Identifying Antique Stanley Marking Gauges


The following are some of the markings commonly encountered on antique Stanley marking gauges. It is by no means a complete listing of every mark, but it hits most of the common ones.

I have also attempted a basic chronology of the marks, but it should be stressed that many of these are just educated guesses. For marks which were used on other Stanley tools, I have assumed that the time-frame of use was the same. For marks that are unique to marking gauges, I have made my best guess based on features and commonality of markings.

Eagle Mark: 1859-1860

Identifying Antique Stanley Marking Gauges

The Stanley Eagle (a.k.a the “chicken” for obvious reasons) is the earliest marking that I know of on Stanley marking gauges. It is always found on the side or back of the head. This mark is quite rare, and gauges with this logo will typically bring a premium price from collectors.

Mark known on: #80, #90.

Mark assumed on: #75, #76, #78, #79.

1862 Patent Mark: 1862-1870’s

Identifying Antique Stanley Marking Gauges

The patent referred to on this mark is U.S. Patent #36973 by Frederick Traut (father of Justus Traut, holder of many Stanley patents). This is the original patent for the 2-armed mortise gauge. This mark is always found on the topmost arm of a 2-armed gauge, near the non-point end.

Mark known on: #71, #74.

Mark assumed on: #72.

1872 Patent Mark: 1872-1880’s

Identifying Antique Stanley Marking Gauges

The patent referred to on this mark is U.S. Patent #132421 by Justus Traut. This patent covers several enhancements, notably the “mustache” wear plate and the brass shoe. This is a stamped mark (as opposed to an inked mark), and is always found on the front of the head above the bar, and in most cases it is printed upside down.

This mark was obviously hand stamped, as it is usually crooked and off-center.

Mark known on: #64, #65, #66, #73, #77, #78, #79.

Mark assumed on: #64-1/2, #67, #68, #70, #76.

1873 Patent Mark: 1873-1880’s

Identifying Antique Stanley Marking Gauges

The patent referred to on this mark is U.S. Patent #141475 by Justus Traut, which covers the adjustable point used on Stanley gages. This is a stamped mark (as opposed to an inked mark), and is always found on the side of the bar near the non-point end.

Mark known on: #62, #64, #65, #66, #70, #85-1/2.

Mark assumed on: #64-1/2, #85.

Large STANLEY: 1885-1890’s

Identifying Antique Stanley Marking Gauges

This is a hand-stamped mark using very large (> 1/4″) letters. It is always found on the front of the head over the bar.

Mark known on: #64-1/2, #65, #66, #72, #77, #92.

Mark assumed on: Entire line?

Block STANLEY: 1890’s-1905

Identifying Antique Stanley Marking Gauges

This is an inked mark of Stanley in block letters. It is always found on the side of the bar near the non-point end.

This mark and the next were used at approximately the same time. I am not positive which mark came first, but my guess is this one.

Mark known on: #61, #64, #65, #70-1/2.

Mark assumed on: #0, #61-1/2, #62, #64-1/2, 70, perhaps others.

3-Line Mark: 1905-1920’s

Identifying Antique Stanley Marking Gauges

This is a 3-line mark that is found inked on boxwood and beech gages, and stamped on rosewood gages. It is found on the side of the head on mortise gages, on the side of the bar near the non-point end for marking gages, and above the bar on the front or back of the head on panel gages.

It is my opinion that this mark was used at approximately the same time as the “V” mark was used on Stanley’s planes and levels, but again, it’s just a guess.

Mark known on: #65, #68, #70, #70-1/2, #73, #77, #85, #85-1/2.

Mark assumed on: #0, #61, #61-1/2, #62, #64, #64-1/2, #76, #92

Sweetheart Mark: 1922-1923

Identifying Antique Stanley Marking Gauges

This is the first of the sweetheart marks– Note that the heart extends into the rectangle. Assuming Stanley used approximately the same marks on all of their tools, this mark can be accurately dated to the first few years of the SW era.

This is an inked mark, and is always found on the side of the bar near the non-point end.

Mark known on: #61, #64-1/2, #65, #70, #72.

Mark assumed on: #0, #62, #64-1/4, #65-1/2, #70-1/2, #71, #264-1/2, #265

Sweetheart Mark: 1924-1930

Identifying Antique Stanley Marking Gauges

This is the second and most common of the sweetheart marks. This mark is identical to the earlier one, only the heart does not extend into the rectangle.

This mark has been also been reported as a stamped mark on the back of the head on a #77. This is the only instance I know of this mark on a rosewood gage.

Mark known on: #0, #61, #62, #65, #64-1/2, #68, #70, #73, #77, #264-1/2, #265.

Mark assumed on: #64-1/4, #65-1/2, #71, #72

Sweetheart Mark: 1930-1936

Identifying Antique Stanley Marking Gauges

This is the last of the sweetheart marks. It is basically identical to the previous mark, but it uses a different font for the number.

This is kind of an odd mark, as it appears that the two parts of the mark are applied at different times. The number is usually much lighter than the rest of the logo, and it is often slightly mis-aligned.

Mark known on: #61 #64-1/2, #65, #65-1/2, #265.

Mark assumed on: #0, #62, #64-1/4, #70, #71, #72, #264-1/2

Notched Rectangle: 1936+

Identifying Antique Stanley Marking Gauges

This is the last of the Stanley marks, used until very recently.

Mark known on: #0, #61, #65, #72.

Mark assumed on: #62, #64-1/2, #65-1/2, #70, #71

8 thoughts on “Identifying Antique Stanley Marking Gauges

  1. Hello,

    As a cabinetmaker’s apprentice in the mid-1970’s I collected a number of early woodworking tools. One was the Stanley #77 mortise gauge. The gauge I have best matches the 1872 Patent Mark, but is stamped as PAT. OCT. 22. 72. and is slightly off center and up-side-down above the bar. How long was the abbreviated patent date used?

    Thank you, Tom

    1. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find any information as far as when the full “PATENTED 1872” was used vs. the abbreviated “PAT 72” stamp. Sorry to disappoint. Be sure to comment here if you are able to find more specific dates and I’ll add it to the post to help others.

      Good luck, and thanks for the comment!

    2. I think I have the same one. There is no indication on it that it is a Stanley gauge; however, it has the distinct Patent Mark that has staple Patent Oct 22 1872. Can I send a picture to you? Maybe you have found more info on it. It is my great grandfather’s and only passed on in my family.

  2. I acquired a marking gauge a few years ago. I always thought it was unmarked as I could not see anything on it. It is quite well used and lots of “patina”. I just scrounged another one today at an estate sale and it is clearly marked Stanley. It’s a #65 and is the three line version. I was researching it and stumbled on your informative website. Now that I know where to look, my first gauge that I thought had no markings turns out to be a Stanley Sweetheart #77.
    The second version where the heart does not go into the “Stanley” box. I had to look very hard to find it but it is there.
    You stated in your article that you have only known of one o.f these. Now you know of a second one. I am very happy to know what I have now finally. Thanks much for your research and article,
    Al

  3. I have been google searching information on a marking gauge I have. Your information has been very helpful for coming up with a date of manufacture. It looks like my gauge has the 1905-1920s mark. What I haven’t been able to find much on is the model number 177. I see many 77s and almost every other number.
    Any help is appreciated

  4. Great information; thanks for all your hard work.
    I just found a marking gauge, a no. 73, with the first sweetheart mark very clearly stamped on the back of the head. The mark is identical to your illustration of the 1922-1923 mark.
    The wood is a light coloured, clear dense hardwood, I’m going to guess it’s beech, and has all brass fittings.

  5. I own a rosewood stanley sweetheart #77 marking gauge with the heart extending into the “stanley” box. like the 1922-1923 logo

  6. I just picked up a No 77 rosewood gauge here in Australia for $12 it has the heart extending into the Stanley box per the 1922-23 marking description. It also has “No” on the left side and then “No. 77” on the right of the heart. The “made” marking is heavily stamped and the in USA is faint.

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