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Wood planes are used to smooth wood or to create wood mouldings. Plane making was a highly specialized trade in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Cesar Chelor, the creator of this plane, was a slave belonging to plane maker Francis Nicholson of Wrentham, Massachusetts. When Nicholson died in 1753, his will contained the following: "As to my Negroman Caesar Chelo considering his faithful service, his tender care, & kind & Christian carriage I do set him free to act for himself in the world & I do will and bequeath unto him his bed and beding, his shift and clothing, his bench & common bench tools, a set of chisels, one vice, one sithe & tackling & ten acres of land to be set of to him at the end of my woodland. . .& on third bart of my timber." (The timber being dried wood ready to be used.) Chelor was then able to stamp his own name on the planes he created, such as the one shown here, which he made in about 1770. In 1758, Cesar Chelor married Judith Russell. The couple had nine children and were part of a larger African American community living in Wrentham. Cesar Chelor died in 1784. Today, there is a "Cesar Chelor Drive" in Wrentham and Chelor's planes are highly valued by historians and collectors.


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