These two molding planes bear the marks of their makers; Cesar Chelor, the earliest documented Black toolmaker in America,and Francis Nicholson, the earliest documented plane maker in America. Chelor lived as an enslaved member of Nicholson’s household and worked alongside Nicholson, who trained him.Chelor may have in fact made the plane bearing Nicholson’s stamp.  

After his death, Nicholson, in his will, granted Chelor his freedom, ten acres of land, and the plane-making shop and tools, enabling Chelor to earn an independent living by continuing to practice the trade.

Molding plane
Cesar Chelor (d. 1784)
Stamped “CE [star symbol] CHELOR / LIVING [star symbol]
Wrentham, Massachusetts; ca. 1770
Wood, iron
Museum purchase 1959.0074.002

Molding plane
Francis Nicholson (1683–1753)
Stamped “F. [star symbol] NICHOLSON / LIVING [star symbol]
Wrentham, Massachusetts; before 1753
Wood, iron
Museum purchase 1959.0074.003