; 6 and 7 were 'unusual ' planes to purchase for the average home user and therefore the pre-war stock of these size handles

[and the older style bases] would be available post war and beyond. These planes would have been put together from the available stock at the time of receiving a bulk order from the Wholesaler. This would explain many other peculiarities here.

The raw base would have been drawn from stock at the time of painting, and therefore the paint colour would reflect THAT time.

Similarly with the frog having  the Lateral Lever installed at this time and may well have been the stock lever available, since this lever would have been located on the whole range of planes and therefore would have been 'up-to-date'. But I think that MARPLES vertically on the lever was introduced after the 2-piece lever had been replaced..

The SHEFFIELD and ENGLAND raised casting each side of the rear handle harks back to an earlier time again as  the words M and 4.1/2  appear each side of the front knob and that SHEFFIELD is not wrapped around the front knob.

Note the bend in the spring, probably not seen in any other maker.  This shows the extra quality and care afforded to these MARPLES tools.

Above shows the rounded over frog bolts and to the right can be seen the 2 part Y lever.

Type 11

The same as the previous Type, but this one has a curled top to the lateral lever, [very similar to the X4 plane..c1954-c1965] and a non-rotating circular disc with MARPLES impressed vertically down the lever.   It is possible that this lever may also occur without the MARPLES impression..

The cap iron still has the grinding angle shape on its' top edge.

Notable also is that the cutter seems to have rounded top corners.

The Lever cap is Chrome plated, and this would be the norm from this Type onwards.  Again be warned here, Lever Caps are easy to switch around!!