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Koerstz, Christian Christiansen (1847–1930)

by G. P. Walsh

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (MUP), 1983

Christian Christiansen Koerstz (1847-1930), manufacturer and inventor, was born on 23 July 1847 at Kolding, Denmark, son of Christian Kortz, tailor, and his wife Anne Pouline Augusta Johanne, née Flerong. At 20, after being an apprentice mechanic in a Dutch firm of windmill-makers, he went to New Zealand and settled at Waverly, North Island. After twelve years spent making butter-boxes, and in building and bridge construction, he visited Denmark where at Kolding on 12 June 1887 he married Christina Petra Kors (1868-1907).

In August they reached Sydney where Koerstz met and became a business associate of Frederick Mason, grain and produce merchant of Sussex Street, who held patent rights to a woolpress and was agent for the Deering Harvester Co. Describing himself as a carpenter, Koerstz was granted provisional protection certificates by the Patents Office for an improved bundle-press in February 1890 and in 1891 for certain improvements in woolpresses, water pump and motor, and with Mason for an improved rotary pump. He thus began a long series of inventions and patents and a manufacturing firm which became well known in the pastoral industry in Australia and overseas.

Realizing the great potential market for more efficient and labour-saving woolpresses, Koerstz designed and made presses for both the large and small sheep-owner. By 1898 Mason, Koerstz's sole agent, had sold hundreds of the 'New Koerstz Selectors' and Homestead Lessees' Press', which was claimed to have 'practically annihilated all competition'. Keenly priced at £15 and originally designed for the smallholder, it weighed 12 cwt (610 kg), could be worked by one man and handle the pressing of wool from flocks of over 20,000 sheep. By 1910 Koerstz was a large and successful exhibitor at the Royal Agricultural Society's Sydney Show and his woolpresses — 'Little Wonder', 'Squatter', 'Station', 'Bosker', 'Conqueror' and 'Improved Langley' — ranging in price from £12 10s to £35, were standard equipment in a large and increasing number of shearing-sheds. His factory at Pyrmont also produced hay, skin, cotton and winepresses, quartz-crushers, pumps and a wide range of other agricultural implements. The expanded factory moved to Mentmore Avenue, Rosebery, in 1925.

Koerstz, whose inventiveness and high standard of workmanship did much for Australia's wool industry, was naturalized in 1907. At 65 he retired in favour of his children who continued the business as a partnership. He died at his residence, Kolding, Ryde, on 9 May 1930, survived by three sons and three daughters, and was buried in the Anglican section of the Field of Mars cemetery. His estate was sworn for probate at £14,167.

Select Bibliography

  • F. Wheelhouse, Digging Stick to Rotary Hoe (Melb, 1966)
  • Pastoral Review, 15 June 1898, 15 Apr 1910, 15 May 1911, 15 Apr 1912, 16 Sept 1933
  • Government Gazette (New South Wales), 5 Mar 1890, 5 Feb, 6 Apr, 4 Dec 1891
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 16 May 1930.

Citation details

G. P. Walsh, 'Koerstz, Christian Christiansen (1847–1930)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/koerstz-christian-christiansen-6996/text12161, published in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 22 October 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (MUP), 1983

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