NotThePainter, that was scary and before my coffee, but he did make some good points.
1890, I searched spokeshave - good luck. Actually, it’s not that bad. You’ll find wood, wood kits, and cast iron (gray is cheaper, ductile has greater impact resistance - most don’t specify, except Verita uses ductile; another term is annealed, which improves machinability). You’ll find models where the blade can be adjusted and fixed blade that are adjusted by changing the toe or leading edge; there is also a low angle variety.
To avoid a treatise, I’ll divide into categories: 1) Practical that are easy to disassemble to sharpen, easy to adjust, and easy to find parts. 2) Designs that are aesthetically pleasing, light, maybe a joy to use, but require a learning curve to adjust and even more skill to sharpen the blade). 3) Specialty tools with convex and concave soles or rounded to scoop out hollows. I’ll ignore discussions about all but the 1st category, because you wouldn’t be reading this if you had the skill to set them up and use them.
In my limited opinion, the most practical and popular design is Stanley 151; apparently, there was no patent filed. The top 10 spokeshaves were all the 151 design, which is laughable because they were all knock offs priced in the $15 to $38 range. Descriptions were pointless babble listing hard steel, replaceable blade, adjustable, solid construction, epoxy finish and other buzz words. A noteworthy design is the Stanley 51, an economy version, but I don’t think its being produced. A friend owns one, and I tuned his along with mine. The blade is carbon steel but only about 1/16th inch thick. A drawback is the lacks of easy adjustability, but it works and can be picked up at a flea market, if its cheap.
I’m reluctant to buy mail order, unless an actual brand and current production model can be handled and inspected. Review the above posts to get an ideas of areas to inspect and things to look for. If you find a tool, post a pictures of target areas and ask for comment. If you buy used. Look for cracks, chips, stripped screws, warped parts (check on a flat surface). Inspect blade to see if it’s uneven, angled, rounded or too short to be useful. Blue discoloration shows it overheated during grinding, and the temper will be compromised. A blade for a Stanley 151cost between about $8 and $28. The standard blade is about 3/32nd inch, a Veritas is about 1/8th inch. Get the heavier blade. The cheapest blade will be high carbon; a better blade will be called tool steel, which has a higher alloy content to make the steel harder without being too brittle, to resist abrasion from wood with high mineral content, or a proprietary steel like Veritas PM-V11 which costs more, but claims the edge lasts twice as long before dulling, and it hones as easily as the 01 and A2 steel.
If buying new, the choice is the $22 to $48 price range, or the high end tools from Lee Valley or Lie-Nielsen in the $150 range. If you buy a $14 tool, the question is whether you saved $8 or threw away $14 (see the above video). A $22 tool can be tuned to shave smoothly, and it’ll serve you for life. A $150 tool can be used right out of the box. You might be so impressed, you’ll buy a tool sock and sleep with it.
The difference is quality cast iron, accurate machining, thick flat tool steel blade (± .00005 inch), a hand flattened bed, adjustment knobs/screws with minimal backlash, and a polished sole. There are surely better brands, but who cares. The main difference is that Veritas uses adjusters similar to the Stanley 151 model (picture shows Stanley blade with an enclosed cutout; Veritas has open edges; the thin blade is an example of a low angle blade for the wood tool).
Lie-Nielsen relies on screws to apply pressure to the blade to lock it down. They recommend adjusting it by putting a shim under the toe, to gap the blade from the surface and tightened ? ? ? On the Veritas, turn the adjusting nuts to advance or retract the blade, then turn the adjuster to take up the thread backlash and seat the adjuster against the blade to prevent slipping under shaving load. Veritas also includes two shims to reduce gap between blade and the throat.
I was satisfied with my tuned Record 151. There’s a limited expectation about quality control on a tool that cost $22 about 10 years ago. The Stanley 151 is still the same price. Hmmm? Wonder what corners were cut? If you’re handy, you can make it work. If not, did you throw away $22 or save $120. I think I just talked myself into a new bed partner. I do love my other Veritas tools.