After many years of collecting and researching I have now published a book on antique decorated tools;
Early European Decorated Tools - from the woodworking and allied trades.
Author - Jonathan Green-Plumb
ISBN 978-0-85442-117-6
Published April 2012 by Stobart Davies Ltd.  RRP £30.00
This publication is a survey of European hand tools, from various woodworking and other trades, dating from the 16th to the 19th century. The tools that are contained within the book, illustrated through photographic, drawn and painted images were either made decoratively or received surface decoration, often incorporating ancient symbols, dates and owners names/initials. All the tools that are illustrated were made to be functional, but the emphasis of the book is on the aesthetic qualities that transform such tools into examples of genuine folk art. Planes,braces, axes, compasses, saws and chisels,etc, are featured including many that have not been previously recorded or published. The tools represented are from my own collection, other private collections, and from various national museums in France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, USA and England.

Two views of an early European metalworkers saw, possibly that of a locksmith. The iron frame displays excellent forging and filing skills. The saw also has its original walnut handle. 16 inches                                                                      long . This saw has been in two                                                                        private collections for many years                                                                    and has been described as Dutch
                                                                   or German. The former seems                                                                          more likely.
                                                                   Probably early 18th century.

A Germanic claw hammer. Similar examples can be seen in the Walter Bernt book 'Altes Werkzeug' and are described  as being late 17th and early 18th century. This one has clear decoration and the blacksmiths mark 'ME' . The handle is probably 19th century.


17" long Austrian cooper's compasses made from turned walnut and oak. This form of wooden compasses seem to be associated with coopers as all others that I have seen are associated with the barrel-making trade. This pair are probably 18th century and have developed a great patina.

Dated 1699, this small wooden plane is a rare survivor as it reveals a history of heavy use, 
with missing parts and alterations. The chamfered details along the top edges is similar to other such planes found in Norway. Thankfully the plane retains its deep patina, indicative of its age.
I am always keen to discover information about decorated tools, such as those above and if you have images and other information to offer I would be most interested in hearing from you. I can be contacted at greenplumb@btinternet.com
 Two images of a 19th century French 'galere' carpenters plane. It has the typical features of this unmistakably French form of plane. The two rear side handles allowed one person to push the plane and the front cross-bar style handle allowed another person to pull the plane also, usually by looping some form of cord around the bar and pulling for extra overall force.
Many of these types of planes were made plainly but some, like this one, were carved, usually at the escapement and on the top surfaces of the toe and heel of the main body. As found on other early French planes the escapement is carved in the form of a heart. This example, made from fruitwood has gained an overall pleasing patina. 29cm long.
Two images of an early 18th century iron plane of brazed iron construction, 6 3/4 inches long with what appears to be the original wooden wedge.
Similar planes are illustrated in the book  "Tools - Beyond Hands Towards Beauty"  by Alessandro Cesati. Such planes are believed to originate from Italy and France. This example which has recently been in the David Russell collection has many of the typical features including a protruding and shapely front handle and profiled, shaped sides. This type of early metal plane has been recorded by several authors and date from the 16th to 18th centuries. Despite several being documented they are very difficult to date accurately as their archaic appearance has changed very little over the time span highlighted.
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