TURNSCREWS later known as SCREWDRIVERS.

From the catalogues it appears that ‘Turnscrews‘ were one of the earliest tools manufactured by   Wm. Marples and the earliest reference I have is the 1846 Broadsheet shown here:

By the time we get to the 1861/2 Catalogue the range has increased somewhat, but keeping the same prices:

The 1873 Catalogue shows these pages:

1897 Catalogue:

1909 Catalogue:

1921 Catalogue:

1928 Catalogue:

1938 Catalogue:

1959 Catalogue:

1965 Catalogue:

1971 Pocket catalogue and Supplement:

The Two Tables presented below represent the Screwdrivers listed by both Description and then Item Number.   The third Table describes the Short Forms used to describe the items therein listed.

The Table [below] shows the Item # against the Description and an estimate of the Years that model was available.  Again, it must be noted that the years given are the years that the Screwdrivers can positively be identified in Catalogues and therefore were probably available slightly before and after the dates given.

                                  GALLERY of SCREWDRIVERS:

I believe this first example is one mentioned in the 1846 sheet.
‘Cast Steel Bright London Pattern, let in strong Brass ferrule, Ebony handled’

This next Turnscrew is I believe only mentioned in the 1897 Catalogue as #723 a Gent’s Fancy Turnscrew  2.1/2″-4″. Also stated as being made of ‘Best Hardwood’ this example shows Rosewood.

The earlier screwdrivers of this type had a longer ‘cylinder’ above the ferrule, shown below, the earlier being at the top:

Above is Item#1997 Engineer’s Square Shank 1938-1965.                                                                                              This one is War Dept. from 1952.
Below is another 6″ #1997 and a 1.3/4″ example which is not shown in the main catalogues of 1938 or 1959. It is however marked WD 1952, so this size may have been short lived.

Above is Item #2016 Radio Screwdriver and was available in assorted colours of [Age variable] Brown, Green and Red. 1931-1971
Later versions were Black, Green and Red.
Lengths changed with years:
1938    2.3/4″
1959-71    3 or 4″

Below are Items #1988 Round Blade [Electricians’] Screwdriver with Insulated Plastic Moulded handle. 1931-1971
4″ Black
5″ Green
6″ Red
8″ Black

Here below is what I believe is Item# 1977  Dumpy Electricians’ Screwdriver.                                                   These were available 1955-1965 and this example is a later one.


At first glance just a Screwdriver, but  in reality a great ‘turnscrew’ for adjusting the Cap Iron/Cutter screw on plane blades, but was described as a ‘Short, Strong Flat-Blade Motor Turnscrew‘. Beech Handle.
Available #1972 (1909 Cat.) 1.1/2″-2.1/2″.
Available #1992 (1928-1938 Cats) as 1.1/2″-3″.
Available #1992 (1958 Cat.) as 1.1/2″-2.1/2″ .
Not shown in the 1965 Catalogue.


A Short Cabinet blade Motor Turnscrew is first found in 1909 as Item #1973A:

At that time is could be had as 1.1/2″ ; 2″ and 2.1/2″. It was always a Worked Oval Beech handle.
In 1928 it was re-numbered to #1995 and a 3″ size was added to the range. The 1938 Catalogue shows exactly the same listings and it was not until the 1959 Catalogue that we see that only a 2.1/2″ size was available.

I have no doubt that the range was reduced starting in the War years. It was last listed in the Nov. 1963 Price List.  Note the bulbous nature of the blade:

Above is an Old and trusted Screwdriver pattern #1950. LONDON PATTERN
Beech handled and Brass Hooped  1897-1965+
Sizes by years:
1897-1909:     3;4;5;6;7;8;9;10;12;14;16;18″
1921:                  3;4;5;6;7;8;9;10;12″
1928-1938:     3;4;5;6;7;8;9;10;12;14;16;18″
1959:                 3;4;5;6;7;8;10;12″
1965:                 4;6;8;10″
These are GREAT screwdrivers!

Below is Item #1985 Electrician’s Round Blade Black Fluted Hardwood handle with Steel Ferrule.
Available 1938-1959+
1938:   1.5;2;2.5;3;4;5;6;8;10″
1959:   3;4;5;6;8;10″

Below are #1984 Electricians’ Round Blade Turnscrew which was re-numbered from #1976 in 1928.
Available 1909-1965. Octagonal Boxwood handle with a Brass Ferrule.
Earliest variety has 2 incised rings at the top and bottom of the Octagon. [Top in the photo below]
The ‘MARPLES, SHEFFIELD ENG.’ impression is shown in the 1959 Catalogue and was probably in effect before that.  The second style is shown in the middle of the photo and has 2 incised rings at the top of the Octagon and 2 down close to the Ferrule. [Also see photo below that gives a better view].  The third style has  1 incised ring at the top of the Octagon and 2 two rings down close to the ferrule.[below]

The newest 4th style shown above has 1 incised ring just below the octagon and one above.    The blade is first described as being 3/16″ in the 1938 Cat.
As can be seen in the above Catalogue pages, the length of the blade did vary widely with time, from 1.1/2″ to 10″.   [I may have to re-visit this issue soon as it may not be totally correct]

Below is shown the short lived Item# 1989 Electricians’ “Safety Turnscrew”.  Introduced in April 1935, it lasted until 1938+ .

Here is another short lived Electrician’s Turnscrew numbered #1979.1/2 ‘Electrician’s light Cabinet Turnscrew with Octagonal Boxwood handle and brass hoop’. It had an almost ‘London Pattern’ handle but without the bulbous end and came in inch sizes from 3″ to 10″ but and can only be found in the 1928 and 1938 catalogues, wherein both listings are exactly the same:


Item #1966 [above] is a Turned Oval Ash Cabinet screwdriver with a Steel Ferrule . Marked on the handle with a Black Semi-Oval MARPLES mark and having a Brown ‘hat’!
The 2 examples shown here above illustrate that they were manufactured with both a stamped mark or an electro-etched mark and are seen in the 1971 Catalogue.  They were probably a replacement for #1967 which had a Turned Oval Beechwood handle.[below]

This #1967 was available 1909-1965+ and was replaced by #1966 around 1971.  The SEOVAL mark on the handle is in Silver. But below is a later example having the same inscription in BLACK.

The very latest examples of #1967 show that the Ferrule is now steel with Chrome plating but the blade is not marked at all. [below] . This is probably from around the latter part of production of the #1967 …..c.1978.

Item #1968 is a Turned Oval Boxwood Handled Cabinet Screwdriver with Steel Ferrule.  Similar in all respects to #1966 and available 1909-1971+ it again is to be found with stamped and/or electro-etched markings and Black SEOVAL mark .
Sizes are to be found in the Catalogue listings.

There were 2 different fonts that show the differences from the ‘stamped’ [S] variety and the ‘etched’ variety [E].   Not only were the [S] earlier and with better Boxwood but they had a different script to the later [E] variety. The top photo below shows the [S] is more upright…  (the ‘M‘ in MARPLES has a more vertical style ) whereas the other ‘M‘ in the later [E] variety has the M in MARPLES showing the legs splayed outwards. Basically on the  same length Screwdriver the earlier variety [S]  will have a shorter length script on the handle. [See all of this below]

In the 1909 Catalogue there appears a slim screwdriver, Item #1977 ‘Electrician’s Cabinet-blade Turnscrew’, worked-oval Boxwood handled.  In 1928 this item# became #1983 [available 3″-10″].  This was a much slimmer version of it’s larger brother Item#1968.  It endured thus until c.1965. Below is the larger #1968 {above} with the Slimmer #1983 {below}

Below that again are the two stamped marks on each side of the blade close to the shoulder of #1977, and there was no order as to what inscription was to be in line with the MARPLES stamp on the wooden handle.

Midget or Lock Turnscrews were available 1928-1965  in sizes 1″; 1.1/4″ and 1.1/2″[only the latter in 1965]. Item# 2010 had hardwood handles and 2010B had Beech handles. Presumably therefore #2010 [more expensive] may have been Rosewood. Below is #2010B at 1″ and having room only for a stamp ‘Marple & Sons
Below is another example of #2010B:

The Ratchet screwdrivers shown below # 1994 had ‘worked-oval’ handles and available 3″-10″ long  1959-1965.  These are later examples.

Here above is a perfect set of ‘SlimGrip‘ screwdrivers.
Item #1964. is shown in the 1965 Catalogue and may have been available for only a short time before/after that date.
Splitproof and Flameproof handles were available only in 4″; 6″ and 8″sizes as shown here.

Above is an old Copper engraved printing block from probably c.1900.


Item #1986 [above] was available c.1955-1971.  ‘Electrician’s Round Blade screwdriver with Transparent ‘Splitproof’ Handle. The 1959 Cat. shows an available range of 3-10″ [above] but by 1965 this had been reduced to 4,6 and 8″ only. The picture above shows a full Red handle but this was changed  to the well known Splitproof yellow and red handle later [below]

Item #1976 Round Blade Turnscrew with ‘Splitproof’ Transparent Handle moulded on to Flanged Blades. [ with Cross-Ground Point] was available c.1955-1969.  Available initially in 4″ [1/4″ shaft]; 6″ [5/16″]; 8″ [3/8″] and 10″ [3/8″] in 1965 only the 4″;6″ and 8″ are offered. The last listing that I can find for these screwdrivers is in the Price List of 1st November 1969. See photos below:

Below is Item#2015 which was available c.1931-1940. ‘Radio Turnscrew’.     It had a 2.3/4″ blade length and a knurled Ebonite handle.

The Screwdriver below I can identify in the 1897 Catalogue where it is described as a ‘Cabinet Turnscrew ‘Firmgrip‘ with Boxwood handle’.           Item # 709 available 3″-10″. The one shown here has the early Registration ‘Diamond’ which would place it pre-1884, but it is not shown in 1873.          In 1921 it is described as having a ‘Fluted handle’and available 3″-12″.          It remained in production until c.1935.

The Screwdriver below is an oddball!  It was manufactured specifically for the War Dept and is dated 1941 but does not appear in any MARPLES catalogue. The shaft is made of BRASS and I must surmise that it was to be used in Munitions factories because it could not ‘spark’.  Unfortunately the end of the blade has been misused.

The Screwdriver set [below] is numbered #2002 and had a Phillips head on one end and a Flat screwdriver on the other end, the ‘blade’ being  reversible in the handle.  I can first find it listed in the Catalogue No.15 of 1965 but then the Price List of 1st Nov 1969 indicates that this product was ‘Withdrawn‘.

So it was introduced just before 1959 and withdrawn around 1969.

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