For builders and bricklayers, all is for naught if one’s work is not level. After all, who wants to sleep in a bed that been placed on a sloping floor, and if your brick patio is laid at the wrong angle, the winter rains will saturate your home’s foundations rather than running off harmlessly into your flower beds or lawn.

There are two types of antique levels of interest to collectors of antique tools. The first is an inclinometer, which, as its name implies, measures a slope’s degree of incline, which is read via the tool’s circular protractor. Some 19th-century American inclinometer manufacturers only made the device, which customers would mount in rosewood, cherry, and other woods of varying lengths as they saw fit. Most, though, sold their inclinometers in cast-iron or wooden frames—hard woods with brass accents were the rule.

One of the companies most highly regarded for its inclinometers was Davis Level & Tool Co., whose pierced-and-japanned cast-iron housings resembled the trimwork on the Victorian Era homes they helped build. Inclinometers labeled Davis and Cook were often shaped like mantel clocks, although many manufacturers made inclinometers in this classic style.

The second type of collectible level is the spirit level, which most of us know today as the bubble level. Originally, the liquid in the level’s vial was filled with spirits, which is how the device got its name. Interestingly, the vials curved slightly so the bubble would naturally rise to the top of the horizontally positioned cylinder when the tool was perfectly level. The straighter the vial, the more sensitive, and accurate, the level.

Spirit levels came in all sizes, from pocket levels that were just two inches long to carpenter’s levels that were almost three feet across. The name Davis is associated with any number of these levels, as are brands such as Stanley, Millers Falls, and Stratton Brothers.

Of particular interest to collectors of railroadiana are railroad levels, which were often five feet in length. Though called levels, these devices were really inclinometers since they allowed railroad workers to measure a track’s grade.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Alloy Artifacts

Alloy Artifacts

A tool collectors’ dream, this site is a deep repository of photos and info on 20th century hand tools and the co… [read review or visit site]

Vintage Machinery

Vintage Machinery

This collective website, which started as an online discussion forum, also includes a large database of manufacture… [read review or visit site]

Drainspotting

Drainspotting

Josh and Cam Larios have created this site enabling people to upload and 'tag' photos of historic or artistic manho… [read review or visit site]

A Millers Falls Home Page

A Millers Falls Home Page

Randy Roeder has carved out a niche for himself with his fine website devoted to the history of the Millers Falls C… [read review or visit site]



Most watched eBay auctions    

"estate" Antique & Razor Sharp Stanley Rule & Level Miller's Patent Plow Plane Antique Stanley Rule & Level Co No 38 Folding Bone Caliper Rule Excellent CondAntique 6" L.l. Davis Mantel Clock Adjustable Inclinometer Spirit LevelEbony & Brass Spirit Level 8 Inch Decorative Inlaid Small Vintage Antique ToolAntique Tiny Wood & Brass Thickness Gauge/rule Rabone No 1465, Lovely ConditionVintage, The Ls Starrett Co. Athol,mass. Usa, 8" Machinist Level, Old Usa ToolVintage Rabone 6 Inch Cast Metal Engineers Spirit Level - Original CaseThe L.s. Starrett Co. 8" Machinists Level Old Vintage Carpenters Hand ToolsVintage Brass Plumb Bob Plumbbob Rare Pattern 338 Grams Nice Antique Brass Plumb Bob With Wooden Reel '5' 's' Old Tool Vintage 8" Stanley No. 34v Machinist Level Excellent Condition!!Small Brass Looking Plane,marked Only On Cutter,stanley Rule & Level Co.posoble Vintage Stanley No.96 Brass Bound Rosewood Adjustable Level 28" Pat 5-8-068 1/2" Brass Plumb Bob. Unique Feature.Old, Used Machinist's Tools: L.s. Starrett No. 134 Cross Test Level,l.s StarrettVintage L. S. Starrett No 134 Cross Test LevelVintage Stanley 6" No. 34 Machinists Eclipse Level - Antique Early Type12 Oz Plumb Brandi Barbara Brand New In Packaging Bob Nude Naked Bikini Bra 12ozHockley Abbey - Brass & Boxwood Vintage Dual 12 Inch Ruler & Spirit LevelVintage Rare Stanley No.57 6” Wing Divider Nib Nos Machinist Cabinet Maker ..7Rabone No 1167 Extending 24 Inch Long Boxwood & Brass RulerOld Tool Very Rare J. Rabone & Sons Boxwood Folding Rule. Brass Dial & LevelVintage Stanley No. 1 Brass Plumb BobPlumb BobCrick 4-foot (48") Wooden Mason's Level :]Vintage Brass Plumb Bob With Steel TipPlumb BobVintage Lufkin 2062 3 Fold 24" Folding Rule With LevelDisston Usa Adjustable Sliding Bevel Carpenters Tool CollectableVintage 1870 Stratton Brothers Greenfield Mass 8 " Level Unsure If Works ?Atq L.s.s. Co Starrett 15" Machinist Precision Bench Level 1-16" Gradient Per FtAntique Rare Italian 8" Brass 3 Window Gradient Tubular Spirit Level Antique Plumb Bob Vintage Wood Metal BrassRabone Chesterman No 1162 1 Metre Long Extending Boxwood & Brass RulerVintage Machinist Pocket Levels Tool Stanley No 31 Goodell Pratt Usa Tools NrAntique Solid Stainless Steel Plumb Bob: Plumb-bob Carpentry Woodwork CarpenterLevelution The System 1ft-to-12ft Level With T SquareAntique Brass & Boxwood Folding Ruler Stanley No. 83c Stanley Rule & Level Co.Vintage Ls Starrett Machinist 6" Dual Level Made In Usa Vintage S.j.sherman Pocket Level, New York Rabone Chesterman No 1161 Extending 1000mm Boxwood & Brass RulerAntique Stanley Rule & Level Co. Pat. Mch,11,84 No. 45 Plow Plane1853 Patent S J Sherman New York Line LevelAntique Folding Foot Rule With Level And Fold-out Square Chapin StephensVintage Combination Angle/level Finder Alfred Emerson Industries, Machinist ToolAntique Brass Plumb Bob W Horizontal Ribs & Internal Line NrVintage 3 1/2" Brass Plumb Bob With Steel Tip And String Vintage Brass Plumb Bob, 10 Oz, General Hardware Mfg. Co., New York, Ny, #800Vintage Chesterman No 371d 4 Inch Toolmakers Steel RuleVintage Hockley Abbey No 1621 8 Inch LevelVintage Stanley #31 Hexagonal Brass Pocket Level 3-1/2" Free Shipping No ReserveLot Of 3 Vintage Plumb Bobs - 16 Oz Brass General Hardware /hanson 328-h/8-ounceNice Vintage Stanley No. 36 18" Cast Iron Level 3 Good Bubbles Carpenters ToolAntique Dietzgen Brass Sight Level With Leather Case - 5" LongVintage Oak Plumb Bob, 4 1/2" LongPlumb And Level, Dunlap Solid Brass 3 Way Sears Roebuck, UsaAntique Primitive 2 1/2” Long Cast Iron Plumb Bob / Vintage Carpenter's Tool OldLufkin # 863 L .combination Rule,level& Protractor. Ad-northern Ind. Vintage Level, Machinists?Vtg. L.s. Starrett Co. Athol, Ma. Usa 3 3/8" Metal Level Tool