As a rhykenologist
(woodworking plane collector), I often seek unusual planes
to add to my collection. Elaborately carved or decorated
planes are at the top of my list of desirable pieces.
Most often originating from Dutch
and a few other Central European regions, these planes can be
difficult to find and fetch high prices. When I had the chance
to buy this little plane several years ago, I had to grab it.
Planes are utilitarian objects, used for a specific task or to
make a living. To some craftsmen, a hand plane was a significant
object in their lives. Decorating items of importance with
personal symbols or words used to be a common practice.
A craftsman might have decorated
a hand plane
with carvings to show his skill or to make the tool identifiable
as his. Such a plane may also have been made as a gift or family
The plane shown here is chip carved with a strong Christian
motif. It features a cross on a hill on the top front, facing
the user. On the left side of the plane is a symbol for Maria.
The right side of the plane shows the date of 1821. It is easy
to assume that this was the creation date of the plane. However,
I donít think this assumption is necessarily accurate. If we
consider the many reasons for these carvings, then itís easy to
imagine that the date may have a different meaning. It may be
the date of birth of the maker, or the person to whom the plane
was gifted. It also may be another significant family date such
as an anniversary or the year business started to operate.