THE STORY ABOUT MORSØ
THE STORY ABOUT MORSØ
Anders Nielsen Christensen born on 27 June 1882 made the first mitring machine in the world in 1911 on the island of Mors – and the Morsø was born. The Danish letter ‘Ø’ means “island” therefore the name of MORSØ.
His friend, the town barber, also ran a small bookstore and picture framing business next to his barbershop. One day – that was already in 1909 - the barber said to Anders, "It's terribly difficult to get the corners of a frame to fit properly. Since you're so good at making things, do you think you can come up with something that will make it easier to put frames together?"...
That simple question was the birth of the business we know today as Dan-list A/S in Randers, Denmark. Its product is so unique that the product name Morsø has become part of the English language. Today the English word for mitring machine is Morso.
Anders gave the problem some thought and proceeded to construct a small, strange looking piece of machinery from angle irons and flat bars that was attached to a workbench. A rod connected the foot pedal to the machine, and when the pedal was pushed, the knives were pulled through the moulding. It was a very primitive machine, and can only be regarded as a crude prototype, but it proved one thing: it was possible to cut through mouldings instead of sawing. The idea was definitely worth exploring. Next step was that the machine was constructed in such a way that the knife block was attached to the workbench, and in order to cut the moulding you had to move the fences bit by bit towards the knives.
You may say that the invention of the Morsø mitring machine was in fact a revolution for the picture framing industry. You could now make frames where the corners fitted, and you could join the cut mouldings without any further finishing. It is hard to imagine what the picture framing industry would have done without the mitring machines to-day.
The first proper Morsø Mitring Machine
Was built in 1911. It had two legs and a rocking foot pedal. However, it was far from fully developed, as there were no rebate supports or extension table with measuring scale, as well as other features that were added later. As everything was done in Anders’ spare time, the development did not happen overnight, but it was not long before a picture framer ordered a mitring machine. He had seen it at the barber’s shop. It took Anders a while longer to come up with the final design, and he worked constantly on improving the machine. As time went on, word of mouth made Anders’ mitring machine quite well known, and he received several inquiries.
In the early 1920s
Production of the mitring machine became organized, and Anders made 12 machines annually until 1929. During this time he developed a new rebate support that was height-adjustable with screws. He also developed an engraving tool for a measurement scale on the fences, making it possible to measure the mouldings right on the machine. The final design and development of the Morsø Mitring Machine was basically completed by the middle of the 1920s; only a few modifications have taken place since then. Among other things, the foot pedal was adjusted so that it went all the way to the floor, instead of stopping 6-7 cm above the ground. This change does not sound too drastic, but it was a great advantage for any picture framer who worked on the machine all day long.
The outer design was also changed: to begin with the machine was red with two open legs. In the late fifties this was changed: the machine became green with a frame instead of the legs.
During the 1930s Anders developed contacts in Sweden, Norway, Holland and Iceland, and he sold the first machine to England in 1933.
In 1945 Anders’ son Alfred came home to help his father with the production, as Anders had fallen ill.
At that time, neither Anders nor Alfred could imagine that the production time for each machine would decrease from 45 to 17 hours, or that annual production would increase from 60 to 1,500 machines before Alfred retired in 1976.
In 1953 Alfred and his wife Christine took over the business, and they built a new 135 m2 factory on Mors. The business continued to grow slowly but steadily. They also continued to export the machines and acquired good contacts in England and the US.
Towards the end of 1959
Alfred and Christine built another new factory of 250 sqm on Mors. Alfred began experimenting with finding the ideal operating method for the mitring machine. Both compressed air and hydraulics worked, but it turned out that hydraulics was the most effective. For various reasons, however, Alfred decided to continue improving the compressed air model. It was not until the third generation took over the business in 1976 that the hydraulic mitring machine was further developed. Due to various reasons Alfred moved the factory to Randers in 1964, where it is still situated.
Alfred retired in 1976, and this daughter Tove and son in law Agner Pedersen took over the factory. At that time the production area had increased to 1,000 sqm and the production had increased from 60 to 1,500 machines annually. In total, 17,000 mitring machines had been produced. Up till 1976 there had been no advertising and trade shows for the Morsø, but Tove and Agner realized that exhibiting at trade shows was very important to sales, and to this day they attend approximately one trade show a month. New markets were explored and the sales kept increasing.
The Morsø mitring machine is sold all over the world because it can be adapted to any local conditions. Operated by compressed air, hydraulics, or foot, the most important element is the same in every case: the sharp knives that make a precise cut.
Today more than 80,000 Morsø mitring machines have been produced. The business was started in the spare time of one single man on the island of Mors a little less than 100 years ago: today 98% of the production is exported to all over the world.
On 1 March 2003 Tove and Agner handed over leadership of dan-list A/S to their son Claus Pedersen who attended dan-list in 1997.The circle seems completed with Claus taking over dan-list. Not only did he take over his great grandfather’s invention, but he will also embark on a brand new journey. dan-list has developed a new mitring machine for cutting window bars and French doors. Thus the continued success of the business is tied together by the past and the future.
1911: The first Morsø foot operated mitring machine was made.
1965: The first Morsø pneumatic, semi-automatic machine was made.
1981: The first Morsø electric/hydraulic, fully automatic machine was made.
2005: Morsø wins the ABT Honours Award, given in this centenary year of Art Business Today, to the company who made the biggest impact in the last one hundred years on the Art & Framing industry.
You may say that the invention of the Morsø mitring machine was in fact a revolution for the picture framing industry.
You could now make frames where the corners fitted, and you could join the cut mouldings without any further finishing.
It is hard to imagine what the picture framing industry would have done without the mitring machines to-day.