One of the interesting things is that these clones usually have some form of identifying mark somewhere on the body of the plane – usually hidden. Here is a prime example : The 3704 actually has the imprint “306-16” on the body under the blade – implying it is a No. 306. Not also on these planes that the Sargent equivalent Hand-y grip depressions are less elliptical than the ones on the Sargent planes. The lever cap has both 306 and 307 on it.
Sometimes the trademark used on the blade can be used to identify the approximate manufacture date. Here is the trademark on the blade from the No. 3732. Next to it is the original wavy CRAFTSMAN trademark from 1927, implying that the plane is likely an early model Craftsman.
Compare this to the trademark of the No.3704. The “BL” which appears on both blades is likely an identification marker which tags the plane as being sourced from Sargent.
Now consider a Dunlap No. 3701. Looking at the plane, it is a little over 7″ in length. On initial inspection it looks like a Sargent No.217, although the 217 is 7 1/2″ in length. When dismantling the plane, there is an imprint on the body below the blade, 217-16, implying that it is likely a No.217 – especially as many 217’s are not 7 1/2″ in length.
Here’s a Sargent No.217 for comparison:
Here’s a Fulton – which looks somewhat like a later model Sargent No.107. The “Fulton” brand was the most frequently mentioned tool brand in the Sears catalogs of the pre-Craftsman era.
Should you buy a clone? Why not, there’s nothing wrong with them. Everybody likes to collect Stanley, but just because Stanley sold lots of planes doesn’t mean they were the only ones on the market (or the best). Montgomery Ward also used clones in their Lakeside and Ward Master lines. Stanley made planes for the Keen Kutter line of E. C. Simmons Hardware, as did Sargent (again identifiable by the mouth adjustment mechanism).
Sargent also made planes for Great Neck (Great Neck Plane Co.), and Winchester (Winchester Repeating Arms Co.).