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  Madox, Tracy, and Bown Connection 1 of 3  

It comes down to questions often asked about dating moulding planes and the nuances and fashions which were evolving in in the 18th century...



For my 60th birthday, Matthew Platt of this fine parish gave me a lovely snipe bill moulding plane by William Tracey, Colbrook St., Winchester - <1774-1820. As Matthew mentioned, Tracey went on to take an apprentice Benjamin Bown, later on St Cross, Winchester <1781-1816, effectively training his competition. It is also interesting to note that Tracey himself was apprentice to the prolific London maker William Madox, Peter St., Westminster, London - 1748-1775.

So why you may ask do I bring all these relationships up?

Well it comes down to questions often asked about dating moulding planes and the nuances and fashions which were evolving in in the 18th century and before standardization was fully established by the mid-19th century.

Two key dating factors are length and finial shape but can not always be used for precise dating as we shall see. Madox was a key London maker and his planes are commonly found. Tracey would almost certainly have made planes under his name.

Today I received a stunning No.2 round by Madox and at first I thought the wedge had been replaced, since it was not the normal round finial common on Madox planes. I pulled another Madox to prove this. In the image below we can see that so round is this early Madox that it actually bears the divider scribe marks of part of a circle. S why then does the old Madox I received today have an oval finial but early 10" length?

Sitting on my bench was the Tracey plane and I was immediately drawn to the similarity in the finial shapes.

So this is my theory. Tracey made this latest Madox plane and was aware of modern trends away from round finials. When he moved to Winchester to set up on his own, this style went with him and at the same time he started making the shorter 9-1/2" standard length. In summary, these three makers are excellent examples of the evolving fashion of moulding plane designs, a living history in my hands!

Top: the Madox I received today sitting on top of the later
work of his apprentice Tracey.

The stunning lines of the Madox with oval wedge finial.

The later Bown, again, the Tracey's finial style is present!

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