Thursday, January 12, 2017

An Old German Wooden Plane - Part 3

I thought I'd add a little information about the companies responsible for this plane.
V.C. & Co. Plane with Peugeot Freres iron
I had a tough time finding any information about V. C. & Co., but find it I did.
Identification marks on the German wooden plane
The DRGM wasn't that tough.  I had found a little information, but Bob Demers showed me a reference that solidified it for me.  In "The German Tool and Blade Makers - A Guide To Manufacturers and Distributors, Their Trademarks and Brand Names, 1850–2000", author John Walter indicates that the DRGM signifies a registered design.  DRGM is short for Deutsches Reichs Gebrauchs Muster, or ‘German Empire Utility Design'.  This does not give the same protections as a patent (and was cheaper to apply for than a patent), but it must have given some level of protection to the inventor or manufacturer of the design.

As far as V. C. & Co. is concerned, during an internet search the name vom Cleff comes up. Apparently, V. C. stands for vom Cleff. Subsequent internet search of vom Cleff got me to a Google books item called "A History of German Immigration in the United States and Successful German Americans and Their Descendants".  In it can be found that Robert vom Cleff immigrated to the U. S. from Germany in 1867, when he was about 20 years old.  He founded vom Cleff & Co., which was in business in New York City from about 1873 until 1925 (vom Cleff died in 1907).  The company was in the business of manufacture and import of general hardware, surgical instruments, jewelers tools and pocket cutlery, mostly drawn from Germany and France.  So it might very well be that a German plane maker made the plane for vom Cleff, who imported and sold them under his company's name.

I found several references to vom Cleff on forums related to knives.  Robert vom Cleff may have been in the cutlery business early, maybe as an apprentice before starting his own hardware business.

As for Peugeot Freres, there is some information available.
Peugeot Brothers lion on the arrow
This is the same Peugeot family that eventually made bicycles and cars.  Around 1810, the Peugeot family were millers and tanners.  Two brothers got into the foundry business and steel manufacture. From 1832, the company called "Peugeot Frères Aînés" (Elder Peugeot Brothers) sold tools for carpenters, among other things.

Around 1842, a rift in the family caused a split and another company was formed.  "Peugeot, Japy et Cie" and later just "Peugeot et Cie".  The latter had as it's emblem an elephant.  Around 1851, the original Peugeot Freres started using the lion standing on an arrow as it's emblem.  This was trademarked in 1858.

I found most of this information from a German site referenced in a Collectors Weekly page.  Thanks to the marvel of language translation software I was able to understand what they were saying.

I still don't have a good idea of when the plane and iron were made.  As for the plane, I think there is a good chance it is from 1890 to 1925.  I think the iron may be older, but I can't back that up.  The fact that the iron doesn't look like original equipment for this plane makes me think it was a replacement.

I've never been much into history, but I do find this stuff interesting.  It takes a lot of digging to find the information.


  1. Good job Matt, i tried a quick google search on V.C&Co and came up empty handed.
    One thing that was bugging me was the "& Co" did not sounded German at all.
    Having Vom Cleff imigrated to the US makes senses and explain that.

    I love the research phase of any tools coming into my hands, you never know what you gonna find. The internet opens up a whole lot of materials previously difficult to access, and thanks to google translate and etc we can look at everything.

    The plane construction looks like early 20th century, the Peugeot Frères iron looks older, late 19th century

    Bob, sipping coffee with Rudy trying to sleep on my Ipad

    1. Thanks, Bob. I did actually enjoy the research and I wouldn't have done any of it without the internet. Just wish I had more time for it.

  2. Hi Matt
    Maybe this came in handy about Peugeout brand

    1. Interesting stuff there, Antonio. Thank you. One of the things I had read was about the combined work of the Jackson brothers from England and the Peugeot brothers from France. I wonder if those Jackson brothers were the same family that was involved in Spear & Jackson. This fact hunting can really get you into far reaches.

    2. Matt I don't know about that...
      I do know the Peugeot Family metal working business goes back to late 18th early 19th and back then in Europe things were a bit tense... England helped Portugal kick the French out of here. A bit like over there across the Atlantic.

  3. Matt. I have a block plane that looks exactly like your first image. No name found on the wood block, but the cutting blade has the lion icon with "Peugeot freres agarantie" inscribed. Do you know if there is a market for this?