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Walnut mitre plane by Christopher Gabriel – £3800 at Stride & Son.

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Estimated at just £30-40 by Stride & Son (18% buyer’s premium), it attracted numerous bids before selling at £3800.

Gabriel (1746-1809) was a prolific plane maker and, as some of his business and family records survive, a surprisingly large amount is known about his life, first as an apprentice in Falmouth and later as workshop owner in London.

As documented in Christopher Gabriel and the Tool Trade in 18th Century London by Jane and Mark Rees (1997), which reproduces two surviving inventories of Gabriel’s stock, he began the family business in 1770, later moving to a house and workshop in Golden Lane.

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Walnut mitre plane by Christopher Gabriel, with detail of mark shown – £3800 at Stride & Son.

A good number of tools carrying his name survive but Gabriel mitre planes are a rare beast and only a dozen or so are recorded. They assume the box-like form, with wrought iron sides dovetailed to a two-piece steel sole, that remained popular well into the 20th century. Some carry what are thought to be serial numbers: the number 530 to this example would render it a relatively early example.