Saturday, May 11, 2013

On the Level: Schultes Level Incorporated, Detroit, Michigan

I really like the design of this level, because it looks like something made from the girders of an airship.

Joseph Schultes, the founder of the Schultes Level Company, was born in Lichtenfels, Germany in 1913, emigrating to the U.S. in 1935.  He was trained as an organ builder, and initially earned an income building and repairing organs in local churches.  After the Second World War, he spearheaded Detroit efforts to send relief packages to Europe.  Two relations, perhaps his sons, John and Vincent Schultes applied for a patent on a combination level/square in 1946, which was awarded in 1950.  The patent drawing shows many similarities to the level pictured above.

I found a picture on the web of one of the Master Precision Levels made for the military with an accuracy of one division equaling .0005 inches per foot, so they clearly were capable of making very sophisticated instruments.

I can't find any information on when the company was actually founded, and what happened to it.  Likely it was either swallowed up by one of the larger American tool-making firms, or went under due to foreign competition.  Joseph Schultes died in 2012, one year short of his centenary.


Unknown said...

I am so glad to have found this. John Schultes (yes, the son of Joseph) was my great grandfather. I would love to ask you a few questions because sadly, I think you might know more about my family than I do. Please Email me.

- Alexandria

Anonymous said...

Alexa Kasten is my great niece. She sent me this blog. She told me she made a mistake as to who is who. John was her great grandfather (my father) but not the son of Joseph. Joseph was John's second youngest brother. They were the children of Christof and Franziska Schultes and were born in Germany. The children were John, Vincent,Mary, Adolph,Joseph and Wendle. Uncle Joe was the last to leave us. Joseph did not start the Level company. My Dad, John, originally started the company as Schultes Motor Drive to sell the motor drive he invented and patented. He took all of his younger brothers as partners into the business (also a friend, Herman Bagus now dec'd) as each came to the US except for Wendel who came after WW2. When a man in Texas who had money saw the patent and changed enough to be able to have his company make the drives, he put daddy out of business. (I have orignal papers and also original advertising for the drives. In between he had Schultes Tool & Engineering Company - I have a photo of his truck with some of us standing by it. That was when Daddy and Vince decided to do the aluminum levels. I have a picture and maybe more of and about the shop.It was on Gable street in Det. MI. I may be able to recall the dates for the companies but I am 84 and have just moved so I don't have a lot of time and my personal papers are all in storage. My dad was the dreamer and the inventor. Uncle Vince was the business minded one. He eventually got all of his brothers and Herman out (bought them out) and his wife , Anna, handled all the bookeeping, etc. Vince's son. now dec'd, and his daughter(lives in Germany) were never interested in the business so when Vince had a stroke the shop closed. Some of my sisters may have more info and some of my cousins also may. Some of them worked at the Level shop. One of my nephews has bought up some of the levels and I have photos and some info re: them. My name is Therese Schultes, born & raised in Detroit and moved to Alabama 15 yrs. ago to be family for my only grandchild and her 3 daughters. my email address is

Therese Schultes said...

Therese Schultes here again. I wonder where you got all the info about Uncle Joe. It is accurate except for his involvement with the level design. After Uncle Vince got complete control of the company, my dad, John, and Uncle Joe were hired by close friend Irwin Sattler where Uncle Adolph was already working. Can't recall the name of the company just now. My dad and Mr. Sattler were young men starting their companies at the same time and knew each other. I last saw Mr. Sattler at Uncle Joe's 90th party. He was still in business. Uncle Joe's children are Joseph,Michael,Marilynn,David, Thomas and John - all live in the Detroit area except for Joe and Marilynn in Colorado. This is my first time using a blog and like most old people I do go on.

Anonymous said...

I am looking for parts for a .0005 level. Looking for the plates on the top. Do you know where I could purchase these? I do appreciate your help, have not able to find anything. My email is: or you may call me at my shop (we do precision leveling and squaring of machine tools) 313-537-4777. Thank you, any info would be helpful! Harold

The Duke said...

Sorry, all I have is the level in the picture. Nothing else remotely similar to what you are searching for.

Unknown said...

Mr Sattler unfortunately passed this past winter. He did make it to my granfather's funeral to pay his respects. They would catch up when they saw each other in church. It was always interesting to hear their stories

Turi said...

Anonymous said...

Wonderful to see family members discuss such matters! I too had family come to the Detroit area from Germany.

My recently deceased grandfather Adolph Foerg (Forg) Came to America in the 60's with his Wife and Son. Adolph worked as an instrument maker second class at the University of Michigan for many years making astronomy instruments.

I found this blog because I collect "master precision levels" like the Starrett 199, the Pratt and Whitney .0005"/ft level and the Universal Boring Machine Level.

I just added a Schultes Precision level to my collection. Actually the one pictured above me on Ebay. Somehow that one made it to Italy, but I am repatriating it to the Detroit area.

Interestingly, I have met Harold of Borel and Co. who posted above. I have been to his shop in Livonia.

Hope to have my level soon, nice to see people discussing the Family/history of the company.

Nate Foerg.

Anonymous said...

I have a 78" aluminum level made by Schultes, anyone have any interest email me @