This Rosewood based Combination gauge [shown above.] is quite rare.  It has a brass slide circular faced head secured by a brass screw. The under side has a ruled brass surface.  Number 2155 and available 1873-c1909.  

GAUGES,          Marking, Cutting and Mortice

The closest that I can come to identifying this all Boxwood guage is #2090c1909, but this item number makes no mentioned of the Stem being 'Hooped'.

A WARNING ticket that was included in the box of most Late Gauges.

This is a very early 'Anchor' marked  #2118  Rosewood Mortice gauge with a brass slide and full faced brass wear surface.  Note the circular brass head insert with an included cup-shaped brass washer.

Irwin Jan 1st 2006 Catalogue.

Listed here are TM2050; TM2153;TM2154;TMR2049 and TM2083 probably manufactured in Sheffield.

I have no idea presently what the prefix 'T' denotes. [Maybe Thumbscrew]

 I have noted that the the earlier ones had the 'fancier' brass inserts [more delicate  with smaller screws...extreme right here]  

{If the head has slot screws to the top head brass 'fancy' insert, the head will be 2.5/8" long x 2.1/4" wide}.

{When the HEAD TOP SCREWS holding the 'fancy' brass insert [and not necessarily the surface plate screws] changed to Phillips screws the dimensions were reduced to 2.5/8" long but only 2.1/16" wide. There was a time when the Head screws were slot and the face screws were Phillips.!! see below.       

Again here the rounded aspect 'fancy' brass insert is the later product.[extreme Left]

The earlier variety [right] does NOT show a serrated ring surrounding the brass adjusting Thumbscrew close to the thumb operation. [see the RHS gauge, left]

But then again when there were Phillips face screws and Head top screws, there were again no serrations. This latter type also shows a pronounced increased roundness of the Head on the top and bottom edges.

Above is a later 2153 probably c1962, not plated and made of 'Selected hardwood', but showing the circular head tightening thumbscrew. It had the additional point so as to act as a Marking Gauge, very similar to the #2153.5 gauge of 1938.  Not marked as #2153T, but it should be.  Confusing!

Another 2120 showing Phillips head screws throughout and more curvature to the Top and Bottom edges than previously seen..

Gauge #2092. Rosewood with Boxwood Thumbscrew, Brass Hooped. Available in 1909 Cat. [and maybe before]  Not listed in 1921 [dropped in WW1?] but again is listed in 1928,  but no further.

1928 entries below show a vast increase in post-war available models:

The next catalogue I have is the 1897 and the entries there are shown below.

Cutting Gauges:

Below you will find a table depicting the availability of MARPLES Gauges plotted against time up to 1965. After that time I have included further notes.

This has been a very large task, extracting the information from the Catalogues that I have and plotting then against time.  Then again, the Descriptions given to the Gauges varied over time and this has delayed the process in order to substantiate the details as being correct. Add this to the fact that there were three changes of Item numbers [1873, 1897 and 1909] for any one single item so you can imagine the problems involved to sort these Gauges out into a correct and chronological sequence.!!

Of necessity I have had to truncate the descriptions of the items in order to get everything into a table format [1861-1965] and therefore I have produced below (right)  a 'translation' of necessary short forms

I note that in 1959 ALL Marking/Cutting Gauges have a plastic thumbscrew, [but the old pictures show Boxwood Thumbscrews!!] that may have been a milky/Cream colour. The 1965 Catalogue [above] gives us a better clue in that the pictures now show a Transparent real Plastic Thumbscrew.

This 1965 Catalogue [with new pictures] shows that at that time, SLOT screws were still used [as opposed to the Cross Head (Phillips) screws seen on later examples. { c.1975<}

I am unable presently to identify this Gauge.

Rosewood with Boxwood Head Screw and both Head and Stem Brass Faced.

If it were Ebony it would be #474  c.1873

Maybe they changed the Wood sometime after then.

The 2117 gauge was a standard gauge between very early times and 1959<, but of course with various number changes [see chart]. A standard low cost gauge [because it was not thumbscrew operated]. Made however with Rosewood and with 'fancy' brass and 'plated' head.

Of course, in these early times, Rosewood would have been readily available from South America and in great condition!

Presently, I am unable to locate this Gauge in the 1846  Broadsheet Gauge descriptions, shown below.  

Perhaps it is a 'Mortice Gauge, Head faced with Brass,Turnscrew Screw Slide'

 56 shillings per dozen!!

Gauge # 2052B. c.1928 Polished Half Round unplated Boxwood Head and Stem with Boxwood Thumbscrew. [Unfortunately the latter was not restorable to its' original colour]

But here [above] is the original   #2153T with Iron Thumbscrew c.1959. with a Slim finger grip area and from an unknown [probably African]  Hardwood.

Below are the 1959 entries:

This Cutting Gauge may be a modified 2066 Patternmakers' Marking Gauge, since I can find no reference to this Gauge.

The 1921 entries are here below:

Here are the 1965 Catalogue entries:

1971 Catalogue entries.

Still showing Plastic Thumbscrews to secure the Stock.   The same pictures as in 1965.

Gauge #2095. Ebony New Pattern Cutting Gauge. Brass Hooped with end securing screw A very old gauge since 1861, numbered 472 in 1873643 in 1897 and finally 2095 in 1909. Not shown in 1921 but reappears in 1928 and no further.

Here is the section of the 1846  'Broadsheet'  that shows the Gauges that were available.

This sheet shows no images so it is hard to guess how some of these tools looked. [Gauge, Rowters, per set of 8 ?] 

'MORTICE gauge, Thumbscrew Slide, Head faced with Brass.'  68 shillings per dozen in 1844. [Shown below] 

In c1861 this may have transitioned into Rosewood, becoming #484 in 1873 and eventually #2121 in 190, and available until c.1928.

Again, all early Gauges had no description of the Wood enjoyed, but Boxwood was plentiful and in large sizes at that time.


Left.. 2 more pictures of a different #2110 Gauge.

Having being unable to give a number to these 2 full Boxwood gauges I am tending to assume that maybe [unless specified differently] ALL the very early gauges were made in Boxwood, and therefore why need to mention it in the listings!  These 2 are obviously very early as shown by the 'fancy' brass inlays around the head securing bolt.

More examples will show whether this theory is correct!

Above are 2 types of #2053, both with slot screws but the Thumbscrew has changed from Opaque to Clear Yellow Plastic. [The latter were not marked as MARPLES]

Gauge # 2052  Around 1938.  Beechwood, Half Round Polished unplated Head with Boxwood Thumbscrew.

A Late model M2083 Cutting Gauge. Not 'plated' and with Steel Brass plated  head screw.

These Brass Stemmed Gauges with Full Brass faced Oval heads are # 2140. The Brass stems seem to vary in length, earlier seem to be longer.  Available since very early on  up until c1959.   See the chart.

The later versions show the 'fancy' brass headstock insert as having rounded aspects whereas earlier versions show a double-star appearance. This holds true for many Marking Gauges.

Of the earlier versions I seem to find that the Head clamping screw is slightly larger than later, as is the brass insert. They always had steel countersunk slot screws, being D/C in c1959.  The length of the milled slot in the brass stem also appears to vary ealier were longer.

The 2154 Rosewood Thumbscrew operated Combination gauge with   plated head was available c1938-1959, when it was replaced with 2154T [below].  The thumbscrew head lock was introduced to the 2154 sometime before the 2154T was officially introduced and was available with a Brass-plated Steel circular head tightening bolt, immediate Right. The 2154 and 2154T always had non-fancy heads,  either when secured with a plain screw or the later Circular thumbscrew.

Gauge #2066 Patternmakers Small Beechwood, Unpolished with Wedge.


Gauge #2119 was produced for only a short time [c1928- 1938+]  

Left and Right. Although made of good Rosewood it was not plated but did have a Thumbscrew slide.

Note the fancy circular head insert.

Mortice Gauge # 2120E [Left] was made of Ebony and had a plated head.  It was originally introduced around 1897 as item #655, became item# 2130 in the 1909 Cat. then #2120E in 1928-c1938

This Gauge #2125 was in Plated Rosewood and had a Turnscrew end in lieu of a Thumbscrew.  Available c1861-c1928

1938 entries are now shown below:

Next up are the 1909 Catalogue entries

Could there have been too many fingers in the pie to put forward a consolidated, unified design front at MARPLES during the latter years? Were so many small items 'jobbed out' that what we find is a mish mash of components all leading to non-uniform final products?

Below here is some additional information that is very difficult to incorporate into the above Charts:

#2051   was delisted c.1963

#2080   was delisted c.1963

#2081   was delisted c.1963

#2153   was delisted c.1963

#2117   was delisted c.1963

#2123   was delisted c.1963

#2140   was delisted c.1963

#2154   was delisted c.1963

#2154T is still listed in 3/64

#2153T is still listed in 3/64

There is just not sufficient Data presently available to establish the 'withdrawal' date of items after 1938 until 1959, but the January 1955 Price List gives us the following information:

#2153.1/2 still listed in 1/55

#2154.1/2 still listed in 1/55

#2042       still listed in 1/55

#2116       NOT listed in 1/55

#2119       NOT listed in 1/55 

#2123E    NOT listed in 1/55

#2120      still listed in 1/55

#2150A   NOT listed in 1/55

#2151      NOT listed in 1/55

A perfect example of  Gauge #2083. Beechwood, Half Round [?] Plain, Polished, Plated Stock[Head]  This example c. 1973 with Phillips screws and plastic Thumbscrew.

Gauges may have been the first tool that William Marples Jnr. produced and probably by himself in a small workshop. All of the components would have been personally produced by him and the items put together for sale.  Unless the quality was not good it is unlikely that the venture would have flourished [as it did] to allow William to expand and eventually have various Little Meisters around Sheffield produce components for him. 

One of these first Gauges is shown below and I believe was personally made by William Marples Jnr. .  It perfectly displays the first mark that we can associate with MARPLES....     W. MARPLES JUN  and shows some irregularity in the Brass escutcheon plate. 

This example [below Left] of Combination Mortise gauge 2153T [with a Brass plated Thumbscrew circular steel head tightening bolt] was made c1959-1965<.  

and shows the slide grip area as being the same thickness throughout as the actual slide. ​Not plated and with a non-fancy Head.

The older version  [2153 below middle] was a very old pattern that was discontinued around 1959 but also had a non-'fancy' bolt to secure the headstock. ['fancy' being the term MARPLES employed to denote that the bolt hole on the Head was surface surrounded by an inserted brass plate of various designs.]  Note the wider width of the brass slide finger area on the older pattern.  The M2153 re-introduced Rosewood, had brass plates and was made during the Record/Irwin Marples era c2000 [below and below Right]

The 1861 Catalogue below lists the Gauges available and with some copper engravings to show the actual tools.  But there are no Item numbers allocated to each tool, which, I would have thought, would have made ordering somewhat difficult.  Luckily, by 1873 this had been corrected.

Marking Gauges:

Plain, Faced, Plated or Ring-Plated?

​Below you will see the differences between these configurations.

 Left to Right:  Ring-Plated,  Faced,  Plated and Plain.

'Plated' does not mean that the metal is coated with a thin layer of Brass!

The washer to prevent damage to the stem of the M2153 was made of nylon [below]

Number 2123 Rosewood oval head gauge with circular face Ring wear Plate was made c1909-c1959.

An Ebony version of this  #2123E was made c1928-1938.

1998/9 Catalogue entries.

Of note here is that the Gauges have been completely redesigned.

They are now made of 'Plantation grown' Rosewood. It is noted that only the Gauges with Brass Thumbscrews have a polyester friction pad between the Thumbscrew and stem. Previously this would have been a steel circular washer to prevent damage to the Stem from the Brass Thumbscrew. All but the Economy MR2049 have brass facing strips on the front of the Stock.

LEFT: Showing that when the 'Fancy' insert screws were changed to Phillips , the Thumbscrew had no serrations. There seems to be such variation in the Brass slide castings around this time. Second from Right has Phillips on Stem and Brass head plates but Slot screws for the 'Fancy' insert.

Originally introduced in 1897 as Item# 647 and then changed to #2110 in 1909 [or before]

Beech Combined Pencil-marking and Cutting Gauge, plated.

Shown Right is a very late model M2050

Rosewood, plated with Brass Thumbscrew slide. Non-fancy Head.  Still trying to identify it!!

The 2154T here seems to have no serrations to the Thumbscrew close to the slide contact point.

Compare with #2154 immediately above here.

Gauge #2053R  Rosewood, Half Round Polished Head, Brass plated with Boxwood Thumbscrew.   Listed first in 1928 but not shown in 1938.

The Mortice Gauge #2120 [above] and below, seems to be the bog standard for Mortice gauges as it lasted for eons [c.1861-c1965<].  

It had everything......Rosewood;  'Fancy' Head; plated Head; Thumbscrew operation; and was a 'Combination' gauge.

Left 2 photos show that the gauge with ALL Phillips screws has a more pronounced curvature to the Top and Bottom of the Head and was thinner at 2.1/16"

Gauge# 2052 Beechwood, Half Round polished Head, not plated and with Plastic Thumbscrew.

Issued from the start and until 1965+

This one is from around 1960.

1996 Catalogue entries shown here indicate new Stock designs from previously available but these may have been introduced earlier than 1996

All except the MR2049 Economy model have Brass [probably plated steel]  Thumbscrews to secure the Stock to the Stem.  The 2120 is no longer available.  {MR=Marples Ridgway} Only the deluxe Model # M2154 had brass facing strips on the Stock face. All these models were made from 'Hardwood'.

Gauge #2040, Beech, Unpolished Square head,Iron Thumbscrew, Ruled. The 1959 Cat. indicates a Plastic Thumbscrew for this Gauge. 

From this example I deduce that the Iron Thumbscrew was Brass Plated [as evident from the threads.]  Was not issued with a circular protective iron/brass 'keeper' at the end of the screw in order to prevent damage to the arm.

On all quality Gauges ,with a metal screw or thumbscrew to secure the Head, there was always an indentation at the inner thread end of the head to encompass a 'keeper' and so that the keeper could lie level to enable the shaft to be inserted

No.2150 was an all Beech Combination gauge with a brass plated steel head stock screw. Available 1909-c1938. The later gauges show that the brass slide is made of narrower stock than previously, such that there is no finger indentations on each side of the brass slide 'handle'. [Cheaper!]

The entries in the 1873 Catalogue are shown below.

Mortise Gauges: