Looking at the photo above [c.1909] it would seem that MARPLES employed at least 10 skilled craftsmen to produce by hand the Wooden planes that they sold.
What you see here may be the remnant workers of John Moseley and Son, which was taken over by MARPLES from London in 1892 and many of the workers removed to Sheffield around 1904.
I note the worker in the second booth [left] seems to only produce 24"? large planes, and the chap, [second up from the right], seems engaged in
the production of some larger Rabbet Planes? But just look at the tools that they each needed to employ to produce their wares! These guys are to beadmired and reverred for their beautiful work, but what a shame that they never were. They died into obscurity and will never be known.
Next here follows the Catalogue entries:
The next catalogue pages I have are the 1877 and there seem to be fewer planes offered for sale than before.
The 1861 Catalogue is the first place that we can find PLANES offered for sale by MARPLES. These were probably made by John Mosely & Son, but may have carried just that name with no mention of MARPLES and Sheffield. This is because at that time a plane marked as LONDON made was held in higher esteem than one manufactured up North!
William Marples started to sell wooden planes [the only sort then available] after 1846, since the 1846 Brochure shows that no Planes were listed.
The 1861/2 catalogue does indeed list this sort of plane, but it is doubtful that MARPLES produced these articles. It is not known at what date MARPLES formed a relationship with the firm of John MOSELEY & Son, but it seems likely that this was the only firm with which William MARPLES cemented a deal to produce Wooden Planes for him and eventually under his name. For William Marples Jnr. to have ventured so far afield as to London before 1860 shows his remarkable skills at sourcing out reliable manufacturers for his business.
The 'Tool & Cutlery Manufacturers' John MOSELEY & Son was formed in c1730 and the 1883 MARPLES Catalogue states that MARPLES is the 'sole wholesale agent for John Moseley & Son'. It may have been so previous to this date, although there is no mention of this in the 1877 Catalogue.
On January 1st 1888 'Moseley & Son' was registered as a Trade Mark of Wm. Marples & Sons, but it was not until 1st August 1892 that the 'Trademark and goodwill of Moseley &Son' was at last announced in a letter to the trade (below), but MARPLES probably had control of the company since c1883.
The 1903 Catalogue states: 'We do not carry stock of Moseley & Son planes in Sheffield...(they)are forwarded from our London plane factory direct to their destination'. It is not presently known (but so suspected) whether planes were marked with a MARPLES mark at this time, and if they were, would they have been shipped from London or Sheffield?
In 1904 The former premises of 'Robt. Sorby & Sons' at 121 Rockingham St, Sheffield was purchase by MARPLES and these premises were then set up to have a dedicated Wooden Plane manufacturing facility. Then later on in 1904 the John Moseley & Son wooden plane making business was moved from London[lock, stock and barrel] to this newly built MARPLES plane making establishment in Sheffield along with all the necessary tools and most of the workmen [planehands] were engaged.
MARPLES catalogues make it clear that Wooden planes supplied by MARPLES could be had marked either 'Marples' or 'Moseley' as the customer wished. As late as the 1938 Catalogue it states: 'We can supply Planes in the celebrated "John Moseley & Son" make at the same prices'.
As regards the Hand made 'Shamrock' Wooden planes, I cannot report on them totally from their introduction around 1860 through their demise around the end of 1963. As with other tools, these planes went through at least 3 changes of 'number' and the description is not always the same over time, so to follow the path would be a monumental task. Therefore I have to leave you to conduct your own research about any one particular plane given the pages above taken from the Catalogues.
What I have found out is that it is probable that these older planes were not marked as 'MARPLES' until c.1900 and maybe it was 1904, when the Moseley firm was transferred up to Sheffield from London. This could have been based upon the fact that Sheffield was not renowned for making Wooden Planes and for a plane to be marked 'London' was a better selling point. Therefore the Moseley planes were sold through MARPLES for some time and could be marked as 'London' made till c.1903. The 1903 Cat. had 2 pages devoted to the selling of John Moseley & Son's London Planes. It is worth noting that the 1909 Catalogue has a separate listing for John Moseley & Son's planes [headed 'London Plane List'], as well as MARPLES planes. In the 1921 Cat. the planes are shown synonymously but have separate headings in the Index referring to the exact same pages. [Carpenters Planes and Moseley' Planes], but in the 1928 Cat. it is stated...We can also supply Planes in the celebrated "John Moseley & Sons" make.
BB stands for initially 'British Beechwood' but morphed into 'Best Beech' over time. This shown from 2 labels..... coming!
The BB brand was introduced as a less expensive wooden plane [ machine made] for those not needing to own a Best "Shamrock Brand" hand made plane, but the choice was naturally limited to the more popular sizes and shapes. So it was that they were introduced in the Pocket catalogue of September 1936 and endured until c.1965.
Curiously the BB planes were only described in the catalogues and were never given an Item number, and this endured until early 1965 when the planes were numbered but not called BB [under C&J. Hampton control by this time]. This is shown in the chart below that indicates the planes that were available in the 1959 Catalogue along with the description and blade sizes available. Any 'cell' that shows sizes indicates that only these sizes were then available.
Of necessity short forms have had to be employed to install all the information in the chart and here are the translations:
AF = Adjustable Fence
DI = Double Iron
NL = Not Listed
MG = Moving Grooving
SI = Single Iron
* = Listed as before
---- = No longer available
NOTE: In the 1938 Cat. there is listed a BBScrew Stem Plough Plane and this is still listed as of March 1940, but it does not appear in the 1954 Pocket Catalogue.