Woodworking Planes and their Makers

  Another Connecticut Valley Planemaker? by Trevor Robinson  

Not much has been added since the pioneering article on Connecticut Valley planemakers by Sayward and Streeter (Chronicle July 1975, p.21); but in 1996 I believe I came across a possible addition to the list. 

In a lot of old planes found in Greenfield, Massachusetts one name stamp was unknown to me or to any of the usual publications that I consulted.  That was H. L. Hart, whose stamp appeared twice on a Yankee plow (see illustrations).  The two name stamps are not identical. One looks like a makers stamp, having a border and larger letters, the other more like the owners stamp. Since the other planes in the lot were all of local origin, I guessed that H. L. Hart might also be from the Greenfield area.

Consultation of local history documents turned up Holloway Long Hart, born in Shelburne, MA, 4 October 1804, the son of Ebenezer Hart, a farmer, and his wife Esther.  Holloway later moved across the town line to Greenfield, where he is listed in the U. S. Censuses from 1840 to 1870 with his occupation given, variously over that period, as cutlery, knife factory, table cutter, or mechanic.


His brother, Ebenezer Jr., remained all his life in Shelburne and is described in the Census data as joiner or carpenter.  I have not been able to locate Holloway in any records between his birth in 1804 and the 1840 census; and from the style of his plow plane, I guess that it would have been made during this early period of his life.  He had a son born in Shelburne in 1831, and his first wife, Mary, died and was buried in Shelburne in 1835; but the 1830 U. S. Census does not show Holloway living in Shelburne or in any of the surrounding towns of Franklin county.  Where was he then? Since the 1830 Census does not list occupations, even if he turns up somewhere on it, it could not help in establishing him as a planemaker.

H. L. Hart died in Greenfield "of consumption" 12 June 1870 and was buried in Shelburne.  His estate inventory filed in Franklin County Probate records shows nothing to identify him surely as a planemaker, but it does list a chest of joiners tools valued at $7.00 and a workbench.  His real estate in Greenfield was located on the north side of Main Street and east of Federal Street.  It was valued at $3800., and his personal belongings at $3131.52 sizable sums in 1870. 

I am sure that I once saw his stamp on another plane in an auction lot and would welcome reports of any other sightings.

Copyright Trevor Robinson

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