Squares and Bevels

Soon after William Marples Jnr. started his own business in 1830, Squares and ‘Bevils’ (as they were then known) must have been among the first tools that he started producing.
Although the c.1846 Broadsheet [see Catalogues section] may not have been the first literature advertising his wares, these two products were listed on it. Of note is that at this time no Product Identification Number was in use.
Shown listed from c.1846 [but with no illustrations] are:
Plated Squares from 3″-30″ [affixed with 3 Diamond shaped ‘rivets’]
Best ” ” ” “-” [affixed with a large almost triangular shaped brass insert and 3 steel rivets]
(‘Plated’ means that the inside edge of the handle had a brass plate.)
Best Plated Squares with Levels 9″-30″
Best T Drawing Squares 9″-30″ [Probably the kind of square used in a Draughtsmans’ Office on a Drawing Board]
London Pattern Bricklayers’ Squares
Brass Stocked Sash Squares 2.1/2″ [ A small brass ‘handled’ square presumably used in the layout of sash joints?]
Plated T Bevils  7.1/2″- 15″ [These were the forerunner of the Sliding Bevil/Sliding T Bevil, in that there was no slot in the steel arm]
Best Plated T Bevils  7.1/2-15″
Best Improved Sliding Bevils  7.1/2″-15″
Plated Angle Bevils  7.1/2-15″
Best Plated Angle Bevils  7.1/2″-15″
Those Bevils above were available with either Thumb Screws or Wing Screws at extra cost, as opposed to the regular flat slot headed bolt.
Best London Pattern Bricklayers’Bevils  {I can find no image of this tool even in later catalogues}

The 1861 catalogue pages are shown here:

You will see that  ‘Best Improved Brass sliding bevils’ come in sizes:
7.1/2; 9; 10.1/2; 12; and 15 inch sizes…but no picture is shown.  Prior to 1862 the stamped imprint on the top of one side of the brass frame would be this:

After that time the imprint had the added ‘& Sons‘ stamped. We can therefore assume that this ‘Bevil’ was introduced to the line in the 1850‘s

The imprint on both reads: REG DEF 3835, I think!
In the 1873 catalogue this Bevil is described as a ‘Brass framed sliding T Bevil ‘ with an associated item number of 427.  But the brass frame has been changed to incorporate a ‘rib’ at the half way point. To make the frame more stable?  The sizes were exactly as above in 1862. The 1888 Cat. lists a ‘Best Improved Brass-frame Sliding Bevel [#575] in sizes 7.1/2; 9; 10.1/2; and 12″.
I cannot find this Bevil listed in 1897, so it may have persisted until c.1890.

Now compare these images and documentation with the 1873 Catalogue shown below. There are subtle differences in structure.

Below is a very rare London Pattern Bricklayers’ Square #416. Apparently they were made all in Brass, probably because with all the water involved in Brick Laying, steel squares would not last very long!

Below is an example of a #414 Best Plated Square with Fancy Shield. I see that this example has brass screws attaching the plate to the stock, this is not shown in the c.1873 Catalogue so maybe only the larger Squares were re-inforced this way.

The smaller #414 shown below is marked as ‘PATENT‘ on the shield, so maybe by 1873 the Patent had expired but was retained so as to scare off any copycats!

Below is a photo of #427 Brass Framed Sliding T Bevil, although I note that is has a square end to the slide and therefore is perhaps an earlier model?
Most Squares and Bevils of this era would have been infilled with Ebony or Rosewood. [See above for more details on this ‘Bevil’.]

Here below is a Canada-pattern bevil showing what I have been informed is a Howard’s 1867 Patent locking screw. I see this bevil first in 1888 as #574 with no mentioned wood species but available as 8″; 10′ and 12″. In 1897 it is called ‘Common’ Canadian Pattern [#549R presumably not Rosewood] and ‘Best’ [#574  Rosewood]. In 1909 ‘Common’ is noted as #2236 and ‘Best’ is #2235.  This bevil does not appear in Catalogues after 1909.

Below is a 3″ Engineers’ Steel Square Item #418 c.1880. These Squares were not ‘rule’ marked until c.1890 when they were numbered #560. These markings however seem to be ‘upside down’ to the usual format, reason unknown! In 1909 the number of the ‘rule’ marked squares was again changed to #5132 and this number persisted until the demise of the item c.1938

The next section is from the 1897 catalogue:

#562 Coachmakers’Iron Stock Squares 6″-10″
#576 Coachmakers’Iron Stock T Bevels 14″
#576S Coachmakers’Iron Stock Spider Mortice Bevels
[There are no images shown for these items]

Below is shown a 6 inch Iron-Stocked Combination Square # 554C:

The blade is imprinted  W.MARPLES

                                               RD  No  12845

Below is an Ebony Combination Square possibly #554B. It does not conform to the illustration in the 1897 catalogue but resembles the fittings of a Canada Square [#558].  I estimate this example to be c.1890 since it does not appear in the 1873 Catalogue.

Engineers’ Steel Squares #559 were available [#418 in the 1873 Catalogue] 3″-18″, as were the ‘Engineers’ Steel Squares, Rule-marked #560.
Item #560A Steel T Square was 6″-18″.[see below]

#1675 Tailors’ Boxwood Folding Squares 18″- 30″… No Image.
Listed under Glaziers’, Painters’, and Paperhangers’ Tools are the following, but again there are no images.
#1685T Squares, Rule Marked 18″- 48″.
#1686 Laths, 1.1/2″wide, Rule Marked 24″- 48″.

Next are the 1909 Catalogue listings:
You will see that there is now a re-numbered system since the 1897 numbers, perhaps to absorb the vast increase in the number of products available. There are too many differences between these years to list them all here, so I urge you to explore those newly listed items and discover those that were de-listed.

#4248 Masons’ Galvanized Steel Shiftstocks or Bevels  7.1/2″, 9″, 12″.
#4249 Ditto Solid Brass
These are still listed in 1909 and are shown as per the 1897 catalogue.

It is highly likely that all the wooden measuring implements carrying the MARPLES name were made for MARPLES by SMALLWOOD or RABONE.

The next image is from the 1921 Catalogue pages.  These are the only  Carpenter’s Squares because after the Great War all items were drastically reduced in availability.This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 1921-Squares-1256x1600.jpg

The next images are from the 1928 Catalogue:

The image above here is from the ‘Coachmakers’ and Wheelwrights’ Tools’ section.

The next images are from the 1938 catalogue:

The next images are from the 1959 catalogue:
Here you will see a drastic reduction in items available since 1938.

The following pages are from the 1965 Catalogue No. 15:

The image below is from the New Products Leaflet of September 1968. This Combination Try and Mitre Square #2205 was only available from 1968 to 1971, being then renumbered as #2222 . This item was short lived as it was replaced by a Die Cast #2222 in 1973 which initially had a spirit level, but this was phased out before 1977.  Photos below show both styles.

Next are photos of a M2222 with the plastic inbuilt spirit level c.1973:

Below is a photo of the Die Cast M2222 without the level. New information suggests that there was a Silver MARPLES sticker in the area of the truncated SeOval area. [Below]

Below is a photo of a carded  new #M2222 which was a re-numbered #2205. The photo below that is of a #2222 but which [looking at the brass locking nut] seems to be closer to the number change from #2205.


What follows is a synopsis of all the Bevels and Squares issued by MARPLES since 1909 trying to link in the Item number with the dates of product availability. The catalogues above will tell you of tools issued before 1909. This research may be altered with new evidence, but I have scoured all the catalogues and bracketed the dates for you. All you have to do is identify your tool from the above catalogue information and look it up in the list below. This will tell you the dates of availability so that you may know roughly the age of your Square or Bevel. The list will be in numerical order, however I have noted that early on [c.1900 to 1938?] MARPLES produced the same tools but were noted as ‘SPECIALS‘, with a suffix of ‘A‘. [For e.g. 2200A] . I do not really know what these items were, but presumably they may have been special orders for specific Companies and were impressed with that Company’s name.  The dates given below are accurate plus or minus a couple of years generally. Where no end date is stated [e.g. 1993<] it must be assumed that the tool existed in production until taken over by IRWIN in c.2007

I will publish here some photos from my files and personal collection, as a picture is worth a thousand words.

In my estimation this Square, #2204, is the very best ever made as it cannot go out of Square. It was called various things throughout its ‘history but’ Shockproof ‘ describes it best.  When first introduced around 1928, and up until 1938+, it had 5 rivets with 2 at the top and 2 at the bottom. It may have gone out of production because it is not listed in the 1959 Catalogue, but it was re-introduced in 1962 with a Hardwood stock and with only 4 rivets. The word ‘Shockproof‘ was introduced in 1962 on the stock initially separated from the other wording, but later was moved up so that the wording was all together [see photo below].  Also at this time a small label was affixed to the blade, as shown on the right. The 1909 Catalogue lists a different product with the #2204 coding, namely Rosewood Squares with incorporated Spirit Levels in the stock brass face. When these Squares were dropped from the line, the number became available and the ‘Solid-Blade’ square appears in c.1928 [below]

                                                        Above as shown in 1928 and 1938 catalogues.

The photo below is of the first ‘Shockproof’ square with 5 rivets. It was not  marked on the stock, only on the blade.  This is a rare example.

The photo [below] shows an original ‘Shockproof’ Square, but not labelled as such. NOTE: the thick 1/4″ dovetailed brass plate.

The photo [Below] shows the ‘Shockproof‘ Squares. The TWO lower Squares are 6″, but the lowest Square shows that the ‘Shockproof ‘ name was imprinted lower than later examples.   The first ‘Shockproof‘ Squares were not marked as such, as shown above. The plate was joined to the wooden stock by accurate Dovetail jointing [No screws].  Later on the brass plate was changed to have a ‘Phillips Screw‘ fastening and a thinner plate. This changed around the same time as the word ‘Shockproof‘ being moved from below the middle rivet to join with the words stamped above. [see the 2 lower images on the right.]
Note that the brass plate decreased from 1/4″ to 1/8″ in thickness when screws were then used.

These Shockproof Squares were sold in cardboard boxes:

But [above] you may note that the advertising boys got into the act as the handle and blade markings have been reversed to accomodate a better format picture.

The photo above shows a very early 14.1/2″ Square by W. MARPLES  JUNR
This was the very first mark that Marples adopted, despite what other sites may say.
The ‘R‘ in Junior [see below] may have been in raised script with a line underneath.  At this time, there were no numbers ascribed to the various tools, but later catalogues would list this Square as #407 [Available in 1873 from 3″ to 30″.]

These Squares below are very early Squares with a PATENT mark of   Reg 3835.    The stock was of Ebony with a total Brass plate all around.  In the 1873 Catalogue they are listed as Item #412  ‘Best Double Plated Squares’, and were available in 3″-30″ .

This MARPLES Square [below] has an iron stock with HIBERNIA in raised letters and is  #2207 [no measurements on the blade] and this existed from 1909 to 1920.  There was also an identical #2208 Square which had inch measures stamped on the blade.

Below is an Iron Square which I cannot find in my Catalogues, but it may be a late #2207, without the Trefoil and ‘HIBERNIA‘ marks.

Below is another 6 inch square that I am unable to identify. It does not have any Rule markings on the blade, but the head seems to be of Aluminium.  I think this item must be post war  [1950<].

Below is a Rosewood Try and Mitre Square #2205, listed 1909 to 1932.

These Ebony with Shield Squares #2202 [below] are listed as being available from 1902 to 1973  [when hardwood was started] but I very much doubt that Ebony was really used much after c.1939!

Below is a very rare 3″#2202 Square with 2 other sizes. All have the same stamped mark on the blade which dates them to c.1932.  The later squares [c.1930< ?] had thumb grooves machined into the handles.

These Rosewood Squares #2200 were issued from 1909 to 1960 [after which ‘Hardwood’ was used], but to be replaced again by a cheap Rosewood in 1993.

These photos below show the transition from the #2200 earlier Rosewood variety with Diamond Plate rivets and Slot screws having a blade width of 2″, to a later Hardwood edition having Phillips screws and circular plate rivets and a blade width of 2.1/4″.   [6″examples shown]

The above M2200 square is from when they had received a ‘Hardwood’ handle.       ‘Record Ridgway Tools Ltd‘. c.1965

The Rosewood Square #2208 [below] was first available in 1938 and was replaced by Hardwood in 1959 and was thus available until 1999.


Ebony Mitre Square with Shield #2212.
Best Ebony. Available 1909-1936.

Item #2210 [below]  Rosewood Diamond-plated Mitre Squares were available 1909 -c.1960, when Rosewood was replaced by Hardwood. But this was again replaced by a cheaper Rosewood in c.1963-1969.

Here below is a very late Marples-Ridgway c.1993 Mitre Square MR2210. It shows a cheap Rosewood, manufacturer drilled hang hole in the handle and no brass protective side strips on the handle.

Shown below here is a small all steel 4″ square that may be a #5131 from the 1909 Catalogue. But it does not fit the picture exactly, because it has a concave aspect to the underside of the handle. It is marked, [as shown,] 1915 with the War Dept. arrow emblem. It may be a ‘SPECIAL‘ produced just for the British War Dept in the First World War.

The 6” square MR2208 below is a late Marples Ridgway offering, showing no brass face on the stock:

Below you will see 2 good photos to show the 9″ later MARPLES RIDGWAY Square MR2208.  The drilled hole in the stock is original.


Presently I can find no listing on this [below] double Brass plated Ebony infilled Bevil, it is not even shown in the 1861 catalogue.  I have a similar item [below]in my collection now.
It seems to be marked: W.MARPLES SHEFFIELD and on the under arc is marked: REGD EF and then under that 3335? Further investigation on Patent Marks is in Order.

This ‘Bevil’ [below] is listed as Item #427 in the 1873 Catalogue . ‘Best Improved Brass Frame Sliding T Bevil’.   Available from 7.1/2″- 15″.

Below is the most famous bevel in the MARPLES lineup, [‘Joiners’ Bevel’] since it endured for so many years. 1909-1973
#2220 in Rosewood and #2221 in Ebony. (1959 Cat. shows only Rosewood)
7.1/2-15″ but reduced over time.  ‘Hardwood’ was started around 1960-64.
But only 7.1/2 and 9″ are offered in 1965.

This #2220 ‘Rosewood Sliding Bevel, Best’ [below] is from c.1932 and shows a rare Water transfer:

MARPLES Item #2226 Hardwood Sliding Bevel, Brass Plated, with special Brass Lever Locking Nut for quick action adjustment. Available in 1959 as 7.1/2-12″.  Was available 1938-1999 . But ‘Hardwood’ replaced ‘Rosewood’ in 1969 but again it reverted to ‘Rosewood’ in 1993.


I will treat these tools as a separate section because they are so different to woodworkers’ bevels.  First named ‘Bevils’ in 1846.  At this time there were various lengths available 8 inches; 10 inches and 12 inches:

Then in 1861:  Up to this time although the length is 12 inches there are still no inch scale markings.

1873: At this time there are various woods available for this bevel and there are inch scale markings:






Photos to follow:










Gauges may have been the first tool that William Marples Jnr. produced and probably totally by himself in a small workshop. All of the components would have been personally produced by him and the items put together for sale. Unless the quality was not good it is unlikely that the venture would have flourished as it did thus allowing William to expand and eventually have various Little Meisters around Sheffield produce components for him.
One of these first Gauges is shown below and I believe was personally made by William Marples Jnr. . It perfectly displays the first mark that we can associate with MARPLES…. W. MARPLES JUN  and shows some wonderful irregularity in the handmade Brass escutcheon plate.

Presently, I am unable to positively locate this Gauge in the 1846 Broadsheet Gauge descriptions, shown below.  Perhaps it is a ‘Mortice Gauge, Head faced with Brass,Turnscrew Screw Slide‘      56 shillings per dozen!!

Here below is what I think is listed in the 1846 Broadsheet as ‘ Improved Mortice Gauge, with Improved stem‘. [96/-doz.] The difference to the Gauge above is that the brass is continued as a strip back to the front tip and provides a bearing surface of Brass for the Head screw to bear against, rather than just the wood.  Everything about this slightly later gauge is as per the first Gauge, except the brass wear strip on the top surface.  Again the wood from which this Gauge was made is not mentioned, and at this stage it is hard to discern whether it is Rosewood or Ebony.  But the weight would indicate Ebony.

The mark [ 3/4″ wide] on the Gauge is one I have never seen before, but since it states ‘Hibernian‘ this must refer to the ‘Hibernian‘ works, which the MARPLES factory was called up until 1859, when MARPLES moved to Westfield Terrace, and then the name was changed to ‘Hibernia Works‘.

Below are 2 ‘Improved Mortice Gauges with Improved Stems‘  showing the Anchor Mark [1838-1859]. The stems are 6.3/8″ long and the gauges are identical except one is Ebony and the other is Boxwood.  Note the Round escutcheon plate rather than the earlier ’round plate with ears’.

Here is the section of the 1846 ‘Broadsheet’ that shows the Gauges that were available.  This sheet shows no images so it is hard to guess how some of these tools looked. [Gauge, Rowters, per set of 8 ?]

The Mortice Gauge below is what I believe to be shown in the 1846 List as an ‘Improved Mortice Gauge with Improved Stem Patent with Rack   120/- per doz.  The wood is Boxwood and the solid brass edge on one side is ruler marked up to 4 inches. The Head position is set by rotating a slot screw on the side which is directly connected to a gear wheel that engages the steel slotted toothed ‘rack’, [which runs the length of the gauge on the side opposite to the ruler markings]!  The Head is then coarsely moved along the shaft and then fixed at the dimension needed on the shaft by the usual slotted bolt on one side of the Head. [see photos below]. The slotted screw at one end of the shaft moves the moving point to select the mortice width against the stationary point.

This gauge may have only been manufactured c.1840-1850. It does not appear in the 1862 Catalogue.

The 1861 Catalogue below lists the Gauges available and with some copper engravings to show the actual tools. But there are no Item numbers allocated to each tool, which, I would have thought, would have made ordering somewhat difficult!   Luckily, by 1873 this had been corrected.

Pictures below are of the ‘New Cutting Gauge’ shown on the pages of the 1861 Catalogue listed at 30 shillings per Dozen. It is made of Boxwood and the stem is 10.1/4″ long. I think the screw in the end should be ‘cheesehead and that the brass keeper may not be correct, This Boxwood variety does not appear in the 1873 Catalogue:

The entries in the 1873 Catalogue are shown below.

The REGISTERED MORTICE GAUGE shown listed in 1861 and 1873 [above] was a strange device whereby the Head was moved along a threaded rod via a slotted screw mounted on the end. The point closest to the head was itself internally screw regulated from the end of the stem:

As a continuation of the REGISTERED Mortice Gauge I should report that the above ‘External thread’ pattern shows no MARPLES marks but I have found yet another gauge that I believe fits the ‘Registered‘ description. This gauge has internal screw controls at each end of the stem.  One of these adjusts the point closest to the Head and the other controls the Head position. The point closest to the end of the stem is stationary. When looking at the photos below please appreciate that I believe this gauge has been modified in that the stationary point has been filed off and the moving point has been broken/removed and a cutting gauge point fitted. Also the mechanism that connects the Head with the internal screw thread has been lost. This is a mechanism that I cannot fathom as to how the Gauge was assembled!! The Head has MARPLES markings as can be seen, namely:  W.MARPLES, the Anchor Mark [1838-1859] and SHEFFIELD. Then below that is REGISTERED No 1398 and MARCH 23 1848. [This date has been confirmed by a UK Patent office search].  It is very possible that both internal and external head adjustments were covered by the same Registration number.  I do note that the ‘External’ version has no Head securing screw.  I am still pondering which version came first but I suspect that the internal version was first and failed in actual use, so was converted to the external threaded rod version.  I do not know when this ‘Registered‘ design was no longer manufactured but it is not mentioned in the 1888 catalogue.  Photos follow:

The Head adjusting screw

The moveable point adjusting screw.

Note the filed off stationary point and the missing moveable point with cutting edge inserted behind.

The internal screw thread to which the Head was attached

MARPLES mark and Regd. mark
This is a look thru’ the brass faceplate that shows the T shaped cutout in the wood to accomodate the attachment mechanism of the Head to the Stem threaded rod.   But how? 

The 1888 entries are next:

The 1897 catalogue has the entries shown below:

Next here are the 1909 Catalogue entries:

The 1921 entries are below:

1928 entries below:

Shows a vast increase in the number of models then available.

1938 entries are now shown below:

Below are the 1959 entries:

Here are the 1965 Catalogue entries:

I note that in 1959 ALL Marking/Cutting Gauges have a plastic thumbscrew, [but the old pictures show Boxwood Thumbscrews!!] that may have been a milky/Cream colour. The 1965 Catalogue [above] gives us a better clue in that the pictures now show a yellow transparent plastic thumbscrew.  You may also find a translucent milky thumbscrew [see later]
This 1965 Catalogue [with new pictures] shows that at that time, SLOT screws were still used [as opposed to the Cross Head (Phillips) screws. But Phillips screws were used from 1963 onwards].

1971 Catalogue entries:

This catalogue still shows plastic thumbscrews to secure the Stock and has the same pictures as in 1965.

I think that this [below] example of M2050 is slightly after 1971.  At that time the plastic thumbscrews had been replaced by Round pot metal [brass finished] knurled screws:

1977 Catalogue entries  show that Gauges 2052 and 2040 are no longer listed.

1996 Catalogue entries shown below:

Indicate that new Stock designs were available from those previous, but these may have been introduced earlier than 1996​  But the MR2049 Economy model has ‘brass’ [probably plated steel] thumbscrews to secure the Stock to the Stem.[see an example below]  {MR=Marples Ridgway}     The #2120 is by now no longer available.   Only the deluxe Model #M2154 had brass facing strips on the Stock face. All these models were made from ‘Hardwood’.

The photo below shows the MR2049 Marples Ridgway marking gauge:

This MR 6828 is first shown in the May 1991 Catalogue and is shown in the November 1991 Catalogue. [Both below]  It was short lived under this number and it looks like a progression of the M 2153.  MR definitely means it was produced under the Marples/Ridgway banner. But the mystery is why the picture below and the description of 11/91 indicate a ‘pull slide’, whereas the picture of 11/91 shows a screw slide??

1998/9 Catalogue entries:
Of note here is that the Gauges have been completely redesigned.
They are now made of ‘Plantation grown’ Rosewood, only the Gauges with brass thumbscrews have a polyester friction pad between the thumbscrew and stem. Previously this would have been a circular steel washer to prevent damage to the stem from the brass thumbscrew.  All but the Economy MR2049 have ‘brass facing strips’ [plated] on the front of the Stock.

Below is the MR2049 from that era:

 Irwin Jan 1st 2006 Catalogue:

Only listed here are TM2050; TM2153; TM2154; TMR2049 and TM2083       –probably all manufactured in Sheffield.
I have no idea presently what the prefix ‘T‘ denotes. [Maybe Thumbscrew]

Below you will find a table depicting the availability of MARPLES Gauges plotted against time up to 1965. After that time I have just included further notes.
This has been a very large task, extracting the information from the Catalogues that I have and plotting them against time. Then again, the descriptions given to the Gauges varied over time and this has delayed the process in order that I may confirm that the details are accurate. Add this to the fact that there were three changes of Item numbers [1873, 1897 and 1909] for any one single item and you can imagine the problems involved to sort these Gauges out into a correct and chronological sequence.!!
Of necessity I have had to truncate the descriptions of the items in order to get everything into a table format [1861-1965] and therefore I have produced below a ‘translation’ of necessary short forms.

Below here is some additional information that is very difficult to incorporate into the above Charts:
#2051 was delisted c.1963
#2080 was delisted c.1963
#2081 was delisted c.1963
#2153 was delisted c.1963
#2117 was delisted c.1963
#2123 was delisted c.1963
#2140 was delisted c.1963
#2154 was delisted c.1963
#2154T is still listed in 3/64
#2153T is still listed in 3/64

There is just not sufficient Data presently available to establish the ‘withdrawal’ date of items after 1938 until 1959, but the January 1955 Price List gives us the following information:

#2153.1/2 still listed in 1/55
#2154.1/2 still listed in 1/55
#2042 still listed in 1/55
#2116 NOT listed in 1/55
#2119 NOT listed in 1/55
#2123E NOT listed in 1/55
#2120 still listed in 1/55
#2150A NOT listed in 1/55
#2151 NOT listed in 1/55

Plain, Faced, Plated or Ring-Plated?
​Below you will see the differences between these configurations.
Left to Right: ‘Ring-Plated’, ‘Faced’, ‘Plated’ and [below] ‘Plain’.
‘Plated’ does not mean that the metal is coated with a thin layer of Brass!

Examples of some Marking Gauges:

Gauge #2040, Beech, Unpolished Square head, Iron Thumbscrew, Ruled.
From this example I deduce that the Iron Thumbscrew was Brass Plated [as evident from the threads.] It was not issued with a circular protective iron/brass ‘keeper’ at the end of the screw in order to prevent damage to the arm, but the 1959 Cat. indicates a Plastic Thumbscrew for this Gauge.

On all quality Gauges which had a metal screw or thumbscrew to secure the Head, there was always an indentation at the inner thread end of the head to encompass a ‘keeper’ and so that the keeper could lie level to enable the shaft to be inserted.

Another example is below:

Gauge #2053R  Rosewood, Half Round Polished Head, Brass ‘plated’ with Boxwood Thumbscrew.  Listed first in 1928 but not shown in 1938.

A very late model M2050  is shown below Left, and to the Right is No. 2050  that is c.1965-71

Sometime around the 1965 era a translucent milky white plastic thumbscrew is to be found. Probably it came after the clear Yellow thumbscrew:

Marking Gauge #2054

This Beechwood Marking Gauge is shown in the 1897 Catalogue as being item #632..’Beechwood Marking Gauge with [Boxwood] Thumbscrew and with a Brass-Faced head’.  In 1909 it was re-numbered to #2054 and existed under this number until the 1928 Catalogue. {But is not shown in the 1921 Catalogue.}    It did not appear in the 1938 catalogue. It may therefore have been available before 1897 and up to c.1930.

Gauge #2066   Patternmakers Small Beechwood, Unpolished with Wedge.
1909-1928+  These had a Registration # 321295 [1898] and a Patent # 14734 It is not shown in the 1921 Cat. but re-appears in 1928, but no further.          In 1909 they were listed at 5/6d per Doz.! The tapered holding wedge slides in a groove along the arm.

Another is shown here:

8 inches long.

I have found that there was produced a larger variety of this marking gauge, still with the same Reg. number and Patent number.  But it does not show in any catalogue. Below is a photo of it on the right with 3 of its’ smaller brothers:

Gauge# 2052    Beechwood, Half Round polished Head, not plated and with a cream coloured Plastic Thumbscrew. This one below is from around 1960.   Issued from the very beginning and until 1965+

The #2052  below is from c.1938  is Beechwood, with a  Half Round Polished unplated Head and Boxwood Thumbscrew.

Gauge # 2052B. below is c.1928 and has a Polished Half Round unplated Boxwood Head and Stem with a Boxwood Thumbscrew. [Unfortunately the latter was not restorable to its’ original colour]

Above are 2 types of #2053, both with slot screws but the Thumbscrew has changed from Opaque to Clear Yellow Plastic. [The latter were not marked as MARPLES]

Examples of some Cutting Gauges:

Gauge #2091.   This Rosewood Cutting gauge with Boxwood screw was only listed in 1909 and was closely related to Item#2092 [below].

Gauge #2092.   Rosewood with Boxwood Thumbscrew, Brass Hooped.  Was  available as #640 in 1888 Cat. and in 1909[#2092] but was not listed in 1921 [dropped in WW1?] but again is listed in 1928, but no further.

Gauge #2095.  Ebony ‘New Pattern’ Cutting Gauge.  Brass Hooped with end securing screw. This is a very old gauge available since 1861, [numbered 472 in 1873; 643 in 1888 and finally 2095 in 1909].   Not shown in 1921 but reappears in 1928 and no further. The Stem on this Guage is 10″ long. Two different Gauges are shown below.

Gauge #2096

This Ebony Cutting Gauge appears in 1873 as #475 and in 1888 as #646Ebony Improved Cutting Gauge‘. Faced Oval head with a 10″ stem. It became #2096 in 1909 and persisted through 1928, but is not listed in 1938.  Shown below missing the brass mushroom shaped cutter keeper.

I am unable presently to identify the Gauge shown below.
Rosewood[?] with Boxwood Head Screw with both Head and Stem Brass ‘Faced’.  If it were Ebony it would be #474   c.1873
The same reference is seen in the 1888 Cat. with again only Ebony being shown but the number is now #645.  In the 1897 Cat. it does not appear.

#2090  c.1909  is the closest that I can come to identifying this all Boxwood guage [below] , but this item number makes no mentioned of the Stem being ‘Hooped’.

This Cutting Gauge below may be a modified #2066 Patternmakers’ Marking Gauge, since I can find no reference to this Gauge.

Gauge #2083. Beechwood, Half Round [?], Polished and Plated Stock[Head] This example is c.1973 with Phillips screws and plastic Thumbscrew.  Later models show no ‘MARPLES’ insignia on the Plastic Thumbscrew. [last photo below]

Below is a late model M2083 Cutting Gauge.  Not ‘plated’ and with Steel Brass plated head screw.

#2090 [below] is a Cutting Gauge that I can only find in the 1909 Catalogue, so it may have been short lived.

#2110 [below] was originally introduced in 1897 as Item #647 and then changed to #2110 in 1909,or before. It is a Beech  ‘Combined Pencil-marking and Cutting Gauge’, plated. Boxwood thumbscrew.

Below are 2 more pictures of a different #2110 Gauge.

Mortise Gauges:

Below are pictures of the short lived #2153T [Thumbscrew Head securing bolt]. This was available c.1959-1965+.

Below are 3 examples of M2153 produced by RECORD/MARPLES showing a Brass plated Thumbturn screw, ‘Hardwood’ with brass slide and still in the original Plastic moulded boxes. The left one is the earlier because of the larger brass grip area on the sliding point arm. The one on the right is the latest, despite having again received a larger brass grip area.


The #2154 Rosewood, end thumbscrew operated mortice gauge with plated head was available c.1938-1963. The head was secured by a oval headed slot bolt and earlier examples had only the mortice pins on one side. { A combined Mortice/Marking gauge was available in 1939 with 3 pins at that time {#2154.1/2}[see below] .  The 2154 was eventually replaced with #2154T [below], but in 1959 both were available, the #2154T having  a ‘Thumbscrew’ head locking screw. Also in 1959 both Gauges were ‘combined’ and made of ‘Hardwood’. The ‘knurled screw’ Brass plated steel round head lock bolt was introduced to the #2154 sometime before #2154T was officially introduced. Both the #2154 and #2154T always had ‘non-fancy’ heads. Below are pictures of the #2154:  Note the earlier head clamping screw in the second picture.

The 2154T here [second photo above] seems to have no knurling to the slide Thumbscrew compared with #2154 immediately above here, showing knurling.

The #2154.1/2  with the additional pin, [making it a combination Mortice/Marking Gauge as opposed to the 2 pin Mortice Gauge of #2154] is only found in the 1938 Catalogue, so I am unsure of when it was actually introduced and then withdrawn 2 different examples shown below:


The M2154 was introduced with Rosewood, had brass plates and was made during the Record/Irwin Marples era c.2000. The head securing thumbscrew and the moving pin end turn screw are only steel being brass coated, not solid brass.  Note the end adjusting screw is not a Thumbturn screw. [below]:

This example [below] of Combination Mortise gauge 2153T [with a Brass plated circular steel head tightening bolt] was made c.1959-1965<. and shows the slide ‘finger grip’ area as being the same thickness throughout as the actual slide. ​Not plated and with a non-fancy Head, the 2153 and 2153T followed the specifications of the #2154 line.  The older version [#2153 second photo below] was a very old pattern that was discontinued around 1959 but it also had a non-‘fancy’ bolt to secure the headstock. [‘fancy’ being the term MARPLES employed to denote that the bolt hole on the Head was surface surrounded by an inserted brass plate of various designs.] Note the wider width of the brass slide finger grip area on the older pattern. The M2153 re-introduced Rosewood, had brass plates and was made during the Record/Irwin Marples era c.2000 [the last 2 photos below].

The washer to prevent damage to the stem of the M2153 was made of nylon [below left]


Above right is a later 2153 probably c.1962, not ‘plated’ and made of ‘Selected hardwood’, but showing the circular head tightening bolt. It had the additional point so as to act as a Marking Gauge, very similar to the #2153.1/2 gauge of 1938. Not marked as #2153T, but it should be!

But here [above] is the original #2153T with Iron Thumbscrew c.1959 with a Slim finger grip area and made from an unknown [probably African] hardwood.

These Brass Stemmed Gauges [below] with Full Brass faced Oval heads are  #2140.  The Brass stems seem to vary in length, earlier seem to be longer. Available since very early on up until c.1959.   See the chart.
The later versions show the ‘fancy’ brass headstock insert as having rounded aspects whereas earlier versions show a double-star appearance. This holds true for many Marking Gauges.
Of the earlier versions I seem to find that the Head clamping screw is slightly larger than later, as is the brass insert.   They always had steel countersunk oval head slot screws, being discontinued in c.1959. The length of the milled slot in the brass stem also appears to vary, earlier were longer.

Having being unable to give a number to these 2 full Boxwood gauges, I am tending to assume that maybe [unless specified differently] ALL the very early gauges were made in Boxwood, and therefore why need to mention it in the listings!  These 2 are obviously very early as shown by the ‘fancy’ brass inlays around the head securing bolt.
More examples will show whether this theory is correct!

#2150 was an all Beech Combination gauge with a brass plated steel head lock screw and brass pull slide. Available 1909-c.1938.  The later gauges show that the brass slide is made of narrower stock than previously, such that there are no finger indentations on each side of the brass slide ‘handle’. [Cheaper!]

# 2123  [2 photos below] Rosewood oval head gauge with circular face Ring wear Plate was made c.1909-c.1963.
An Ebony version of this #2123E was made c.1928-c.1938.

The #2117 gauge was a standard gauge between very early times and 1959<, but of course with various number changes [see chart]. A standard low cost gauge [because it was not thumbscrew operated].   Made however with Rosewood and with ‘fancy’ brass and ‘plated’ head. Of course, in these early times, Rosewood would have been readily available from South America.  

Gauge #2119 [below] was produced for only a short time [c.1928- 1938+] Although made of good Rosewood it was not plated but did have a Thumbscrew slide.   Note the fancy circular head insert.

On the opposite side to the water transfer was stamped this mark:

Mortice Gauge #2120E [below] was made of Ebony and had a plated head. It was originally introduced around 1897 as item #655, became item #2130 in the 1909 Cat. then #2120E in 1928-c.1938.

The Mortice Gauge #2120 [above 3 photos] and below, seems to be the bog standard for Mortice gauges as it lasted for eons [c.1861-c1965<]. It had everything……Rosewood; ‘Fancy’ Head; plated Head; Thumbscrew operation; and was a ‘Combination’ gauge. I have noted that the earlier ones had the ‘fancier’ brass inserts [more delicate with smaller screws… photo below here]

{If the head has slot screws to the top head brass ‘fancy’ insert, the head will be 2.5/8″ long x 2.1/4″ wide}.

{When the Top Head screws holding the ‘fancy’ brass insert [and not necessarily the surface plate screws] changed to Phillips screws the dimensions were reduced to 2.5/8″ long but only 2.1/16″ wide. There was a time when the top Head screws were slot and the face screws were Phillips.!! [see below]. Again here the rounded  ‘fancy’ brass insert is the later product.[extreme Left below]  The earlier variety [right in the photo below] does NOT show a knurled ring surrounding the brass adjusting Thumbscrew. [see the RHS gauge, left] But then again when there were Phillips face screws and Head top screws, there were again no knurling. This latter type also shows a pronounced increased roundness of the Head on the top and  

bottom edges.  The 2 photos  below show that the gauge with ALL Phillips screws has a more pronounced curvature to the Top and Bottom of the Head and was thinner at 2.1/16″

Below is another #2120 showing Phillips head screws throughout and more curvature to the Top and Bottom edges than previously seen..

The photo below shows that when the ‘Fancy’ insert screws were changed to Phillips, the Thumbscrew had no knurling.  There seems to be such variation in the Brass slide castings around this time.  Second from Right has Phillips on Stem and Brass head ‘plates’, but Slot screws for the ‘Fancy’ insert.

#2155 [below] was available 1873-c.1909, and this Rosewood based Combination gauge is quite rare. It has a brass slide circular faced head secured by a brass screw. The under side has a ruled brass surface. .

#2155 and available 1873-c.1909, this Rosewood based Combination gauge [shown above] is quite rare. It has a brass slide circular faced head secured by a brass screw. The under side has a ruled brass surface. .

Below is a very early ‘Anchor‘ marked #2118 Rosewood Mortice gauge with a brass slide and full faced brass wear surface. Note the circular brass head insert with an included cup-shaped brass washer.

MORTICE gauge, Thumbscrew Slide, Head faced with Brass.’ 68 shillings per dozen in 1844. [Shown below] Full Boxwood.
In c.1861 this may have transitioned into Rosewood, becoming #484 in 1873 and eventually #2121 in 1909, and available until c.1928.
Again, all early Gauges had no description of the Wood employed, but Boxwood was plentiful and in large sizes at that time.

Below is an example of what eventually was numbered #2121 Rosewood, Fully plated witha Thumbscrew slide [see above details] This example may be c.1890.

Below is Gauge #2125 and it was in ‘Plated’ Rosewood and had a Turnscrew end in lieu of a Thumbscrew. Available c.1861-c.1928.

Here below is a Rosewood, ‘plated’ with Brass Thumbscrew slide.             Non-fancy Head.    Still trying to identify it!!

But the gauge above may be a #2154.1/2 as shown below. It was only listed in 1938!

Here below is another Marking Gauge that I cannot positively identify . In the 1888 Cat. it is shown as ‘London-pattern’ Oval Head Beech gauge with [Boxwood] Wedge  [#635]. [shown immediately below]  But no mention is made of a Boxwood version.

The same Beechwood gauge is shown in 1897 as #635, but again a Boxwood gauge is not mentioned. So I wonder if this totally Boxwood gauge [below here ]  is #636 which may have been listed in a catalogue before 1888. In the 1888 Cat. a #636 gauge is mentioned but is totally different in description.

Here below is a really strange Marking Gauge.  It is made of beech and has a six sided head. The set marking dimension is locked in by turning the stem into the Head because the stem and head are formed in an offset elliptical pattern. As the stem is turned it locks into the head. Hard to explain, see the photos. I find an illustration in the 1888 Cat. listing a#626Registered Self Fastening Marking Gauge‘, but the picture shows a Cutting Gauge. The Cutting Gauge is actually #629[plated] whereas this Marking Gauge is listed as ‘Plated’ and numbered #627.  I cannot see it in either 1873 or 1897 Catalogues., so it was available only between maybe 1885 and 1895?

Regd. #2411 was from 1884 when the Registration Numbers started, but I believe that this Gauge comes from before that time…c.1875.

In the 1897 Catalogue this below Mortice Gauge was numbered #650, but was re-numbered #2116 in the 1909 Cat.   It was a Rosewood, Plain Head, with Brass shield and a Pull Slide and was available…1873-1928< It does not show in the 1938 Catalogue .

A warning ticket [below] was included in the box of most later Gauges

And below we see the worst of the worst, which I cannot find in any of my catalogues.  They do not come any cheaper, made of Beech with a plastic head screw and bent up brass slide.  A Combination gauge that should never have been.  Probably around c.2002. 

And now for a real Mystery Gauge.   It has THREE marking points for which I have absolutely no answer !! It has 2 screw  adjusters, 1 at each end of the arm with each controlling one of the 2 points closest to the Head.  The other point is stationary. Look at the photos below. The head is stamped with the 3 leaf clover, HIBERNIA, WM MARPLES & SONS and SHEFFIELD.  Circa 1910?

Note the pressed steel ‘cup’ to shield the brass on the arm from the ravages of the head securing bolt.

The photo below shows the V slot cut in the head to accomodate the point closest to the Head so as to convert the Gauge to a Regular Mortice Gauge.
But why have 3 points??

And then see the next Gauge, it too a Mystery: