The Superior Works: Inner Sanctum

Ah, Victorian design. Nothing has ever been so pervasive in the day-to-day life of John Q. Public as Victorian design was. Nothing, from the mundane to the extraordinary, escaped the far-reaching hand of the Victorian artist's excess, tools included. And there is perhaps no better example of that design on tools than the Melick Clinometer, pictured here. Sure, the Davis Levels exhibit the same flair for elegance, but this tool has a form that sets it apart from all other levels of the era. One cannot help but to see the common mantle clock design incorporated in this tool, which could have accomplished the very same thing in a much simpler form.

The Melick Clinometer was patented by W.B.Melick on December 3rd, 1889 and was manufactured in St. Louis, Missouri - certainly not a hotbed for toolmaking when compared to the contemporary tool juggernauts operating successfully in New England. The level was used by machinists for striking angles.

The level measures a hair over twelve inches long. The casting is japanned and has gold pinstriping highlights along it's top edge. The level itself is nothing but a counterweighted disk that's graduated to indicate the number of degrees off of level the referenced surface is. There are two thumb tabs, one at the top of the tool and one at ther back, that lock the disk in position so that the level can be read accurately. Melick also offered the same function in a wooden model where the body is comprised of laminated strips.

The remarkable thing about this particular example is that it's in its original green box and the tool appears never to have been used. Both of these factors make hardcore tool lovers foam at the mouth

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pal, February 15, 1998