Over at that OTHER site, the one I rarely name, is a plane makers catalog from 1833. Msrs. Hills & Richards of Norwich, Massachusetts, felt it was time to distribute their catalog of goods. From what I can see, these guys were only in business for a very short time. They each were skilled plane makers in their own right. I checked the bible of American wooden planes:
A Guide to the Makers of American Wooden Planes and discovered that these guys changed partners almost as often as a square dance couple would. Was it all about personalities? Someone's lease ran out and they had to move? Contractual disputes? Artistic differences in the placement of the gouge cut? Disagreements over the purpose of the saw nib? For some reason, Hills could not stick with any one partner.
Aside from my wonderings about the intra-corporate conflicts of the 19th C plane makers business, this catalog is interesting in that it is early, in fact the earliest catalog in my personal collection. It's a single sheet of paper and it's a stampless letter. Stamps were first issued in 1847 and by 1856 had become mandatory. The stampless letter was folded up carefully, sealed with a wax blob and mailed. Sometimes the sender paid the way, sometimes the recipient might be responsible for charges. In 1833, the stampless letter was the only way to go. Although, it wasn't called a stampless letter because we had not yet invented stamps.
You'll notice this catalog is entitled: "Catalogue and Invoice Prices...". There is also a note offering 'liberal discount to Wholesale Dealers'. My guess is that 'invoice' meant this is the price and we won't raise it when you walk in the door. Reading through the types of planes offered is fascinating stuff. We have our assumptions of what was a commonly needed plane, but our assumptions are based upon our present day system of work. Halving planes are offered in three styles, regular, with handles and with plating. We don't use these today, but clearly there was a need for them in the early 19th C.
Bed molding planes are there too. No, not for your trundle bed, but for the molding along the floor. I think. Or maybe it was for a four poster? But what is a Blind Plane? Boxed or Unboxed? I'm guessing Draw Planes referred to shaves, but that is only a guess. They were available boxed, moving fence and circular. The Circular plane was also called a Heel plane.
Fillister planes were a big item. Hills & Richards offered them in every variety you can think of:
- with stop
- with stop and cut
- with stop, cut and boxed
- with screw, stop, cut and boxed
- with armes, stop, cut and boxed
- with screw, armes, stop, cut and boxed
Fillister planes are yet often found, atesting to their popularity. The variety of configurations speaks loads to the personal preferences of the workers, if not to the ever-present "my tool is fancier than your tool" school of though. If you're looking for a modern fillister, check out Philly Planes for a true to the note fillister. Even Chris Schwartz, who sings the praises of hand tools, reveled in the delights of fillistering.
Before there were multi-page, bound trade catalogs, there were single sheet catalogs of this ilk. Before the single sheet there were trade cards that served as catalogs or listings of goods. I haven't come across one of the trade card variety as of yet, but I'm still looking. The closest I can come to that is the May & Co. trade card at my website, The Toolemera Press. What, you thought I wouldn't slip another reference in? The May & Co. trade card is late 19th C, so although it does list a bunch of stuff, it really can't be termed a catalog of goods.
I have another single page plane makers catalog to display, but first I have to remove some photo-mounts that became stuck to it. And that is why you should never mount single page trade catalogs using photo-mounts (no, it wasn't me).