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senest opdateret 01.12.16


”There is probably no history,only biography”
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–82)


Jørgen Balthasar Dalhoff (JBD) lived from 11. november 1800 to 2. march 1890; and was my great-grandfather.
At a celebration in 1900 of JBD’s centenary by the Industrial Association, his son Nicolai Christian Dalhoff (1843-1927) consented to write a book about his father. This promise was fulfilled 15 years later, as shown on the opposite page.
From early childhood my father, Ludvig Georg Dalhoff (1882-1942), always kept close to his beloved grandfather in the workshop, and JBD influenced him greatly. The JBD-book was a must for his children; with it’s greatest inspiration in the life of my eldest brother, Jørgen Nicolai Dalhoff (1911-95); the book was still at his bedside table when he died in New Zealand.
We are a close family; but spread on four continents.
Thus, while enjoying their sun and sea in Australia, my relatives there convinced me that I should make some extracts in English, ”for the younger generations”.
However, getting into the depth of the book, with it’s intimacy of daily life and hardships, joys and sorrows, made me change my outline. I wanted to make a proper book. This meant much more work, - but very fortunately my second niece Tove Skaarup (neé Dalhoff) readily agreed to assist with translations.
The present book is thus the result of a happy teamwork between a great-grandson and a great-great-granddaughter of JBD !
The book follows the outline of the original, but the many comments and anecdotes about other issues and personalities of the time have been left out. Apart from the initial introduction of the family background, the book is now almost entirely based on JBD’s own letters and notes. This strict adherence to the sources – his son, NCD, complained about his father’s lack of style – may at some places hamper the book’s easy read a bit; but what is lost here, is gained in authenticity.
With a few additions, the illustrations in the text are those of the original. The basis for these, as well as many other JBD scetches and designs, were donated to Kunstindustrimuseet (The Museum of Applied Art) in Copenhagen some fifty years ago.
The Supplementary Notes to this book are short; just enough for a reader unfamiliar with it’s key persons. The Notes end with a ”Historic Background” that might in fact be quite useful before starting to read the book.
Much effort has been put into finding and preparing the Supplementary Illustrations that complete this book. They are not in chronological or any other order; but a valued addition. For three of them, thank you to Marianne in Melbourne, Bo in Paris, and Mette in Copenhagen!
And last, certainly not least, many thanks to Tove and to Jorge. Without you two, this book couldn’t have come out now.

November 2009
Emil Dalhoff



The life of Jørgen Balthasar Dalhoff (1800-1890) As told and shown by his own letters and designs

An Artist Artisan – Goldsmith – Wandering Journeyman – Designer – Lecturer at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts – Collaborator and Confidant of Thorvaldsen – The King’s Jeweller – Founder of the Industrial Association – Manufacturer, from fine Objects of Art to cheap Kitchen Utensils – Industrial ”Spy” on constant Travels – Instigator of Trade Schools – Contractor, Introducer of Central Heating – Displayer at World Exhibitions – Deviser of a Life Saving Vessel – Inventor, 13 Patents for Processes and Machinery, plus a Rifle Sight – Amateur Horticulturist

”Such diversity can be dangerous, and to a certain extent, it was for him”