The Society for the Preservation and Study of American Wooden Planes
The Society For The Preservation And Study of American Wooden Planes
Mark Thompson's On-Line interview with The Sign of the Jointer creator & editor Pat Lasswell
I recently conducted an on-line interview with Pat Lasswell, who in addition to being the VP of our central region, is the creator & editor of The Sign of the Jointer, an excellent journal dedicated to research of American wooden plane makers. Patís journal predates the founding of our group by about a year and a half, in which time he has done some exciting work.
Baldwin; What gave you the idea for The Sign of the Jointer?
Jointer; The journal or the name?
Jointer; Fair enough. The journal came about because Mike Humphrey was ending his publication, The Catalog Of America Wooden Planes. (His journal took over Plane Talk's work)
I couldnít bear to see the flow of information stop. I hoped the Jointer would serve as an outlet or clearinghouse for plane & planemaker information. I hope that is happening.
Baldwin; Iíd say it is. I thought it would be a sad thing to be without a journal about wooden plane. Okay, what about the name?
Jointer; Iíve been very keen about researching and collecting newspaper ads; Caruthers, Niles, Armitage, etc. One early ďfindĒ was an 1787 illustrated ad by John Lindenberger. Not only was this ad unknown (unpublished), but I was also able to purchase this newspaper (The Wings included this ad in an article in Plane Talk). John Lindenbergerís shop in Providence was found ďAt the Sign of The Jointer.Ē I liked the name and of course the reference.
Baldwin;Thatís a great story. There seems to be a different flavor to The Jointer as compared to The Catalog. Was that intentional? How do you see the differences?
Jointer; I think there will be a difference between editors just as Mikeís publication varied from Plane Talk. Mikeís Catalog was great and provided a wealth of information. It was a good model to follow. I like the visual appeal of the planes themselves. What better way to discuss them than to have full sized drawings and plenty of pictures? I have to admit, these hand made planes have a beauty to them. Why not share them and provide possible links and clue, too. It seems like once the information is shared more pours in, so itís best just to get as much as possible out to our fellow collectors and researchers. Who knows what may spark additional knowledge and insight?
One thing Iíve tried to do is get others to write articles such as the one on Jo Williams. As you know, there isnít time to do it all. Besides, there are many experts out there with more knowledge. They have much to contribute. Itís a matter of getting the contribution.
Baldwin; Yes, it is tough. I sometimes find myself spinning from one task to the next. Itís nice when someone pitches in to help (note the poorly disguised solicitation for both journals.)
I notice that you concentrate on 18th century tools. Is that your primary interest or is there some other reason?
Jointer; I am actually a bit reluctant to cover the 18th century as much as I do. Itís both practical and personal. Itís personal because thatís where my interests lie. I donít deny that an 18th century tote can be a thing of beauty! Besides a majority of new information is for early makers.
Itís practical because without articles from others, I tend to reflect on what I think I know. But I would really like to have broader group of topics and articles.
Baldwin; Where do you see the Jointer going in the future?
Jointer; Thatís somewhat hard to, predict. Other than additional coverage of the 19th century, I think a great opportunity lies in a website. New information comes in fits and spurts. With Tom (Elliott)ís book coming out later this year, I rust it will be a watershed for all of us. Most of all , I look forward to greater circulation and contributions from readers. After all, what you and I are trying to do is enrich the world of wooden plane collectors and researchers.
Baldwin; Anything else you think our readers would like to know?
Jointer; More than anything else, I would like folks to come away with a richer appreciation for the earlier days--- to put some flesh on these names and imprints --- to, in some way, fell a link back to the past. Thereís an inherent shared appreciation to the lines, the curves, the beauty of the woods, even though these were just tools to be used.
Baldwin; When I am speaking to a non-collector, I have found that itís easier to equate the plane to a time in history and sort of tell a story. For example, when it is obvious that the planes are just sticks to someone and they canít understand why I would want them, I pull out 3 planes. I explain that the first is possibly the oldest and an import. The second is one that was made in NYC. However, the fellow who made it did not like the way things were going in the city, thanks to a fellow named George and he left New York for the suburbs. He moved in with the fellow who made the third plane.
The first is an I. Cox, the second a Tho. Grant and the third an R. Eastburn. And that was George Washington causing all that trouble. As I have been handing each to them in order, they suddenly realize the history that took place while these tools were used. It gets easier to explain then.
So you feel that your journal is a ďWork in ProgressĒ. I like to suggest to our readers that they keep looking at their collections with critical eye. Iím sure there are still loads of discoveries to be made in the basements and dens of long time collectors. I recently discovered that I had an E.C. Ring with the cyma spindle cartouche!
Jointer; Thatís the truth! A J. Stalltoted molder was recently offered on Ebay by a long time collector. I emailed him that it was a new mark. He was convinced that it was the same as the listing in Pollak III. I pointed out that it was a ďJĒ Stall, not an ďIĒ Stall. Iíve got a rubbing and pictures and new information is provided. Fun, isnít it?
Baldwin; You bet. We were never taught history as anything other than dates and places. When it becomes a living process, it becomes a passion.
Pat Lasswell is the VP for the central zone of The Society as well as the publisher of The Sign of the Jointer.The subscription rate is $10.00 per year. To contact Pat to subscribe;
c/o Sign of the Jointer
6211 Elmgrove Rd.
Spring, TX. 77389
Tele.# 281 251-3121
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