American Levels and Their Makers
The early inclinometers manufactured by Leonard Davis were in what is termed the "tall form." The frame of this style or form of inclinometer is 3¼" tall and contains a brass inclinometer fitting that is 213/16" in diameter. The subsequent or normal inclinometers stand 213/16" tall with an inclinometer fitting that is 2 7/16" in diameter. This inclinometer carries two patent dates, September 17, 1867 and March 17, 1868. The normal inclinometer carries only the 1867 patent date.
The black japanning is extensively decorated with gold trim. The normal sized inclinometer was also decorated with gold trim until about 1874 or 1875. All of the normal sized inclinometers signed L. L. Davis, and a few of the early Davis Level & Tool inclinometers, are decorated with gold trim. These tall form inclinometers are quite rare, especially in fine condition. The actual production period is unknown but judging by the rarity, was probably quite short. This level is both fragile (because of the brittleness of cast iron) and heavy which are two possible reasons for its rarity, i.e., perhaps few were sold because of the weight and most probably few of those that were sold survived because of the fragility.
Many later manufacturers produced cast iron levels, but none achieved the popularity of the Davis tools and certainly few could rival their eye appeal.