Origin and History of Charles Miller and his Planes

Little is known about Charles Miller Prior to and following his brief employment with the Stanley Rule & Level Co. The Stanley Rule & Level Co. entered the plane manufacturing business in 1869 with the acquisition of Bailey, Chany, & Co., of Boston Mass. manufacturers of Planes and Spokeshaves. The first offering of the planes after this acquisition appeared in the 1870 catalog. The acquisition of other company's, the hiring of talented personnel, introduction of new products and the competitive drive within the company fueled its growth for many years. The focus of this site is on the talents of Charles Miller and his innovative series of planes offered by the Stanley Rule & Level Co. Charles Miller was issued patent number 104,753 June 28, 1870, Stanley secured the rights to produce the planes under his patent and hired Mr. Miller to work in their contract department. The line of Miller's Patent Planes was first offered in the 1871 supplemental catalog. His tenure at the Stanley Rule & Level Co. was just a brief 6 years, after which time no mention is made of him in the company's records. His influence within this brief span of time was significant, the line of Miller's Patent Planes was continued and refined for many decades. He is also responsible for inventing and patenting the #48 and #49 match planes, and for jointly patenting the Victor #14 combination plane with Leonard Bailey (a key figure in Stanley's history and the history of patented planes as we know them). Elements from his designs were incorporated into many of the planes produced by the Stanley Rule & Level Co., more notably would be trademark tote which appeared on numerous planes.

One of Charles Miller's other notable patents was issued in 1872 for a Carpenters Plow plane which was sold by the Russell & Erwin Manufacturing Co. and offered for one year in the company's 1875 catalog. What stands out about all of these planes is the unique beauty that is incorporated into each of them, true masterpieces of casting technology and decorative elements unequaled to this day. What brought the eventual demise of these planes was same innovation and competition that inspired them, the continual introduction of new and cheaper products eventually edged them out of the market. Despite the changing times one evolved form of these planes was offered until 1943. Today these planes are highly sought after by woodworkers and collectors alike, appreciated for their refined graceful lines, decorative castings, and contrasting mix of materials. There are numerous books that provide a more detailed history of the Stanley Rule & Level Co., please refer to the recommended reading section on this site if you would like to learn more.


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