What you see here was the full line of MARPLES Iron Spokeshaves, as no others were ever introduced and there was only a line reduction from this time forward.

The March 1938 Pocket Catalogue does indicate that the base castings were of 'Best Grey Iron' with the cutters still being supplied as above.​

M51 and M51R:


This was the standard large non-adjustable spokeshave produced in both Flat and Round base varieties. Manufactured 1936-1964, the Iron body remained unchanged throughout its' history.  As with all the spokeshaves they were initially introduced with a Black body and a Red Lever Cap, and around 1944 the colours reversed....Red Body and Black Lever Cap.  It is difficult to determine any closer dating. The body was 10" long and the Cutter was 2.1/8" wide. The bolt running through the Lever Cap, and thereby applying pressure to the cutter edge, was 12mm diameter and had vertical parallel knurling on the side, which was 4mm thick.  As with all the shaves, the water transfer was applied to the Left Hand Side handle on the Black Body shaves and to the RHS handle on the Red Body shaves.

Now, due to the fact that the only other distinguishing feature to help us date shaves is the marking on the cutter, and given that the cutters can be so easily replaced, we cannot place good faith in the cutter markings to establish a date for the shave.  Remember, neither the body nor the underside of the Lever Caps had any markings.

The undersides of the Lever Caps were always un-painted.

At some time these spokeshaves were released having the body painted a Gold colour and having Red Lever Caps. I had always thought that these shaves were made of Malleable Iron, but I am unable to find ANY reference or Price Listing for such an item.  Other Manufacturers  [e.g. RECORD] offered Malleable Iron shaves but these were always at a higher price.  If the Gold shaves are Malleable Iron I would expect a similar pricing difference to show up in the Price Lists.  But no such reference can be found.  I believe that the Gold shaves were produced after 1944 because the Water Transfer seems to occupy the RHS handle [as with the Red body shaves].  

When the Body colour was changed c.1944  I think that the Black was initially changed to a Maroon colour and then swiftly to a real Red. [I have a GoldM51 with a Maroon Lever Cap, and a Totally MaroonM53 {with a transfer on the RHS handle}.]

M53

The M53 was the only Spokeshave that had an Adjustable mouth width and it was produced first around 1936 and was phased out around 1944.  This latter date I have established because though the Price Lists that I have only show a production period to March 1940, I have a MAROON coloured example which I believe is the first colour introduced by MARPLES after deciding to transition from Black to a Red bodied base. [Shown below in the photo]

The shave was 10" long and had a cutter width of 2.1/8".  The pressure bolt diameter was 9mm. and impinged directly on the back frame, not the cutter.  [much like the M63 and M64 above]. The cutter was held directly captive by a Round headed slot bolt.

Only seen on Red body shaves.

Rounded corners.

M55

The M55 Spokeshave was introduced at the beginning of MARPLES Spokeshave production c.March 1936 and lasted until at least 1944 and maybe later as it is not shown in the 12/49 Brochure. This minimum 1944 date is established because I have a photo of an M55 with Red main body paint [Shown below] and this paint configuration was introduced around 1944 as a transition from a Black body paint.  I have also seen an M55 with the Maroon body paint...c.1944

So now I will try to Analyse each Iron Spokeshave in order for you to gain a greater depth of understanding. Please Note that the information to be found below under 'M51 andM51R' spokeshaves applies to all of the shaves, so reference should be always made back to this section.

To the Left here is one of those Green painted MARPLES spokeshaves, but judging by the Cutter blade mark seems to put it around 1944.  The castings are not as good as usual for MARPLES , but this may be explained by the dating.

The above 'Gold' coloured variety is actually a Brown/Gold variety and I have no idea where this fits into the pattern! [Maybe the very first introduction of the 'Gold' colour?]

Once again, I simply cannot explain why this presumably very early MARPLES transfer would turn up on a c.1944 Spokeshave.  If you have any ideas, please email me!

This mark is seen on the shaves having either a Maroon cap or a Maroon body.  Square corners.

The 2 photos above right are of course confusing as the same transfer appears on an early Black bodied shave and on a much later Red bodied M55.

But between these 2 shaves appears the Round transfer above Left!  I cannot explain this.

At some time the Red bodied shave was replaced by a Green body with a Green Cap and I only have some photos of these. However, I did once own one and literally discarded it as the castings and quality were SO bad that I could not believe that MARPLES  had produced it!!   See below.

If they did make it then it must have been very close to the 1962 era, as I cannot see RECORD perpetuating this rubbish  (Unless it was a vast devious plan to smear the name!).

This mark also occurs as 5mm x 12.5mm, which is earlier, and is seen on Black body shaves. Rounded corners.

What must be the earliest of MARPLES Iron Spokeshaves was Patented on 12th March 1885,  Patent # 3227.  I only have the photos below of this fragile looking shave and I note that it does not appear in the 1897 Catalogue.  [See the Wooden Spokeshave section for a Wood equivalent shave]

RECORD took over MARPLES in 1962 and consequently withdrew the M151 Flat Bottomed Adjustable Shave. Apparently they must have re-introduced that style as the MA151 (and the Round Bottom variety as MA151R) prior to 4/65, these being the only 'MARPLES' Spokeshaves then produced.

Do not forget that RECORD also produced Spokeshaves in direct competition to MARPLES, so this was just a fading out of the MARPLES name.  

Sometime before the Price List of November 1969, these MA examples were themselves phased out of production.

Rounded corners to rectangle

The chart below will show the availability of the Iron Spokeshaves over time, shown with prices:


Spokeshave Number       M51       M51R      M151      M151R      M53      M64      M63      M55 

      Date below 

        3/36                          1/6d         1/6d         2/3d         2/3d          2/-         1/3d       1/3d       2/-

        9/36                          2/-            2/-           2/9d         2/9d          2/6d       1/6d       1/6d       2/3d 

        3/40                          2/-            2/-           2/9d         2/9d          2/6d       1/6d       1/6d       2/3d

       12/49                         5/-            5/-           6/3d         6/3d          ----         3/6d       3/6d       ---- 

       11/51                         6/-            6/-           7/3d         7/3d          ----         4/3d       4/3d       ----

        4/52                          6/-            6/-           7/3d         7/3d          ----         4/3d       4/3d       ----

        9/55                          6/9d         6/9d         8/3d         8/3d          ----         4/9d       4/9d       ----

       12/59                         7/6d         7/6d         9/-            9/-            ----         5/3d       5/3d       ----          

         4/61                         7/6d         7/6d         9/-            9/-            ----         5/3d       5/3d       ----

         4/62                         7/9d         7/9d         9/6d         9/6d          ----         5/6d       5/6d       ---- 

         1/64                         7/9d         7/9d         ----          9/6d           ----         5/6d       5/6d       ---- 

         3/64                         7/9d         7/9d         ----          9/6d           ----         5/6d       5/6d       ----

         4/65                         ----           ----     MA 12/6d  MA 12/6d    ----         ----        ----         ----  

        11/69                        ----           ----         WITHDRAWN            ----         ----        ----         ----           

M151 and M151R


These spokeshaves were the Adjustable brothers of the M51 and M51R.  The M151 was produced from 3/36 - 1962 and the M151R from 3/36 - 1964.

 All the characteristics described under M51 apply to these adjustable spokeshaves.

Obviously the castings were different because the M151 had to have threaded rods inserted into each side handle and also provision was made here for a Thumb rest each side of the cutter.  This makes guidance and control so much easier that I wonder why this feature was not incorporated in all the other spokeshaves.

Below right you will see the 'Maroon' version c.1944, just before a real Red colour was adopted, but maybe after the Green Colour version.??

I think that this is the first mark to be seen on spokeshave cutters.

Cutter Markings

I have placed here drawings and photos of the Cutter stampings that I have seen on MARPLES Spokeshaves.  I have tried to identify a proposed cronological date of issue, but I may, as always, be wrong!  As I have previously stated, the markings, though present, may well not identify the dating of Spokeshaves, because the cutters may be so easily inter-changed and the Spokeshave bodies give us no clues as to production dates, apart from the paint colour.


This mark is around 1944 as it is seen on both Black  Red and Green handled shaves.  Square corners.

Above is an MA151, produced by RECORD/MARPLES  approx. 4/65-11/69.

Transfers:  The usual transfer found is the round 'MARPLES' only transfer [below Left] but an earlier one may be the transfer shown on the middle and right below

M63 and M64

These 2 spokeshaves were again introduced at the onset of Spokeshave production and lasted until circa March 1964.  The M63 was Round faced and the M64 was Straight faced.  Both of these smaller shaves were described as Straight handled and were  9" long and having a 1.3/4" cutter width.  The pressure applied by the Lever Cap always seems to have come from a Wingnut [pushing against the back frame], not a Round knurled headed bolt,[pushing against the cutter face] and the cutter has a vertical slot in it to accommodate this Wingnut.

The 'M' Iron bench planes were introduced in February 1933 with no mention of any forthcoming additions to the line until in the December 1934 Pocket catalogue wherein it is stated: 'Also Routers, Scrapers, Spokeshaves, etc.'  This continued in the Pocket catalogues until only in that of March 1936 are we actually shown a full description with drawings of the Spokeshave line.  It is stated that the 'Cutting Irons of Marples Special Edge Tool Steel, Crucible Cast',  as shown below.

IRON SPOKESHAVES