A long time allready I lusted for a set of really old Stanley planes, the so called "low knob" models. Until the type 11, that is up to 1918, the front knob of the Stanley planes was smaller and lower then the later ones. There are a lot of other details, like the plain levercap, the smaller adjusting wheel or a different frog design. I allready had a type 11 plane, my #7 jointer and I always liked the looks of this plane a lot better then the later models, especially the made in the UK ones which are mostly offered overhere in The Netherlands.
So, when I had a little bit of money on my hands, I decided to bite the bullet. We have a dealer overhere (ducotools) who imports antique tools from all over the world, and he happened to have some promissing stuff available. I bought a #3, a #4 and a #6, two smoothers and a short jointer.
On first inspection the planes looked nice enough for a carefull preservation instead of a restoration. The sides and lever cap have that nice mellow brown patina, the japaning is mostly complete and the wooden handles didn't look too bad and looked like a light polish would be enough. This is exactly how I like my tools to look like, in good condition but clearly showing their age.
According to the Stanley type studies the #4 and the #6 are type 7 and type 8 resp. That means they were made between 1893 and 1902. They allready have a lot of the later features, like the lateral lever, but they don't have the frog adjustment screw. Now, I never adjust the frog after it has been set initially, so that doesn't bother me at all. The small #3 was a bit of a mystery at first. It seemed to have characteristics from at least 3 types. After much looking around I found another type study which seems to be a little better, This one mentions an in between type 6a which has features from the types 6 and 7. It also gives a later date for the right hand depth adjuster which was replaced with left hand threads in the type 7. Conclusion, this is a type 6a, made in 1891-1892. And I will have to get used to a depth adjuster on this plane which works the other way round.
All this historical stuff is of course pretty unimportant, but it is fun to know how old your tools are. I was very happy with my purchase allready, But before using them I will have to take care of the technical details of the planes, which is a topic for another blog.