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National Museum of Australia

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Builder's spirit level

Object information

Physical description

Improvised builder's spirit level. Made from a length of wood salvaged from a ship's deck, it has a 45mm diameter hole drilled through it near one end. A vertically aligned glass bubble [made form an Army thermometer?] is mounted inside the innermost edge. A red line is drawn around the level 245mm in from the end that has the hole in it. Part of an Australian-made Vickers machine gun sight is mounted longitudinally to one side of the level in the middle of the top edge, and it has a small liquid-filled orange glass bubble in a rectangular well on the top.

Statement of significance

The R F Alder Collection Number 2 comprises a homemade spirit level and a broadmouth shovel formerly owned by Reg Alder. The spirit level is made from a surplus army thermometer and gun sights mounted in a piece of ship deck timber. The broadmouth shovel has a handmade timber handle. The spirit level and the shovel are in good condition.

The spirit level and broadmouth shovel document significant aspects of urban Australian history in the postwar period, as experienced by R F (Reg) Alder and his wife Doris. Shortages in labour and building materials encouraged many Australians to build their own homes. The objects record the technical and creative skills of Reg Alder, attributes useful to an owner builder. With the extension of urban transport networks, some people chose to live amid the bush and commute to work. Furthermore, modern methods of transportation allowed Reg and Doris Alder to pursue bushwalking interests. The R F Alder Collection Number 2 also reflects the relationship between modern environmentalism and the bushwalking movement of the twentieth century.

Object information

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