There has been discussion in various corners of the internet, yea the omnipresent blogsphere even, examining the relationship between Joseph Moxon's presentation of the Plow plane as opposed to the Plow Plane offered by Msr. Felibiien's earlier work on the Principle of Architecture.
Now, look carefully at the planes as depicted in these two plates. Do you see? The Moxon images are facing to the left. The Felibien images of the same planes are facing to the right.
What can this mean? I have a very simple theory as to what happened and why this has bedeviled us for centuries. Remember first that Moxon was not a member of the Guild that controlled printing. He was first and foremost a Publisher. In fact, some of his books note that they were 'printed for Jospeph Moxon". We can infer that Moxon had to outsource the work that he planned on publishing. Not having ready access to overseas contractual labor, he may have engaged the skills of a newly minted journeyman engraver. And what did journeymen engravers do? The learned how to slavishly copy an existing image, or engraving, to be used in further editions of a given book. Plates underwent considerable wear and tear during the printing process. Periodically, new plates had to b engraved. The journeyman engraver was a skilled artisan in recreating an existing plate such that the viewer could not tell the difference.
But... in this case, I think the engraver was less than skilled, less than attentive, or to fond of his Ale. The Plow Plane, Jointer, Fore, Smooth and Rabbet planes are all pointing in opposite directions on each plate. Let's say the engraver was given an engraved print to copy. Too drunk to think clearly, the engraver faithfully copies the images, all the while forgetting that the images must be engraved in reverse in order to match the originals!
And so, we have a possible answer to why the Moxon tool engravings seem suitable for the dexter amongst us.
I am trying to set up an interview with Mr. Joseph Moxon so that we may settle questions such as this one. If anyone has particular questions that have been bugging them for the past 300 years, please let me know and I will do my best to bring them to Mr. Moxon's attention.
Till next, Gary