Levi Tinkham

Levi Tinkham (1766 - 1857) was a planemaker living in Middleboro, Massachusetts and is among Tinkham toolmakers and tool users in the Museum collection.

The Tinkham collection is dear to the heart of The Davistown Museum because the curator is related to the Tinkhams by marriage via the second husband of his great grandmother. In the mid-1970s, while buying a tool collection on a wintery night in Weymouth, MA, the buyer for the Liberty Tool Co. was offered a collection of old deeds from the attic of an ancient house along the ocean. The collection of deeds purchased contained over two dozen Tinkham family property and ship's deeds and other documents. The earliest of these is signed by William Bradford, Jr., a governor of Plymouth Colony in the mid-17th century and is on display in the main hall of the Museum. A number of other early specimens are in the Davistown History Project Room. Ephraim Tinkham (Tincom) came to Plymouth as an indentured servant in 1629 and later became a selectman. The Tinkham family spread out in southern New England, especially near Fairhaven, Dartmouth, and other nearby communities. Additional information about the Tinkhams as well as additional specimens of their planes and tools are sought by the Museum.


Above: 33013T2, 33013T3, and 4613T1. These planes were acquired from the boat shop of Joseph Watts. Of particular significance is the panel raising plane (signature shown in closeup on left), which is marked "LT" (probably for "Levi Tinkham" and signed E * CLARK MIDDLEBORO, with a blade signed BENNET. Pollack's American Wooden Planes identifies E. Clark as Elisha Clark of Middleboro MA with a signature and style similar to that of H. Wetherel and Levi Tinkham. Both the DATM and Pollack note that Clark used Bennett blades. The DATM lists Nebediah Bennet worked circa 1775 to 1777.
Pollack lists several Tinkhams working in Middleboro, MA: Jesse Tinkham (born Nov. 13, 1785 in Middleboro, died Feb. 17, 1868 in Athol), brother of Samuel Tinkham (born Feb. 18, 1798 in Middleboro, died Dec. 5, 1880 in Enfield); Levi Tinkham (born 1766, died 1857); and L.B. Tinkham, circa 1840. Jesse was listed as a toolmaker, machinist, and joiner in various cities. Levi Tinkham was a "mechanic in wood" and a farmer. Samuel was listed as a carpenter and cabinetmaker.


W. Sullivan has kindly given us this photograph of a Tinkham plane and states, "The nose of the plane is clearly marked "L TINKHAM" (top line) and "MIDDLEBORO" (bottom line). It's 13" long and 6" from the bottom of the body to the top of the tote. The body is 2 1/8" high and 2 5/8" across the profile. It has an off-set tote and a full original cutting iron. The iron is stamped "E. BENNET" who I'm told was a local blacksmith."

Tinkham Plane

Pollak, Emil & Martyl. (2001). A Guide to the Makers of American Wooden Planes.

Nelson, Robert E., Ed. (1999). Directory of American Toolmakers: A listing of identified makers of tools who worked in Canada and the United States before 1900. Early American Industries Association.