The M102 started out life around 1925 when it was labelled No. 3105. It appears first in the 1928 CENTENARY Catalogue page 77, and I am presuming that this plane would probably have been available a few years before that. Below is that 1928 listing.
The 3105 was Black Japanned all over the body and Cap and probably the sides as well. The listing shows that the Cap was pierced by a threaded hole for the pressure wheel. It was listed at 24/- per dozen (The catalogue being skewed to Ironmongers and other Trades). 5.1/2″ long with a 1.1/4″ wide cutter. Throughout its manufacture it always had a somewhat boat shape as the sides were certainly not parallel as is found on other planes.
The M102 name was officially first introduced in the February 1933 soft cover catalogue along with others of the M line. M presumably standing for Marples not Metal. Interestingly enough the 3105 Block plane persisted alongside the M102 up to the 4/35 catalogue and both at 2 shillings each and I am suggesting that this was merely in order to dissipate overstock of the 3105. The 3105 was therefore available for about 10 years 1925-1935. In 9/36 the M102 the price was raised to 2/6d which persisted to at least 3/40. A ‘revised’ price list of Nov 1951 indicates that the M102 was manufactured throughout the War. After that date catalogues were not issued until approx 1959 by which time separate price lists were in favour due to ever increasing and frequent price hikes. Dec 1949 shows 6/6d, Nov 1951 shows 8/- each, 1961 is at 9/9d and it is at 10/- in the April 1962 Price List. It does not appear in the 1st March 1964 Price List.
What follows here is an attempt to put a sequential order to the 102/3105 plane as changes occurred over time. Under the different headings I will list any perceptible changes that I have found which were different from the previous ‘Type’, but these changes may be updated as new information is discovered. I have difficulty differentiating blade markings as MARPLES had very similar markings used on planes over a 20 year span. Faith should therefore not be placed in the accuracy of these reported marks ( referenced as BM2,BM3 and BM4)
This plane may really be the Type 2 as it does not resemble the pictured article or the box label. This study is therefore not yet finished
No doubt was issued in a box that was labelled 3105. but no number was indicated on the plane itself.
Paint: The body and cap were black japanned but the cap may have been changed to red soon after introduction, but in either case the underside of the cap was not painted on the lower half. Both front and back edges were japanned as was the 3mm diameter crossbar. The mouth slope was clean and had no gullies at either side and the outer sides were also painted Black.
Body: The body is 5.1/2″ in length and 1.5/8″wide at its’ maximum width. Around the front finger ‘button’ is marked in a raised casting the words WM MARPLES & SONS, and SHEFFIELD ENGLAND is similarly cast around the Triple Shamrock behind the cutter seats. The crossbar is pressure fitted and not screwed into one of the sides as is the case in the other larger block planes and there is a half ”cone’ cast onto the middle of the rear edge. The base shows a ‘wavy’ pattern that is only found on Types 1 & 2.
Lever Cap: As stated before may have initially been Black but is more usually found as painted RED, but not on the underside lower half towards the blade contact edge. The 3.2cm diameter wheel is Black japanned and constructed from Brass with 12 large castellations. It has an old transfer on the upper surface which is only seen on Type 1 planes.
Blade: Is 1.1/4″ wide and shows a BM1 type stamping.[Below]
Box and Labels: Not currently known.
Type 2 is probably still named No 3105. This plane is essentially exactly as per Type 1 but the transfer on the Lever cap has been changed to the Round format.
Paint: Black Base with a red/Orange Cap.
Body: Is the same as Type 1
Cap: Is painted Red/Orange with a Round water transfer applied to the palm rest. The underside still shows the lower half to be unpainted.
Blade: May have BM1 BM3 / BM4 markings.
Wheel: The wheel is the major indicator for this Type because it is now cast in Iron with large castellations and painted all black.
Box and Labels: Probably unchanged from Type 1.
Type 3 still does not show any designation that it is an M102 but the increased blade width of 1.3/8″conforms to the M102 description. My assumption is that THIS is the first M102 issued in 1933 and ran alongside Type 2 for 2 years.
Paint: The main body is still painted black all over including the front and rear edges. The Cap is still Red/Orange but now shows no bare metal on the underside.
Body: The Body is now a different new casting but retaining the same dimensions as before…5.1/2″long and 1.5/8″at the widest point of the still boat shaped sides. The raised letter casting at the front around the finger indentation now only reads MARPLES but the raised castings behind the blade support posts are the same…SHEFFIELD ENGLAND surrounding a Triple SHAMROCK. The back slope to the mouth is devoid of paint and there are ‘gullies’ at each side of the slope next to the vertical sides.
Cap: Is now painted Red/Orange all over and the black Wheel still has large castellations. 3.2cm in diameter. The Cap has the Round water transfer applied to the palm rest area.
Blade : At 1.3/8″wide it is stamped with BM3 markings.
Box and Labels: This information is currently not available, but is presumed to be the same as the last Type.
The November 1951 Price List indicates this is for sale at 8/- and I have a boxed example priced at 8/6d. Therefore this Type 4 was in production until at least 1952. NOTE: this issue seems to not show the same ‘quality” as previous Types.
Paint: The body and cap switched colours and the body is now painted RED all over, including the mouth slope and crossbar. The cap is painted BLACK all over. I guestimate from observation of other MARPLES planes that this switch over occurred around 1944 or just immediately after WWII.
Body: Painted Red and is marked MARPLES around the front of the finger indentation and M 102 just in front of the mouth. The body casting is reduced in length to 5.1/4″ (cf 5.1/2″) and slightly less in width to 1.9/16“. The crossbar is much thinner than previously at 2mm. The half-cone, SHEFFIELD, Triple Shamrock and ENGLAND remain at the heel of the plane.
Cap: Is painted Black all over and has the round MARPLES transfer on the palm rest
Blade: Is reduced in width to 1.9/32″ and shows a BM4 impression.
Wheel: Is painted Black all over having a diameter of 2.8cms but now cast with 23 small castellations.
Box and Labels: Has the ‘RED stripe at the top end label ‘and a colourful top label. These labels were probably used since the introduction of the M102.
This is the configuration that stayed in production until the M102 was discontinued c.1962.
Paint: The body remains Red all over except that the mouth slope is not painted, or maybe was ground clean again after painting. The body sides are ground smooth and are now not painted and the Cap remains painted Black.
Body: The body castings have been increased to pre-war sizes at 5.9/16″[5.1/2″] long and 1.5/8″ wide. There are gullies cast at each side of the mouth next to the vertical sides, and the cross-piece is increased back to 3mm in diameter. The photo (below) shows the Type 4 on the left and Type 5 on the right…note the differences.
Blade: Markings are variable, as discussed earlier but my example of this Type shows a BM3 stamping [below] like a Type 3 and is again 1.11/32″wide.
Wheel: Still painted Black all over and having the smaller castellations and at 2.8cms diameter.
Box and Labels: The end label is the same but the Top label has been changed, but very slightly both in colour and font. [Note the lettering in Ltd.] Type 4 is on the left.