Stanley 32-1/2 rule, how old is it?

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Forum topic by JoeinGa posted 01-11-2013 01:29 PM 16142 views 1 time favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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7741 posts in 2927 days

01-11-2013 01:29 PM

Topic tags/keywords: stanley 32-12 pocket rule folding rule patternmakers rule rule question

Recently I saw a post about folding wood rules. Someone showed a pic of a pocket-size Stanley folding rule. I remembered I had one and finally found it. I did a bit of research on the Interweb and it seems these were made from the 1800s to the mid 1900s. Looking at mine with a magnifier, I see the “usual” markings but I dont see anything that looks like a date code. Anyone know how to date these things?

Here’s mine

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13 replies so far

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#1 posted 01-11-2013 03:06 PM

not sure if this helps

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View MattADK's profile


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#2 posted 01-11-2013 10:46 PM

Would love to know this myself, I’ve been carrying one of these in my pocket for a while now. Unbelievable how often I find it handy to have on me!

-- Matt

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7741 posts in 2927 days

#3 posted 01-11-2013 11:34 PM

I found a link to a guy that has a bunch of info on old Stanley planes. On a chance I emailed him and he asked me to take a good clear pic of the logo on the rule. He sent back that mine was made in the 1930s.

Here’s one of the pic’s I sent him

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View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


16983 posts in 3538 days

#4 posted 02-18-2014 08:34 PM

Looks like the No. 32 1/2 is brass-bound along the edges vs. the No. 32:

Mine’s a bit easier to date because of the SW logo on it. I also agree with Matt, I’ve had this thing in my pocket for a couple days (just got it) and love it. It’s really a beautifully-made tool. Noticed today it has graduations in 8ths, 10ths, 12ths, 16ths and 32nds. Amazing amount of info on this little one-footer.

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Don W

19752 posts in 3487 days

#5 posted 02-18-2014 09:26 PM

joe, I’d disagree with your guy (well my John Walter’s book does anyhow)
They used the SW logo from 1920 to1935. yours looks more like 1903 – 1920.

I can’t attest to which is correct, just telling what I read.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

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7741 posts in 2927 days

#6 posted 02-18-2014 10:20 PM

Hmmm, very interesting. Thanks guys!

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View rubywood's profile


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#7 posted 07-17-2014 05:10 PM

I found one in PA, I love it. Someone said I have a strange infatuation with it.
It’s got the 32 1/2 marking, but no company name at all.
The only other marks on this rule are the number “84” etched in the brass caliper and also notched in the slot the caliper rides in.

Any idea how old this one is. I’m thinking it’s a Stanley due to the 32 1/2, but no name is on it.

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7741 posts in 2927 days

#8 posted 07-17-2014 07:16 PM

rubywood, looking at the pic’s above, you can see how (and where) it is marked with the logo. If yours ONLY has the number and nothing else, I’d guess it might possibly be a “knock-off” .... that said, I wonder

Did anybody make “knock-off” stuff that far back?

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1 post in 2281 days

#9 posted 09-03-2014 11:14 PM

I am new to the group, but collect rules and old layout tools. I started because I whittle chains from basswood and needed a good way to lay it out.
The 32 1/2 is a real nice tool. There is a book called Boxwood and Ivory by Philip stanley that has a lot of info.
The Number on the brass slide and in the groove should match. according to the book since there were hand made, once they were fit together they did not want to separate them because they may not go back together.
” Slides and calipers were graduated separately from the rules to which they were fitted. At first this was done by scribing, in the same way that the wood was marked, but by about 1900 methods had been developed to
stamp the graduations into the metal with a rolling die, at a great saving in time.
Prior to separating the body and slide to graduate them, they were marked, so that each slide could be reunited later with the body it had originally been fitted to. This was done with a number stamped on the back of the slide and an identical number stamped on the inside of the groove. Each rule/slide in a lot would have a different number, thus making identification simple (it is interesting to observe that these numbers all seem to fall in the range 1 to 50; this may indicate that the usual lot size for graduation was 50, and
thus, by implication, that the graduating machines could only handle 50 rules at a time).
The Arch joint indicate after 1910-1912 because it is rounded allow a machine to cut it instead of using a chisel. I found the book in PDF somewhere, but it is real interesting to read.

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7741 posts in 2927 days

#10 posted 09-04-2014 08:25 PM

Thanks for the info Whittler111

And Welcome to LJs!

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1 post in 1835 days

#11 posted 11-24-2015 03:45 AM

I am brand new to group and have a question regarding a boxwood type folding ruler. I purchased off of Ebay for a friend who is a master carpenter, but would like to know more about it. It’s very similar to the picks in this thread so I believe it is a Stanley. It’s 12” open and 3 1/4” closed. What makes it unusual is there is no manufacturer’s name on it at all, and also no graduations or numbering on the outside; only on the inside. It does have the number “79” stamped on the inside of the caliper, and in the notch; but the caliper is only readable from the inside. I’ve been researching online for about 2 weeks with little resolve as to the approximate date it was made,....and by who. Any help or link to other resource would be appreciated. is no longer.

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#12 posted 07-02-2017 03:27 PM

Hello,& I hope everyone is enjoying and appreciating their 4th July weekend, we tax paying Americans certainly deserve it this year, I’m writing this post to possibly find out what year my Boxwood 32½ is, and potentially what it’s value might be on the open market.

Now, I’m guessing it was fabricated in the 1920’s my buddy says it’s from earlier than that, he is speculating 1890’s We shall see . Or at least I hope we see!

Now as far as worth goes, I know it’s worth is “what it means to me that matters most” & the sentimental value most definitely weighs any monetary value, however my same buddy insists that this is a rare tool that I shouldn’t be using on a daily basis as I do & intend to keep doing, and it’s worth all kinds of money like $150-$200 bucks.
Thank you in advance for any help forthcoming

I disagree with him & I think it is worth about $25 bucks. Now we would like to enlist the help of the professionals on this page to help us settle this debate,


I’ve seen several on Ebay around 90 – 120 but those were not actual #32½ they either do not have the solid brass wrapping around the outside of the rule or the number on the slide caliper doesn’t match up, So I’m guessing these are a bit more rare, than we are being led to believe

Rubywood I really wish you had posted a photo of the front of your 32½

View Johnny7's profile


506 posts in 2010 days

#13 posted 07-02-2017 04:43 PM

An important step in any appraisal is establishing the year of manufacture.

Your best bet is the Manufacturer’s logo/trademark.

These change over time, and are useful in bracketing the approximate age of the tool.

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