I've converted some of the plane dating information found in Patrick Leach's Plane Type Study into an easy-to-use hypertext flowchart.
"You'll never find another like it..." Of course you do!Four categories seem sufficient to describe and roughly date a plane: Pre-lateral for any plane that has no side adjusting mechanism for the cutter, low knob, SW model or tall knob (SW stands for Stanley Works but is usually called Sweetheart) and late models for WW2 vintage and later.Start by reading Patrick Leach's comments on Stanley plane dating. If you thirst for heaps of data on plane dating, visit the Plane Type Study or the Plane Feature Timeline. This page leads you down a hypertext flowchart to determine your plane type.Where there is one there is a better one just around the corner!Terms used: I use "offered" for the approximate years of manufacture.I know of many collectors who have built their collections over 20 or more years and never paid top dollar for a single plane. Stanley planes, even the rarest of the rare, might still pop up at flea markets, garage sales, swap meets, General auctions or on a dusty shelf in a neglected corner of an antique shop. Still the number one source of bargain buying for dealers and collectors alike. Prepare to get stung every now and then but more often than not the risk is well worth taking.