Number M102 Plane Study

The 3105 was Black Japanned all over the body and Cap  and probably the sides as well. The listing shows that the Cap was pierced by the threaded hole for the pressure wheel, but does not show the figure eight cut-out in the Cap. Presently I am not 100% sure that the plane shown is the 3105, nor for how long this casting endured, but the pierced cap is my only evidence..

It was listed at 24/- per dozen  (The catalogue being skewed to Ironmongers and other Trades). 5.1/2" long with a 1.1/4" wide cutter. Throughout its manufacture it always had a somewhat boat shape as the sides were certainly not parallel as is found on other planes.

The M102 name was officially first introduced in the February 1933 soft cover catalogue along with others of the M line. M presumably standing for Marples not Metal. Interestingly enough the 3105 Block plane persisted alongside the M102 up to the 4/35 catalogue and both at 2 shillings each and I am suggesting that this was merely in order to dissipate overstock of the 3105.  The 3105 was therefore available for about 10 years 1925-1935.  In 9/36 the price was raised to 2/6d which persisted to at least 3/40.  After that date catalogues were not issued until approx 1949 by which time separate price lists were in favour due to ever increasing and frequent price hikes. Dec 1949 shows 6/6dNov 1951 shows 8/- each, 1961 is at 9/9d and it is at 10/- in the April 1962 Price List. It does not appear in the 1st March 1964 Price List. A 'revised' price list of Nov 1951 indicates that the M102 was manufactured throughout the War.

What follows here is an attempt to put a sequential order to the 102/3105 plane as changes occurred over time. Under the different headings I will list any perceptible changes that I have found which were different from the previous  'Type', but these changes may be updated as new information is discovered.   I had difficulty differentiating blade markings as MARPLES had very similar markings used on planes over a 20 year span. Faith should therefore not be placed  in the accuracy of these reported marks ( referenced as BM2,BM3 and BM4)

Type 1:

No doubt was issued in a box that was labelled 3105. but no number was indicated on the plane itself.

Paint:  The body and cap were black japanned but the cap may have been changed to red soon after introduction, but in either case the underside was not painted on the lower half.   Both front and back edges were japanned as was the 3mm diameter crossbar. The mouth slope was clean and had no gullies at either side. The outer sides were machined clean with no japanning there.

Body:  The body is 5.1/2" in length and 1.5/8"wide at its' maximum width. Around the front finger 'button' is marked in a raised casting the words WM MARPLES & SONS  and SHEFFIELD ENGLAND is similarly cast around the Triple Shamrock behind the cutter seats. The crossbar is pressure fitted and not screwed into one of the sides as is the case in the other larger block planes. There is a half ''cone' cast onto the middle of the rear edge.

Lever Cap: As stated before may have initially been black but is more usually found as painted RED, but not on the underside lower half towards the blade contact edge. The 3.2cm diameter wheel is Black japanned and has 12 large castellations  plus one large area where the unit was held to the casting 'tree'

Cap: Is painted Black all over and has the round MARPLES transfer on the palm rest

Blade:  Is reduced in width to 1.9/32" and shows a BM4 impression

Blade: An educated guess is that it displays either BM3 or BM4 markings.

Box and Labels:  Not currently known


Box and Labels:  Has the 'RED stripe at the top' end label and a colourful top label. These labels were probably used since introduction of the M102

Cap:  Is now painted Red/Orange all over and the black Wheel still has large castellations.  3.2cm in diameter. At this time I suspect the Cap has the Round water transfer applied to the palm rest area.

Blade :  At 1.3/8"wide it is stamped with BM3 markings

Type 4:

The November 1951 Price List indicates this for sale at 8/- and I have an boxed example priced at 8/6d. Therefore this Type 4 was in production until at least 1952.  NOTE: this issue seems to not show the same 'quality'' as previous Types.

Paint:  The body and cap switched colours and the body is now painted Red all over, including the mouth slope and crossbar.  The cap is painted BLACK all over. I guestimate from observation of other Marples planes that this switch over occurred around 1944 or just immediately after WWII.

Body:  Painted Red and is marked MARPLES around the front of the finger indentation and M  102 just in front of the mouth. The body casting is reduced in length to 5.1/4" (cf 5.1/2") and slightly less in width to 1.9/16". The crossbar is much thinner than previously at 2mm. The half-cone, SHEFFIELD, Triple Shamrock and ENGLAND remain at the heel of the plane.


Type 2:

Type 2 is probably still named No 3105.   I only have a few photographs of this Type and presently have not had access to an actual plane.

Paint:  Black Base with a red/Orange Cap.

Body:  Is the same as Type 1 but the sides are not machined smooth and are painted black.

Cap: Is painted Red/Orange with an early water transfer applied to the palm rest. The underside still shows the lower half to be unpainted.

Wheel:  Is painted Black all over having a diameter of 2.8cms but now cast with 23 small castellations.

The M102 started out life around 1925 when it was labelled No. 3105. It appears first in the 1928 CENTENARY Catalogue page 77, and I am presuming that this plane would probably have been available a few years before that.  Below is that 1928 listing and an example of the plane.

Type 3:


Type 3 still does not show any designation that it is an M102 but the blade width of 1.3/8"conforms to the M102 description. My assumption is that THIS is the first M102 issued in 1933 and ran alongside Type 2 for 2 years.

Paint: The main body is still painted black all over including the front and rear edges. The Cap is still Red/Orange but now shows no bare metal on the underside.

Body:  The Body is now a different new casting but retaining the same dimensions as before...5.1/2"long and 1.5/8"at the widest point of the still boat shaped sides. The raised letter casting at the front around the finger indentation now only reads MARPLES but the raised castings behind the blade support posts are the same...SHEFFIELD  ENGLAND surrounding a Triple SHAMROCK. The back slope to the mouth is devoid of paint and there are 'gullies' at each side of the slope next to the vertical sides.

Blade: Markings are variable, as discussed earlier but my example of this Type shows a BM3 stamping like a Type 3 and is again 1.11/32"wide

Wheel: Still painted Black all over and having the smaller castellations at 2.8cms diameter

Box and Labels:  The end label is the same but the Top label has been changed but very slightly both in colour and font.  [Note the lettering in Ltd.] Type 3 on the left.

Wheel:  The wheel is the major indicator for this Type because it is cast BRASS with large castellations and painted all black.

Blade:  at 1.1/4" wide shows a BM1 type stamping

Box and Labels:  Probably unchanged from Type 1.

Box and Labels:

Body: The body castings have been increased to pre-war sizes at 5.9/16" long and 1.5/8" wide. There are gullies cast at each side of the mouth next to the vertical sides, and the cross-piece is increased back to 3mm in diameter.  The photo (right) shows the Type 4 on the left and Type 5 on the right...note the differences.

Type 5: This is the configuration that stayed in production until the M102 was discontinued c.1961.

Paint: The body remains Red all over except that the mouth slope is not painted, or maybe was ground clean again after painting. The body sides are ground smooth and are now not painted and the Cap remains painted Black.