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Hinged Wooden Box with Kamehameha ‘Ekahi Engraving

Bernice Pauahi Bishop Heritage Center, Entry Room

Hinged Wooden Box with Kamehameha ʻEkahi Engraving
made by Fritz Abplanalp, former KS Art Teacher (1942-1968) and noted woodcarver


Fritz Ablplanalp was born in Brienz, Switzerland in 1907. At 18 years of age, after completing a three-year woodcarving program, he answered an advertisement to work on the Episcopalian Convent of the Transfiguration in Glendale, Ohio, spending the next seven years carving the interior of that church.

In 1935, he was recruited by the Honolulu branch of the S & G Gump department store to come to Hawaiʻi and produce hand-carved home furnishings and decor. With his classical European training, Abplanalp artfully carved depictions of lifelike tropical leaves and flowers onto wooden surfaces. He chose to work with woods such as koa, mahogany, mango, kamani, and monkeypod to create various pieces, including sculptural wooden perfume containers, highly detailed room screens, trays and bowls, table and floor lamps, and figural art sculptures. In 1939, he won the grand prize at a Honolulu Museum of Art exhibition.

Abplanalp joined the faculty of Kamehameha Schools in 1942 to teach woodworking, art, and drafting. In 1968, he retired from Kamehameha Schools and moved to Carmel, California, eventually passing away in 1977. His art pieces and carved furniture remain highly sought after today.