MARKS and Transfers                                           

This section is devoted to the marks that were both impressed into William MARPLES tools and used in literature, but I can only report on those marks for which I have good evidence, and therefore it is still a work in progress.[6/2023]
I have given some marks ‘names’ according to my having discovered them years ago and they are not therefore in any date order. These ‘marks’ appear in my earlier Plane studies and it would be a huge task to go into each Plane study and amend these issues, therefore I hope you understand the problems and will forgive me for not changing these studies.

However since that time, I have found that the exact same marks  [but using different sized stamps] were used on tools according to the space available on that tool and therefore sizes would not be a good gauge of the age of a tool, but the format would still be of significance.
{ Originally BM stood for ‘Blade Markings’, but many MARPLES tools have the mark on other areas of the tool, so I will now use BM as short form of Brand Mark}

Please appreciate that there would have been so many ‘stamps’ produced by and for MARPLES that it is impossible to list and collate them all.

William Marples Jnr. started his venture into Tool Making history  [but unknown to him at this time] around 1830, [when he became 21 years old] and his VERY first mark is recorded on a Marking gauge of mine as W. MARPLES JUN.  I have also found a 12″ square at ‘Winterthur Portfolia II’ that shows the same mark ascribed to c1834.
This 3/4″ semi-circular mark [across the baseline here below], may have persisted until at least c1838. I have recently found a possibly slightly later variation to this mark wherein it states W.MARPLES JUNR , shown right below, but where the small R is elevated with a line underneath.

The next mark used by MARPLES appears shortly after his move to 67/69 Spring Lane in 1838 [aka Broomspring Lane; Broom Spring Lane] and takes the form of an ‘Anchor‘   This mark was used until 1859 while he was at Spring Lane [named Hibernian Works].

It may also be seen combined with ‘W. MARPLES, SHEFFIELD ‘ or ‘HIBERNIAN ‘

On moving premises to Westfield Terrace [Hibernia Works] in 1859 the mark was changed to the ‘Lyre‘ or Irish Harp, and this mark persisted until 1862.  I have only ever seen this mark on the Ultimatum and other wooden braces by MARPLES. Below:

The above mark is on an old Boxwood Marking Gauge. Probably c1862-1875.and with no Triple Shamrock mark.   This could possibly be a mark from 1861-2, as there is no single 3 leaf clover trade mark either.
Note: That, as with all the earlier marks, it is ‘W. MARPLES‘ not ‘Wm. MARPLES‘.

To further add to the confusion of ‘marks’ is this 2″ paring chisel having a ‘Round’ type Boxwood handle and having a mark on the blade of:
                    CAST STEEL
There is no trefoil mark discernible nor is Sheffield mentioned. Circa 1870??  Unfortunately the whole mark has been spoiled by having been clamped in vice jaws, but a better mark can be seen on a B/E Paring chisel with London pattern boxwood handle which has all the characteristics of a chisel from around that 1870 era [Very thin sides, and tapered wider at the cutting edge]. This is shown below and has the triple Shamrock mark [1875<].

In 1862 the Trade mark of a single ‘Shamrock’ was announced, [not to be confused with the later ‘Triple’ Shamrock].  The single ‘Shamrock’ mark was carried on until the introduction of two new Trade Marks in 1875…..the ‘Triple’ Shamrock and ‘HIBERNIA’.

From the above example, showing the single ‘SHAMROCK’,  it would appear that the word HIBERNIA was used as a ‘mark’ before it was officially registered as such in 1875.  And further observational evidence suggests that the single Shamrock mark was used after 1875 as well!

The “Triple’ Shamrock Trade Mark (along with HIBERNIA) was in place from 1875.

I am presently researching as to when the word ‘HIBERNIA’ ceased to be marked on tools and so far have established 1943.


But to add confusion to the issue is the mark that follows!  It clearly states ‘LTD‘ [ 1897<] but is adorned with 2 single Shamrock marks, which supposedly were superceded in 1875 by the Triple Shamrock!!  Note the antique script!

What follows here may or may not necessarily be in date chronological order.  Please note that these drawings are not to scale nor are sized relative to each other.​ This is a tremendous amount of research, so what I post here first may be modified in the future according to newer information. My recent research [3/17] has shown that the marks employed were all probably used at various magnifications to suit the width/size of the tools and it is therefore now superfluous to state the size of the marks, since these would vary according to the availability of space on the tool. [ e.g. BM2; BM3 and BM4 are all the same mark but of different sizes. ]
The marks found below must therefore be considered to be ‘base’ marks and are to be found occurring in various dimensions. These drawings and suppositions were made before this latest finding, but they still seem to pertain to the Studies that I made years ago. Obviously the marks placed on steel parts were slightly different to those stamped into wood pieces as different stamps would be required.

I have recently seen BM 10 on a War Dept marked spirit level of 1914 [below]

This early​ stamp [Left] may well have had slightly larger brothers but THIS one is 1/2″across the ‘SHEFFIELD‘ base-line.  Obviously pre-1861 [because of no ‘& SONS‘]

This slightly larger stamp [on a larger square] at 21/32″across the ‘SHEFFIELD‘ base-line shows that a second stamp was used to indicate ‘& SONS‘.  This latter stamp was obviously added after 1861 and probably the square was double stamped like this until c.1863. [when a new combined stamp would most likely have been introduced.]

Left is an old mark, with barely discernible Triple Shamrock and was probably early 1890s? {No ENGLAND noted}   Also note that it is now ‘Wm.’

I have in my collection a 15mm in diameter transfer and it has only the words ‘MARPLES SHEFFIELD’ around the perimeter. This transfer may be c.1890.onwards.
Therefore these water transfers may have been used earlier than was previously thought.

The great transfer seen below has only been seen on Boxed Oil Stones and from around 1910?? maybe earlier:

This paper label is on a wooden mallet, but there is not sufficient information to date it and it is the only one of its’ kind that I have seen.

Here below is another ‘rare’ Water Transfer that I have seen only on a c.1930 Bow Saw:

  There was a GREEN Marples transfer that was applied to Boxwood handled [chisels] and pre-dates the next [RED] issue. This transfer had the usual MARPLES Green trefoil, but had the word ‘SHAMROCK‘ in GREEN as shown on the Left.
Later varieties had ‘ SHEFFIELD ENG‘[below]. instead of ‘SHAMROCK

The transfer [above GREEN Shamrock] was used on many items (including chisels) BEFORE the RED styled variety.  The Sept/1959 brochure shows the GREEN shamrock on a chisel set.
This is VERY hard to pin down to an exact date. The GREEN Shamrock is noted in the 9/67 Cat. M1
Therefore it was probably used 1958-1967. [It may have replaced the ‘MARPLES only’ 18mm transfer. ]
I think that both GREEN and RED labels were only used on Boxwood Carver chisel handles, until I find out otherwise!     NOTE: This transfer says: SHEFFIELD ENG

Presently this [Left]  RED Shamrock mark may be associated with MARPLES chisels produced between 1967-1973 and having Boxwood handles.
But the switch over from GREEN to RED marks is presently under study, and for a while may have co-existed.
NOTE: This transfer says: SHEFFIELD ENGLAND


Presently I am confused as to when these stick on adhesive 1 inch diameter ‘MARPLES‘ labels were used [above left], because I have both examples of the ‘MARPLES‘ only adhesive sticky label and the ‘Wm.MARPLES &Sons‘ [Earlier] adhesive sticky label. SEE BELOW. I have seen the earlier label on both ‘stamped’ and ‘electro-etched’ chisels, but the ‘MARPLES‘ only label on electro-etched chisels.


But I believe that the latter type was replaced in 1969 by a crude Yellow and Blue ‘stick on’ label as can be found below.


The ‘MARPLES, SHEFFIELD ENG’ only 18mm diameter water transfer ( above) was used at least 1958-1962-65? and was placed on boxwood chisel handles down close to the ferrule., and being only 18mm in diameter shows ENGLAND truncated to ENG.  It is possible that this transfer and the larger  1″ water transfer [shown below] co-existed and were used according to the space allowed on the tool. They appear in cat .No. P62 1964/5 edition. This would explain why the water transfers were used first and were later replaced by matching Adhesive stickers.

Wm.MARPLES & SONS‘ [left] water transfer.  These 1″ diameter water transfers were put on  ‘Round’ chisel handles over the incised circumferential lines towards the middle of the handle and on many other tools. c1936-1965?  They were replaced with exact copy paper stick on ‘transfers’ which may have then persisted to 1969.


The 2 large transfers below are from c.1930 and appear on Ebony handled Squares. But one says ‘ENG.’  and the other has the full word ‘ENGLAND‘. I think the latter may be earlier.

This water transfer was used on all hand-made wooden planes (marked MARPLES and not on those marked MOSELEY) from maybe 1920 < 1965 and on other tools [e.g. hammer handles].
They were not applied to the ‘BB‘ wooden planes as those had their own paper applied label as shown below.

This above paper label [above] was used on all BB [Best Beechwood] planes after c.1936.
The second less colourful BB paper label [below] is 2.1/4″ wide and 1″ high and it appeared before the BB sticker shown above, possibly up to 1936?  You can see that the initial label says ‘BRITISH BEECHWOOD‘ whereas the second label states ‘BEST BEECH‘.


This mark [Left] from a screwdriver is 1/2″ high and 13/16″wide. Guestimate is 1960‘s?





MARPLES, in Gold, within an outlined rectangle, was used 1953-1960 and was pressed into and on top of the previous finish.


This mark [above] was impressed (stamped gold filled) and mainly used on Marking Gauges c.1960-1973
A very similar mark is found on a 1958 catalogue about ‘Tool Chests’. [shown immediately above right ] and this appears again in a trade advert of October 1960.

Present research indicates that this mark [Left] may have been used from 1959-1991.
I will call this the SEOVAL mark (Semi-Oval)


By October 1963 the SEOVAL mark seems to have been modernised with the lines within the letters having been removed.


I am presently working on when electro-etching was introduced to MARPLES tools.
Maybe 1968 onwards? [speculation at the moment , but I think that I am close here].

I have also observed that many of the later [late 1990s onwards?] chisels and gouges had no makers mark on them at all on the metal, only on the wooden handle. And then the later ones did not even have this.

Below are shown  2 varieties of electro-etching that I have found on the chisels shown c.1990? I believe the earlier one is marked  ‘Sheffield’.

This water transfer  was used when C&J Hampton had control over the MARPLES empire.[1962 onwards]          This transfer is distinctly unimpressive and shouts…’Please be advised that this is not a Quality Tool‘. It is almost as if RECORD wanted to drive the MARPLES name into the mud. [Which they eventually did]

This stamped on Gold filled marking [Left] was used on wooden tools by C&J Hampton after they took over MARPLES 1962 -1991?



The above paper adhesive applied mark seems to have appeared in 1969 and is found on Chisels, Pad Saws, some Wooden Planes, Turning Tools and possibly others.  I am unsure as to whether it was applied only during the ‘Record Ridgway‘ days or whether it was continued after those times.  But, given present evidence, it endured until at least 1973. It was introduced after the 1″ circular adhesive ‘transfer’ [with the words WMS ‘Sheffield, Eng‘]. [See above]



You will find this mark [above] on most of the later Boxwood handled Carver style chisels and screwdrivers, but there are 2 styles with different fonts.  The earlier one has the ‘M‘ in Marples with vertical legs to the 2 outside edges and the later one has those legs splayed outwards.

This mark may have been used for only a short time [mid 80s] before reverting to the Seoval MARPLES again.  More info is needed.


To be investigated further for more details.




MARPLES within a double ‘oval’ window 1991-1999? ​ The mark shown left, is from the Jan 1st 1994 Price List.  The example on the right is off a Marking Gauge

This Green and Gold emblem was found on a 1992 Carving Tools Catalogue.
A variation on the Double Oval window MARPLES, but using exactly the same script.

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