The ‘BB’ Series of Wooden Planes [see that section]produced by MARPLES was introduced as machine made tools to take over from the hand made ‘Shamrock Brand‘ planes, because there was a declining number of craftsmen who could produce those planes by hand. Around March 1964 or shortly thereafter the whole BB line of planes was discontinued. The MARPLES Tools Catalogue No.15 was issued in early 1965 and BB planes are not shown. However, in their place is a newly introduced line of Wooden planes under the Headings of BENCH PLANES, Standard, Beechwood and SPECIAL PURPOSE Planes, Beechwood.
These planes must have been machine made, like the BB planes, but finding examples today is difficult because they were not manufactured for very long. They are all available in the May 1966 Price List, but all except #2696 and #2697 are shown as withdrawn in the November 1969 Price List. I can find few of the newer Price Lists to gather any more details. The older Price Lists seem to be more available due to the fact that in those days [before 1965?] it was not a ‘throw away’ society!!
I do have a good example of the Toy Plane #2694 which has an unmarked blade of 1.1/2″ wide. It is one of the few planes that MARPLES issued as ‘polished’…I do not know why! Note the applied MARPLES sticky transfer on the wedge. c.1968? But from this one example I must deduce that this line of planes was stamped on the toe end with the same MARPLES stamp as was used on the ‘Shamrock’ hand made planes.
So how do you tell the difference between this line of later machine made planes and the earlier hand made ‘Shamrock’ brand planes?? Except for the ‘Toy’ plane this is easy. In the mouth area of the base there is a slot cut to accomodate the nut head that secures the blade to the cap iron. In a machine made tool this slot has a rounded ‘routed out’ lower end, whereas with the hand made plane this slot terminates in a squared off end, produced by a hand chisel.