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JOEL Joel's Blog

What Do You Know about Arthur Price?

01/13/2008 The Last of the Infill Planemakers

What Do You Know about Arthur Price? 4Here is a picture of two nearly new infill planes. Both are cast, one is a shoulder plane, the other a bullnose plane. Both planes are of the style of London and both were made by Arthur Price.
Who was Arthur Price?

Very little is known about Arthur Price, which is astonishing since he worked within living memory of many of the older tool collectors in England. According to "British Planemaker's from 1700" (3rd edition, Goodman, Jane and Mark Rees) Price was working from 1924 - 1967 and only made small cast planes such as the shoulder and bullnose plane illustrated above. According to an price list from about 1950 (reproduced in the TATHS newsletter #10 the shoulder plane above cost 1/5/0 and the 1" bullnose plane isn't listed but a 1 1/4" one was 17/6. What's interesting to me is who was Arthur Price and for such a long period of work how come not too many of his planes turn up?

What Do You Know about Arthur Price? 5A box of his patterns, a few unfinished planes, and some oddments are housed in the Hawley Collection. As far as I know the only set of relics of any of the infill planemakers.

Of these two planes the bullnose is unused and has a 1 1/8" iron in it. While it would be easy to grind the blade down to fit it wouldn't be anything a maker would sell as is except to clear inventory. As it happens when Price stopped working apparently lots of unfinished tools were sold off. It's probable that this plane is one of those. The pattern is identical to those of Norris.

The shoulder plane is a standard cast shoulder plane in the London style but isn't flat.

It is generally accepted that Price was working after Norris, Spiers, and Mathieson stopped making infill planes and he was the last of the traditional infill plane makers. It certainly must have been a tough living. That he worked alone or nearly alone would have been pretty typical of the smaller makers, Slater was a solo maker also but questions still linger. Did he have other jobs? In his early days did he do work for other London plane makers? Where did he learn the trade? All of these are interesting questions for which I don't know the answer. If you have any information on Arthur Price I would love to hear from you.

Join the conversation
04/23/2008 Frank Drew

I found your page through a Google search for anything about Authur Price.

In 1984, I bought a gunmetal sided/steel-soled rosewood infill shoulder plane from Roy Arnold (Needhamn Market) that he said was made by Arthur Price, but it has a slightly fancier profile than the steel shoulder plane you picture, in addition to what appears to be a higher quality infill. So I'm not positive it is from Mr. Price; there's no maker's stamp or other identifying marks on the plane body. If I can get a friend with a digital camera to take a picture of it I'll try to send it to you via e-mail.


Frank Drew
03/10/2009 Stuart Hill
The gunmetal plane had a different profile from the steel castings. I sold/exchanged about twenty iron or steel castings to Tony Murland together with a load of the old Arthur Price sales/price sheets in about 1990 - the steel version of the plane is rather heavy and cumbersome compared with the gunmetal for the same width of iron. The gun metal shoulder plane sits in the hand very nicely. Philip Walker bought out the remains of Arthur Prices stock in about 1980 or 1981 - if I recall rightly the workshop was in the East end of London and Price had used a manually driven steel spike and pulley wheel contraption to 'mill' the castings to finished size which would have been heavy going so I imagine his output was very limited and would not keep up with a modern machine tool shop.


Stuart Hill
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