MARPLES & SONS, WILLIAM

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MARPLES & SONS, WILLIAM

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"MARPLES, William & Sons (Ltd.)
Westfield Terrace (Hibernia Works) 1856-1965
Dronfield (Derbyshire) 1950-1983
1909: Became Ltd. The origins of the Marples firm can be traced back to 1828 when the 21-year-old William Marples, newly released from his apprenticeship, set up in business in Broomhall Street, Sheffield. William came from a family of joiners' toolmakers and, to distinguish himself from his father, traded under the name of William Marples (Junior); he was listed as "Manufacturer of Joiners Tools, brace bits and skates". From this beginning grew the firm of William Marples ans Sons Lts., the best known and most prolific of all the Sheffield hand-tool makers. The company still trades today, although since 1983 as part of the Record Ridgeway group.
During the 1850s the founder's sons (Edwin Henry, William kent and Albert Marples) entered the business and in 1888, the two elder sons of Edwin Henry, who was by then the sole proprietor, joined the firm.
As one of the stronger Sheffield manufacturers and factors over the years the firm acquired a number of other tool makers. By 1871 Wm. Marples had purchased an interest in ''''Turner,Naylor & Co.'''' and in 1875, his youngest son (Charles) joined that company, at which time the name was changed to Turner, Naylor & Marples. Prior to 1875 this firm had been making chisels, plane irons and other edge-tools for the Marples firm who did not have the facilities for manufacturing thes goods.

'''Planemaking'''
The earliest listing of planes is in the 1873 catalogue (there is a considerable gap in the availability of catalogues before this date). Listed are a range of beechwood planes, which probably came from ''''John Moseley & Son''''. A trading relationship between these firms is clarified by the 1883 catalogue wich states that marples was the sole wholesale agent for John Moseley & Son. This relationship seems to have rapidly developed to some closer form of association, as on 1 January 1888 "Moseley & Son" was registered as a trade mark of Wm. Marples; indeed control of Moseley may have already passed to Marples by this date. However it was not until 1 August 1892 in a "letter to the trade" that Marples announced its purchase of the Liondon planemakers.

[-'''1892''': Purchase of John Mosely & Son, planemakers. Production continued in London until 1904 when it was removed to Sheffield.
'''1903''': Catalogue: "We do not carry stock of Moseley & Son planes in Sheffield ... (they) are forwarded from our London plane factory direct to their destination."
'''1909''': Acquired the stock and goodwill of Thomas Ibbotson & Co. (founded 1825). Purchased the remaining interests in Turner, Naylor & Co. Ltd. This firm's trademark was "I. SORBY" (Punch brand).
'''1932''': Turner, Naylor & Co. Ltd. purchase stock and goodwill of John Sorby & Sons; trade mark "I&H Sorby" (Sheep brand).-]

Thus by the 1930s, Wm. Marples & Sons Ltd. Controlled a large portion of the Sheffield light edge-tool and joiner's tool trade and were also active manufacturers and factors for a wide range of tools for other trades, including cutlery and garden tools. The Wholesale activity can be illustrated by the 1909 catalogue of American tools factored by the company.
Further information about the history of the firm is given in a reprint of the 1909 Marples catalogue.
A study of the catalogues makes it clear that wooden planes supplied by Marples could be had marked either "Marples" or "Moseley" as the customer wished. As late as 1938 the catalogue states, "Planes in the celebrated John Moseley & Sons make at the same price."

'''Planemaking / selling activities (from Marples catalogues)'''
[-'''1878''': Importer of Stanley Rule & Level Co. planes.
'''1888''': Factor of English pattern iron planes.
'''1897''': Iron planes with rosewood fittings.
'''1909''': Importer of Stanley and Ohio Tool Co.'s planes.
'''1925''': Importer of Stanley, Siegley iron planes and Vaughan & Bushell drop forged steel planes. Sheffield made cast iron block planes.
'''1935''': Commenced production of "M" series planes (copies of Stanley type planes with similar numbers but prefixed with an "M"). This range widened until 29 models were offered in 1938. Thereafter the number of types of planes was reduced by wartime conditions. Production ceases by 1969.
'''1938''': BB Brand machine made beechwood planes. (Those examined by the editors are coarsely finished.) Production continued until 1966.
'''1954''': The X4 metal plane of superior quality produced. It was intented as a replacement for the British traditional quality smoothing plane which was by then no longer available.
'''1961''': New range of built up beechwood planes with iron frog marketed as Nos. 2960 (smooth) and 2961 (jack). It has been suggested that these planes were a response to the difficulty of obtaining well seasoned beechwood. The design consisting of two full length side pieces spaced apart by blocks is howerver well suited to machine production methods enabling the mouth to be formed without any complex morticing. The advent of synthetic adhesives enabled the parts to be gluied together as strongly as if they were a single piece. Production ceased in 1964.
'''1965''': Best quality beechwood planes deleted from the list. BB Brand machine made 2nd quality still listed.
'''1968''': BB brand planes withdrawn. Nos. 2690 and 2691 withdrawn.
'''1971''': No wooden planes listed. The end of a continuity in plane making that lasted 240 years!-]

Despite Marples pre-eminence in the tool making trade, wooden planes marked with their imprint are not as common as might be expected." [GOODMAN]

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