General Assembly, 2010.

Poster made in memory of the meeting, by Sverre Avnskog

Copenhagen, Denmark                                                                         May 27th 2010


Dear members and friends of


The International Rasmus Malling-Hansen Society


It is with great pleasure that I send you this resumé of the third General Assembly of the Society on May 8th and 9th 2010.


A more detailed resumé, with many more photos, will appear on our web-site –shortly.




Christian Barnholdt

President of the Society


May 8th:




Our week-end meeting started splendidly – though in cold weather – with the fantastic unveiling of the beautiful memorial plaquette, that we have produced. The plaquette had been fixed to the wall of the School of the Deaf in Kastelsvej, Copenhagen, right behind the beautiful tombstone of Rasmus Malling-Hansen, and on the wall of the very same school building where Malling-Hansen lived and worked from 1865 to 1890.


The memory plaquette – see photo 1  - explains that here lived Rasmus Malling-Hansen, farsighted reformer of the teaching of the deaf, and world famous inventor of the writing ball – and that it has been placed here by our society.


The memory plaquette was unveiled by the present director of the school, Janus Olsen – see photo 2.


14 members of our society – from Denmark, Norway, Germany, Switzerland and the USA - attended this wonderful event, where Malling-Hansens name was finally given the visibility he deserves. Se photo 3.


After that all the participants walked out into the street outside the school, to the small square that is lying there. Until now, this square has had no name, but now it has, since we have set up – with the help of the school and on the wall of the school - a street sign: Rasmus Malling-Hansens Plads – se photo 4.


Until further, this new street name is unofficial, but it is our hope, that it will one day become the official name of this small square.


Photo 1, 2 and 4 were taken by vice-president Sverre Avnskog, photo 3 by Janus Olsen.


After this everybody took on a guided tour of the school – in the very same rooms where Malling-Hansen lived with his wife (and second wife) and seven daugthers, and we walked into the large garden with the fantastic tree in the middle – planted in 1839 – which Malling-Hansen used to measure the growth rhytm of trees during the 1880’ies!


General Assembly


After this wonderful double-inauguration, we proceeded with the General Assembly inside the school of the deaf. Here the number of participants increased to 20.


First with two Powerpoint presentations:


First vice-president Dieter Eberwein gave a detailed presentation of the many different keyboard designs, including national differences, that Malling-Hansen designed for the many different models of the writing ball that he constructed during the 20  years, that he worked with them.


Secondly president Christian Barnholdt gave a presentation about Malling-Hansens fantastic investigations into ’Periods in the Growth of Children and in the Heat of the Sun.’ And showed the fantastic book and statistical tables that he presented in 1884 and 1886, and which created world-wide interest in medical and astronomical circles. But which have never been investigated further.


At 3 pm we started the official General Assembly of the International Rasmus Malling-Hansen Society, with a report about the activities of the Society by president Christian Barnholdt and by the finances of the Society by cashier Lars Mathiesen.


Both the Society and its finances are in good shape, with appr. 25 paying members and about 6000 in capital.


It was decided to update the formal rules of the Society – a job to be done by Christian Barnholdt, Lars Mathiesen and Jřrgen Malling-Christensen.


For the seven person board of the Society, the following six were reelected:


Christian Barnholdt  (president)


Dieter Eberwein (vice presicent)


Sverre Avnskog (vice president)


Lars Mathiesen (cashier)


Jřrgen Malling Christensen (archivist and research manager)


Uwe Breker.


As a new member was elected Paul Bech, USA, a descendant of Rasmus Malling-Hansen.


Our board member Carsten Noe became an ordinary member.


Concerning the next General Assembly in 2012, it was decided to make an exception from the formal rules (that require that the assembly takes place in the school in Copenhagen) and hold the General Assembly in Köln German, on the invitation of board member Uwe Breker and his world famous Auction House.


So next time we meet – it will be in Köln. The date has not been settled yet.


After the General Assembly, five of the board members were given, as thanks for their great efforts for the Society, a beautifiul, original and numbered drawing of Malling-Hansen and a writing ball, produced by a German artist. The drawings were donated by the vice-president Sverre Avnskog.


Paul Beck, the new board member, handed out t-shirts to everybody present with texts about The Society on the front and about Malling-Hansens US patents on the back.


The General Assembly ended at appr. 16.30 hours.


Celebration Dinner


At 19.00 everybody met again in the Shool of the Deaf for our ’celebration dinner’ , with wonderful italian food, provided by Lars Mathiesen, and with a great atmosphere among the almost 20 present members of the Society from five countries.


The Schools director Janus Olsen gave a fascinating presentation of his school and of the trends within the educational methods of the deaf since the days of Rasmus Malling-Hansen.


A truly wonderful evening.


May 9th.


Repeating Malling-Hansens last walk


The next day, Sunday the 9th of May, the most dedicated Malling-Hansen admirers met in central Copenhagen, in front of the building where Malling-Hansen spent the last evening of his life in the free mason lodge on sept 27th 1890. The building is now part of the Universitys music faculty.


Here Jřrgen Malling-Hansen had prepared a guided tour of the approximately 1 kilometre that Malling-Hansen walked towards his home, before he fell down, hit by a severe heart attack that cost him his life. He died  just in front of one of the oldest buildings in Copenhagen, in the Nyboder  Marine District, where the personal of the Danish Navy have lived since the 16th century.


After that, the group drove to Sankt Jacobs Church, not far from the school at Kastelsvej. Here Rasmus Malling-Hansen was buried on October 3rd 1890 – in the presence of more than 3000 guests.


Our wonderful weekend ended with a cup of coffee in a small café close to the church.


Anyother great event of the International Rasmus Malling-Hansen Society had finished.



The memory plaquette. Photo: Sverre Avnskog
Janus Olsen - the present director of the School for the Deaf. Photo: Sverre Avnskog

The participants of the General Assembly 2010. Copyright: Sverre Avnskog
The street sign: Rasmus Malling-Hansens Plads. Photo: Sverre Avnskog