Mathieson had taken over
Manner's business in 1822 and started his adventure into
plane making which would lead to the most successful
toolmaking empire in Scotland.
I introduced some of the early history of Alexander Mathieson
through his relationship with late 18th and early 19th-century
planemaker John Manners.
Mathieson’s company expanded slowly
in the first half of the 19th century. The Scottish census of
1841 listed Alex Mathieson as a “master plane-maker.” By 1851,
census records show that he had eight employees, one of whom was
his son Thomas Mathieson. Thomas had joined the business and
listed as a “journeyman plane-maker” since 1841 when he was only
15 years old.
The era of mid-1800’s was the
beginning of the Mathieson business expansion, which occurred
through a series of important business acquisitions, and Thomas
played an important role in this growth.
The first significant business acquisition that Mathieson made
was in 1849 when he took over the firm of James and William
Stewart. James and William are believed to be brothers, and sons
of John Stewart, who had started his plane making business in
By 1848, the Stewarts had built a huge business in Edinburgh,
and Goodman described their business as a “prolific makers and
the leading plane makers in Edinburgh” (BPM from 1700 3rd
Edition). The plane made by Stewarts and shown below is
certainly a testament to the high quality of their work.
This plane is a double iron, ogee and quarter round profile
plane. Double iron planes (and triple and quadruple for that
matter) are not necessarily wider than some single iron planes.
The advantage is that they are supposed to be quicker to sharpen
and set then wide complex single iron moulding planes.
The ogee and quarter round profile has been used on all types of
mouldings, from window and door trim to decorative trim on
furniture. The plane features a very deep fence to register the
plane to the proper spring angle and guide it along the edge of
the work. The spring lines are still very clearly visible on the
front of the plane.
By its features, we can tell that this is likely an earlier
plane made by Stewart. The 5/16” wide flat chamfers are typical
of British planes made in the mid to late 1700’s. Rounded
chamfers had typically become the norm by about 1780; however,
this change may have come a bit later in Scotland.