Logo
tool shed logo 800

NJ Plane Makers

By Bob Garay
Originally published in The Tool Shed, Number 168 (June 2012)

 

Like most collectors, when I first started collecting tools I was very unselective. I would go to the flea markets and buy any antique tool I could afford or that seemed worthy. Over the years I filled my shelves with many fine planes, both wood and metal. I enjoyed cleaning them and studying all their features and getting them back to working condition. It was interesting to study their history and I was lucky to have great reference books. Emil Pollak's book, "American Wooden Planes," was a wealth of information. Every time I got a wooden plane I would research the maker, hoping to find that I got a rare maker. Over the years I ran across many New Jersey maker planes and Alex Farnham's books on New Jersey tools and their makers gave me more information where Pollak's book left off.

As I became more knowledgeable about New Jersey plane makers I bid on planes that showed up in auctions. The CRAFTS auction always has New Jersey planes and I was glad I could fill out my collection with some selective bidding. Of course, there were many other collectors who were interested in New Jersey planes, like Wilma Sagurton who kept the prices on some makers high. I was fortunate a few years ago while in Nashua, NH, to be talking to Bill Curtis who was in the process of organizing his large wood plane collection. He told me he had some very good New Jersey planes he was looking to find a new home for. Would I be interested? Well, it was at that moment that I realized that I was a collector of New Jersey planes and I said boldly, "YES." He just happened to have a box load of these planes I could look through. I was amazed at some of the rare makers and marks of hardware dealers he had for me to see. We struck a deal and I came home the proud owner of a good dozen plus planes. It was time to hit Pollak's and Farnham's books again and check out these planes.

Figure 1
Figure 1. Mockridge & Francis self-regulating plow plane. This Newark based company was one of the most productive of the NJ plane makers. From Chuck Granick's collection.

 

As I studied these planes I realized that I was starting to focus my wood plane collection on New Jersey makers. I sorted through my shelves and put in boxes the good planes from my earlier collecting days that seemed disposable now. I sold them to allow more room and spending power to acquire more New Jersey makers. In recent years I was lucky to find some great deals in the CRAFTS auction as some of the Wilma Sagurton and Greg Welsh collection became available.

I recently displayed a selection of these New Jersey wooden planes at the CRAFTS picnic. Since it happened to be one of the only times it has ever rained on a CRAFTS picnic there was limited tailgating and a lot of interest in the displays set up inside. Thus I enjoyed talking to many members about my plane display and all the different New Jersey makers. Many said I should write an article on the planes and I agreed that it might add some interest to these home-grown makers. Thus, the following is a brief description of the many New Jersey planemakers and hardware dealers who sold wood planes in New Jersey.

Figure 2
Figure 2. Three unique planes by Andruss. Left is a 5 reed boxed cluster. Center is J.Andruss 3/8" T&G come & go plane. Right is a moving filletster with fence, brass depth stop and slitter.

 

I focused on makers of all wood planes, as New Jersey also had makers of metal planes. Much of the information is gathered from the two great reference books by Alex Farnham: "Early Tools of New Jersey and The Men Who Made Them," and "Search for Early New Jersey Toolmakers." Also, I have included information found in "American Wooden Planes" by Emil & Martyl Pollak 4th edition revised by Tom Elliott.

It has been a challenge to find all the New Jersey plane makers, as there is still a lot of research to be done and historical records are incomplete. It seems many elusive makers that are mentioned in directories as "plane maker" were actually workers for one of the major makers. Thus these "plane makers" never stamped the planes they made with their own names, but used the company name. Of course any historical study will be a work in progress and so is this. My hope is that this article starts some dialogue and collectors send in new information relevant to New Jersey plane makers so we can update this information. This article will be updated with any new information. I hope to add many more spectacular planes and makers marks there. Thanks to Ken Hopfel, Chuck Granick and George Duin for some of the planes and information in this article. Also much thanks to the Pollaks and Tom Elliot for their work in American Wooden Planes. Lastly, but definitely not least, is the inspiration and groundbreaking works by Alex Farnham. He inspired me to become a New Jersey collector and to him I owe many thanks.

Figure 3
Figure 3. Mockridge & Francis rosewood plow plane and double pistol coach router.

 

Figure 4
Figure 4. Six rare Newark plane makers. From left is wide complex molder by C. Parkhurst. Second is a J.A. King 7/8" tongue plane. Third is an I. King round plane. Fourth is a Newark Plane Rule & Level Co. skew rabbet plane. Fifth is a C.H. Crane hollow plane. Far right is a J. Searing double boxed complex molder.
Figure 5
Figure 5. Three rare NJ hardware dealer planes. Left is H. Schmitt, and center is W. Schmitt Co. Both have "AUSTRIA" stamped on front as well as C-clamp mark. Right is smoother with C. BELL.

 

Figure 6
Figure 6. J. CITY hardware dealer mark.
Figure 7
Figure 7. Left is Andruss boxwood plow plane. On right is J. Searing Beech wood wedge arms plow plane.

 

Figure 8
Figure 8. Unique coach planes. From left are two Mockridge & Francis rabbet planes, (a compass bottom & a T-rabbet). Third and fourth are planes by S.E. Ferrand also a compass rabbet and T-rabbet. Far right is a rare rosewood Mockridge & Francis 1/8" coach grooving plane.
Figure 9
Figure 9. Ellsworth Danberry wide ogee molder and screw arm plow plane.

 

Figure 10
Figure 10. Two plow planes by Eastburn. On left is a beech body plow with boxwood arms, washers & nuts. On right is a wedged arm plow with brass caps on the arms.
Figure 11
Figure 11. Two sash planes by Eastburn. Left is a very early friction arm sash plane, a scarce design used by only a few early plane makers. On right is later design of wedged arm sash plane by Eastburn.

 

Figure 12
Figure 12. Wedge arm Plow plane by S.C. Cook, beech wood body with a boxwood fence.
Figure 13
Figure 13. Two planes by Nathan F. Norton. Left is a large panel raiser plane. Right is beech wood filletster with long 12" boxwood arms & nuts.

 

Figure 14
Figure 14. From left is B. Norman #18 hollow plane. Second is S.C. Cook 3/4" tongue plane. Third is W.H.H. White 3/4" skew rabbet. Fourth is R.M. Tilburn #16 round plane. Far right is W.J.C. Ward 1" double iron nosing plane.
Figure 15
Figure 15. I. King three-arm self-setting plow plane. It has a handle that is attached to the body with iron supports. It is considered to be the first of the New Jersey three-arm plow planes. Ken Hopfel's collection.

 

Figure 16
Figure 16. Rear is two-way coach plane with curved molding. Above are two coach routers. Right is small coach 1/4" groove plane. Maker of all planes is Mockridge & Francis. Chuck Granick's collection.
Figure 17
Figure 17. Bottom profile view of two-way coach plane in Figure 16.

 

Figure 18
Figure 18. Left is a two-part sash plane, double boxing with two irons. Center is a filletster plane with adjustable fence, nicker and brass depth stop. Rear is a sash chopper. All are made by Mockridge & Francis.
Figure 19
Figure 19. The sash chopper with an adjustable brass stop and boxing where the chopper blade contacts the base. Maker stamp on top of rear wall. Chuck Granick's collection.

 

Figure 20
Figure 20. Gage Tool Co. plane with scarce cast iron handle-overhang.
Figure 21
Figure 21. Andruss unhandled three-arm plow plane. One of only three known examples, George Duin's collection.

 

Figure 22
Figure 22. From left are three molding planes by T. Shepard, J. Brumley & S. Norcross.
Figure 23
Figure 23. Two double iron complex molders, left by Andruss and right by J. Searing. Ken Hopfel's collection.
 
Newark, NJ
Andruss (1821-1841) Jonathan Andruss was probably the first Newark plane maker. Sons David & George formed partnership – David died in 1832 & the father died in 1843. Early planes marked "J. ANDRUSS" for father before sons' partnership are rare.
John Burkinshaw (1857-58) Listed in 1858 directory as plane maker, 125 Academy St. Possibly a relation to W. Burkinshaw.
Thomas Burns (1836-38) Listed in Newark directories as plane maker at 150 Washington St. – the same address as George Andruss. No imprint has been reported, thus he may have worked for Andruss.
L.H. Crane (1830-36) Cabinetmaker in Newark.
J. Doremus (1830) Maker of regular and coach planes. A very rare plane to find.
Samuel E. Farrand (1835-36) Worked in same address as Andruss in 1835. Later as part of Farrand & Gould, plane & machine makers. Many of his planes are coach planes which fit one of his businesses as a carriage dealer. By 1860 he is listed as a farmer in Hanover, NJ at age 60.
Edward Francis (1852-53) Documented plane maker, 138 Washington St.
Elias Francis (1835-79) Partner with Mockridge, listed in 1837-38 as planemaker at 145 Washington St. In 1879 was listed as Superintendent of Newark Plane, Rule & Level Co.
J.L. Haynes (1850) Found example with his imprint along with J. Parker with location of Newark, NJ. A very rare plane with no imprint recorded.
John A. King (1835-37) One of only three known early Black plane makers.
Ira Looker (1858-59 & 1858-63) Directory lists as plane maker, 14 Fair St.
Archibald McIntire (1854-55) Directory lists as plane maker, 226 Nesbit St.
Abrahm Mockridge (1833-1873) Formed partnership with Elias Francis, & later with son.
Mockridge & Francis (1835-1868) Later in 1879 Francis became superintendent of the Newark Plane, Rule & Level Co.
Mockridge & Son (1868-1902) Oscar Mockridge continued to use the old imprint after his father's death in 1873.
A.G. Moore (1847-52) Listed in Newark directories as a plane maker during these years. Moved to NY and is listed there in 1853 working at same address as J.W. Farr.
Timothy B. Noe (1837) Listed as plane maker located at 162 Plane St in the Newark directory. The same address as David Willis, another Newark plane maker.
Joseph Parker (1834) Listed in the 1850 census as a plane maker in Newark. A rare maker with one known example of a beech smoother plane with his mark.
Charles Parkhurst (1835-36) Also partner with Joseph Coe as Parkhurst & Coe plane makers the same year. In the 1837-38 directories Parkhurst is listed as a "Turner and plane maker" at 55 Court St. In the 1850 census he is listed as a turner.
Philip Quigley (1849-50) Listed in Newark directory as manufacturer of levels & carpenter tools employing 12 workers. A rare plane to find with his mark.
John Scheler (1860-61) Directory lists as plane maker, 26 Broom St.
H. Schmitt (1835) Imported tools & hardware dealer. Austria type horn plane.
W. Schmitt Co. (1850's) Hardware dealer. Austria type horn plane.
James Searing (1821-1849) James and his son John worked together.
T. Shepard (1850) Thomas Shepard worked and lived in Newark with P. Quigley.
John F. Teasman (1835-37) Listed in Newark directory as plane maker, "colored" and in 1850 census as planemaker. No imprint reported.
Alexander Veres or Viris (1854-59) Directory lists as plane maker, 138 Washington St. (Veres & Viris) are most likely the same individual but with spelling variations. Both spellings do not appear in the directory at the same time.
Daniel Whittemore (1854-59) Directories list as plane maker, 2 East River St. & 11 Hamilton St.
David Willis (1837) Listed as plane maker located at 162 Plane St in the Newark directory. The same address as Timothy B. Noe, another Newark plane maker.
 
New Brunswick, NJ
Samuel C. Cook (1825-1845) Possibly apprenticed with Robert Eastburn. Possibly employed by Joseph Eastburn. Apprentice included Benjamin Norman. Succeeded by Ellsworth Danberry.
Ellsworth Danberry (1850) Worked with and succeeded S.C. Cook.
Robert Eastburn (1795-1826) NJ earliest plane maker. Planes marked EASTBURN with crowned initials are believed prior to 1810. Crowned stamp believed to be same as Thos. Grant, NY plane maker who also lived in New Brunswick and knew Eastburn.
Joseph Eastburn (1850-1871) Son of Robert, probably used earlier Eastburn stamp.
R.M. Tilburn (1820) Apprenticed in Newbury, MA before moving to NJ in 1820 as a journeyman planemaker. Later he worked in Philadelphia.
William H.H. White (1830's-1850) Was a plane maker and later a carpenter.
 
Other NJ Cities
Thomas Aikman (1800) Burlington. Some planes marked "Phila."
Andrine Bros. (1879) Jersey City. Hardware dealer located at 204 Grove St.
C. Bell (mid 1800's) Jersey City. A hardware dealer.
Joseph Brumley (1790's-1800) Mt. Holly & Trenton. A very rare maker who was a cabinetmaker and maker of planes. Moved to Wash. DC in 1800. Not marked NJ.
W.B. Chamberlin (1845) Westfield. Probably a hardware dealer, known mark with Chapin/Union plane.
John Frace (1860) Newton. Listed in 1860 census as carpenter, evidence of work is rosewood plow plane.
John Gage (1883-1919) Vineland. Maker of Gage self-setting plane, Stanley bought business in 1919.
Laird (1800) NJ or NY. Overstruck Eastburn imprint.
H. Luttgen (1870) Jersey City. Hardware dealer.
Saml Norcross (ca. 1800) A very rare early NJ planemaker with limited information.
Benjamin Norman (1840-56) Trenton. Apprenticed with S.C. Cook. Opened store in Pennington, NJ.
Nathan F. Norton (1850-56) Camden. Started working with Israel White & planemaking in Philadelphia area.
D. Parkhurst (ca.1800) Unrated maker with similar stamp to other Parkhurst makers.
John D. Parkhurst (1850) Springfield. In the 1850 census he is listed as a carpenter. He is an unrated maker with only 2 planes with his mark. A rare maker to find.
William Ward (1868-80) Saddle River. Born in Sheffield England & also worked in NY. Maker of many different woodworking tools. All his planes include a four pointed star mark.
Jacob White (1844-45) Camden. Relative of well-known Philadelphia plane maker, Israel White, and later worked with Cousin Henry White in Philadelphia. A rare plane to find with Camden, NJ mark.