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Carl Halvorsen's ruler

Date: 1950-1980
Dimensions:
Overall: 34 × 243 × 10 mm (closed)
Medium: wood and metal
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Verity Halvorsen
Classification:Tools and equipment
Object Name: Ruler
Object No: 00054663
Related Place:Bobbin Head,

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    Description
    This tradesman's wooden folding ruler unfolds to about 1.2m length, and is made up from four sections each about 300mm long. It is an imperial scale and denotes inches. It belonged to shipwright Carl Halvorsen who probably acquired it when he was an apprentice in his early teenage years. It was easy to carry and one of the fundamental tools always in use while working on boat construction.

    Carl Halvorsen later moved into a management role with the family company Lars Halvorsen Sons, but out of habit kept the ruler with him at all times, and probably used it to check details while inspecting work.
    SignificanceThe ruler was the personal ruler for shipwright Carl Halvorsen and has been in his possesion since he began as an apprentice at age 14 or thereabouts. He kept it with him even after he took on mangement roles and reflects his passion for and respect forthe work of a boat builder.
    HistoryFour generations of Halvorsens have been active in designing and building craft in Australia since the founder Lars Halvorsen arrived in Sydney in 1924. They are known nationally for their motor launches with a classic style that gradually evolved over many decades.

    Lars Halvorsen came to Sydney after a short period working in South Africa. He immediately set up a boatbuilding business, and was soon joined by his sons. Lars and his family were originally from Norway, but he also gained experience working in American yards. He had been forced to sell up and move from Norway after a failed business venture involving an uninsured vessel that was lost at sea.

    Once established in Sydney, the Lars Halvorsen's boatyard was soon known for the excellent workmanship and the fine design of their motor launches and sailing yachts. Lars was the principal designer, and his sons Harold, Carl, Bjarne, Magnus and Trygve worked in the yard as soon as they were old enough, learning the trade as they grew up.

    Lars died in 1936 and the family business continued as Lars Halvorsen Sons Pty Ltd from 1937 with eldest son Harold as principal designer and managing director and other family members as directors. The firm was originally based in Neutral Bay, and then established additional premises at Ryde, where they continued to produce launches of all sizes.

    During World War II Halvorsens were contracted to build hundreds of vessels for military purposes including Fairmile launches, crash boats and patrol boats. Their workforce rose from 24 to 350. Harold Halvorsen designed many of these vessels.

    The highlights were the luxury motor launches, some up to 27.4 m (90 ft) long. For a brief period after World War II a small number of these were exported to the USA, where the boats were lauded by the press. But despite the success of this venture it was not continued for very long and only four craft were involved.

    Whilst the firm has always been well known for its elegant launches, throughout its existence Halvorsens also built tugs, trawlers, mission boats and other commercial craft. At one point they owned a business Halvorsen Fisheries Pty Ltd, which operated between Eden and Sydney.

    The launch hire business they ran from premises at Bobbin Head near Sydney gave them access to the Hawkesbury River and Cowan Creek waterways. This gave many people the opportunity to get out on the water and enjoy recreational boating for the first time. The simple but classic boats remained in service for many years.

    Harold's son Harvey continued the tradition of excellent motor launch design, initially working in California, but returning to Sydney around 2002 and launching a new range of handsome powerboat designs into the Australian and international market. In 2006 Harvey’s son Mark is working with the business and will carry on the family tradition, established over 80 years ago.

    Halvorsen vessels are collector’s items and a strong club is active in maintaining and displaying their craft. Many have been restored around the country and are kept in superb condition.
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