Plane Class

27th July 2019

Plane Class Image

‘Modern craftsmanship’ has become a rare oxymoron in today’s society. How would the great names of design from Chippendale to Morris take say the modern furniture shops of today? Buy it, use it for two years and then get another. There would be much shaking of heads from Sheraton downwards were they to take a trip to an out of town furniture shop this afternoon.

Things don’t seem to have the air of quality about them, now it is just a wardrobe; it does its job, looks okay on the eye, then falls apart. We are indeed a society intent on buying very similar things to our neighbour, of similar quality and producing homes that are all the same and in three years when we tire of our purchases, we start all over again.

The quality craftsperson is a rare breed and it is with the utmost of pleasure to have dealt with a collection of handmade wood planes by the rare master tool designer and maker Karl Holtey that have been constructed to a standard eclipsing any modern or antique tool from the great makers such as Jones or Norris or indeed the furniture that they make.

It is simple to see that the finest raw materials have been used to produce the most exquisite items. By not putting a time or financial barrier on objects and only producing a minimal number of commissions, Karl Holtey has proved there is indeed a live soul to make things of the highest standard, sourcing only the finest materials and reflecting on the old master tool maker’s products and improving on them producing very beautiful and very usable objects..

Importantly, to my eye, the pieces incorporate form and function. In themselves they are beautiful pieces of furniture and although this collection of 18 have never been used, they have been made taking the traditional wood plane onto the next level, beautiful to the eye but also technologically speaking on the highest echelon using modern techniques to produce highly usable items, William Morris would surely be impressed?

The collection itself has been painstakingly accumulated over time by one private collector and includes several types of plane, from thumb, to rebate, smoother to the magnificent illustrated jointer surely one of the finest wood planes produced in history and extremely rare in number with estimates suggesting under ten have ever been made.

It is a marvelous collection and will be sold with a huge quantity of older items all on view at our Grantham Auction Rooms for the sale on October 2nd. For tool collectors it is a must see event, but also they are pieces of furniture in their own right and prove the great traditions of making things to the highest level still remain.

The heartbeat of modern craftsmanship is weak but still there and items of the highest quality continue to be produced by the small number of master designers, which Karl Holtey most surely is.

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