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Tools Then and Now: Level0

Know what this is?


I guessed that it was some sort of ancient ocean navigational tool.

And as with many things in life, I was wrong.

If you guessed that it is a level, you’re correct.  In this case, it is an Artificers level with a patent date of November 23, 1880.

For those of you who don’t know what an Artificer is (I didn’t), here’s a quick definition thanks to

1. A person who is skillful or clever in devising ways of making things; inventor.

2. A skillful or artistic worker; craftsperson.

This particular level is something of a celebrity because it appeared on the cover of a book entitled American Levelsby Don Rosebrook.  Why anyone would buy such a book is somewhat beyond me, but there ya go.  We all have our hobbies.  Mine is comics and movies.

Perhaps because it was the fame of being a covergirl (but more likely due to the patent date), this particular level is valued at $3500 on Tool Timer.

Of course, levels are quite different now.  Take the CST/berger XP5S , for example:

This sucker is straight out of a Science Fiction flick.  It uses lasers and a magnetically dampened ball bearing hung gimbal to determine degrees of level.  It is accurate to 3/16 of an inch at 100 feet.  That’s pretty damned accurate in my book.  And if it’s out of level, it lets you know via a handy little indicator.

I doubt anyone will mistake the CST/berger XP5S as something used by ancient mariners to avoid sea monster nests or giant whirlpools.  And though it lacks the unique style of the Artificer, it also lacks the unique price.  $200 at your local Home Depot.

by John Barker

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