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Image: Screw Box - Bruhn Collection
Source: Museum Victoria
Adolph Bruhn started a woodturning business at 121-123 Little Collins Street, Melbourne in or about 1897. The business would remain there until 1970, operating as Adolph Bruhn & Son, then relocated to 283 Coventry Street, South Melbourne, where it operated until 1990.
Three generations of Bruhn men operated the business: Adolph Bruhn (1855-1919), his son Sophus Christopher Bruhn (1885-1958), and in turn his son Sophus Walter Bruhn (1919-1990).
Up to the 1920s, the business specialised in ivory-turning, including making ivory billiard balls. Thereafter the business made a wide range of wooden products, including tables, architectural mouldings and posts. It undertook several specialist turning tasks, including making the bases for the Melbourne Cup and other major horse-racing events, goblets for Canterbury Cathedral, wooden containers for CSIRO, sets for TV stations in the 1950s, and electric switch handles for the State Electricity Commission.
The business remained small, with at most 6 employees during the 1940s. By 1970 the business was reducing in scale, and as city rents became prohibitive, Sophus Walter Bruhn moved the workshop to South Melbourne. Here he continued to make specialist period furniture and architectural fittings until his death in 1990.
After the business closed in 1990, Museum Victoria acquired the contents of the workshop. The collection of nearly 900 items includes a lathe, cutting tools, hand tools, products, workshop fittings, office equipment, portraits, and an accounts ledger.