I bought this boat in 2000, from a friend who had purchased a collection of small wooden boats from the Chesapeake Bay area. After purchasing the boat, I was determined to learn more of its history.
The bronze plate on its transom is inscribed:
NORSK SPRAENGSTOFINDUSTRI A/S OSLO 1530
I researched “norsk spraengstofindustri” and learned that it was the company founded by Alfred Nobel (1833-1896) – inventor of dynamite and creator of the Nobel Prize. (His father Immanuel Nobel invented plywood!) A search in the Vanderbilt University library yielded a small book about the company – in Norwegian. Still, it was something.
But what did that company have to do with the manufacture of this small boat?
I wondered if there might be a museum of wooden boats in Norway. There is – the Norsk Sjofartsmuseum, located in Oslo. I emailed them a description of the boat and asked if they had any information. Since I do not know Norwegian, I sent it in English, trusting that someone there might speak English.
Several weeks later, I received a reply. It turned out to be the link I was searching for! It read:
CONCERNING BOAT IDENTIFICATION QUESTION
We refer to your email of September 6th. Twenty years ago, it was not unusual to see the “Peanut-boats” on Norwegian fjords during summer. Today they are quite rare.
Alas, we have no information about the boat in our archives. However, we have learnt that Mr. Per O. Grimstad (c/o Royal Norwegian Embassy, Pretoria, SOUTH AFRICA) was involved in the production of the “Peanut-boats”.
Thus, we recommend you to write to Mr. Grimstad and request further information. Please refer to the Norwegian Maritime Museum.
I wrote to Mr. Grimstad, not knowing if the Royal Norwegian Ambassador to South Africa would have the time or inclination to respond to my request for information.
Six weeks later, I received his thoughtful reply – two long typewritten pages (reproduced below).