One of my favorite antique shows for finding rusty and cool tools is the Madison Bouckville Antique week. We go every chance we get and I’ve found some very interesting tools at this show. Some I’ve brought home and some I just get to look at and and usually with some discussion the dealer will let me photograph the plane and give me permission to post it here.
This August 2023’s show was no exception. I found some great planes to take home, but the really interesting one was a little outside my tool budget, but the dealer, Scott Vombrack of Old Dog Antiques from Mt. Holly NJ let me photograph this Silcock & Lowe Plough Plane. It was mis-identified as a Silcock & Lowe Fillister, which Silcock & Lowe did also manufacture. Roger K. Smith actually called it a combination plane in his book “Patented Transitional and Metallic Planes in America, Vol 1. The patent for the plane actually calls it a Fluting or grooving Plough.
The plane was Patented by James Silcock in Britain and is said to be the earliest patented plow plane. The English Patent is No. 10,033, dated January 31,1844.
According to The Gristmill Issue-165 December 2016, Silcock was the premier craftsman working in Israel White’s shop. Israel White was a Philadelphia plane maker and is noted for patenting and making the first three arm self regulating plow plane in the United States ca. September 1835 (US Patent: 7,951X). When James Silcock returned to England he made and patented both rare metallic plow planes and extremely rare metallic fillister plane.
Note there are four different planes called out in James Silcocks 1844 patent.
- The first of these planes is certainly a very remarkable instrument It is a double fillister plane (See Jim Bodes example below) which is so constructed that it is capable of filleting boards of all sizes from about 3/8ths of an inch to about 3 inches and may be adapted to the several purposes of a filleting plane a side fillister a sash or back fillister and a skewed rabbet plane.
- The second instrument described is a fluting or grooving plough.
- The third instrument is a dado plane with which no less than and more different sizes of work be executed.
- The fourth instrument is a trying plane suitable for both rough and fine. There is more detail at the bottom of this post.
This is the actual Plane from the Madison Bouckville Antique Show
As I researched I discovered several examples. Most are missing the Brass medallion with the makers mark, so obviously any example still carrying that brass is worth more to collectors.
Besides the four different plane types of the Silcock & Lowe bench planes, it is also believed that Elihu C. Dutcher made a plow (plough) plane in Pownel VT that may have followed this patent. (I mention Elihu C. Dutcher in this post). Roger K. Smith speculates that there may have been an agreement between Elihu C. Dutcher and James Silcock, although it is possible it was just copied. Not much is known at this time about either enterprise.
I also found this example of a rare double fillister on Jim Bodes site (jimebode.com)
And I found this video from Brown Tool Auctions
The Patent can be found here in the 1844 edition of Mechanics’ Magazine in England
Interesting enough, the patent also calls out a forth plane or a a trying plane suitable for both rough and fine work. I added this note because i thought it was a very interesting piece of hand plane history.
It describes the plane as a laminated plane with an adjustable mouth. You adjust the mouth by loosening some screws and moving the rear part of the plane’s body, which rides in grooves in the sidewalls. I don’t believe there is another reference to this sort of laminated bench plane that is this early. Look at and read the patent to the full story.