The record-breaking Norris mitre plane sold at £16,000.

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In addition to a silver plaque on the front inscribed with the name of the prize-winner, this tool exhibits several features unique to Norris planes. The combined handle and wedge is removed by loosening a brass knob, there is a facility to adjust the handle laterally with a screw on the underside of the wedge, and the handle can be tilted by adjusting a screw at the base, a feature almost certainly inspired by the Stanley 101/4.

Mr Gillet, now aged 83, never used his plane. Instead he kept it in immaculate condition before deciding to sell it as part of the International Tool Auction conducted by Tony Murland Auctioneers (10% buyer's premium) of Stowmarket on August 2. In collecting terms, nothing was missing from the equation as the tool came with copies of the original cabinet-making examination paper, copies of the drawings that won Mr. Gillett the award, and a copy of the letter from the A.S.W. announcing the result. It would, however, said Mr Murland "be almost criminal to ever use it".

Collectors and enthusiasts travelled from America (where the tool market is strongest) simply to see the piece, knowing it could disappear into a private collection and not surface again for 30 years.

There was no point of reference for the auctioneer and the estimate of £20,000-30,000 proved over-ambitious. It sold to a collector of mitre planes at £16,000. The price was declared a new record for a British antique tool and betters the £10,150 bid for a Thomas Falconer ebony coach maker's plough plane at an equivalent sale in 2004.

By Stephanie Harris