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Object of the month

Prepay electricity meter

May 2018

This mechanical single-phase electricity kilowatt-hour meter (220 V, 5 A. Type: CO – 2) was made in Mytishchi, Moscow Region, the Soviet Union (the USSR) in 1957.

This meter is interesting because the aperture built in its case provides for inserting a 20-kopek coin, which ends up in the “savings box” (the currency of the Soviet Union was the ruble, which was subdivided into kopeks; 1 ruble = 100 kopeks).

The operation principle of the meter is based on prepayment: first, one must pay for electricity, and only then it can be used. When the electricity equal to the value of the amount paid was used up, its supply stopped.

There are two other electricity meters manufactured by AEG in the collection of the Museum of Energy of Latvenergo Group. They were used in Riga in the 1920s and 1930s, and prepayment in them was made in Latvian lats.

Prepay electricity meters were used in Latvia and other European countries already at the beginning of the 20th century. They were popular in hotels. Initially, they accepted cash payments – with coins, but in the recent past – electronic prepaid cards.

Everyone interested has an opportunity to view this unique prepay electricity meter, visiting the exhibition “Electricity Does Everything” at the Museum of Energy at Keguma prospekts 7/9, Kegums, Kegums Municipality.

Addressing device

April 2018

In the depositories of the Museum of Energy there is a unique addressing device operated by electricity. It has been manufactured in the first half of the 20th century at the factory Adrema Maschinenbau GmbH, Berlin (Germany). The addressing device was used for production of matrixes on metal plates by applying the printing technique, embossing the details of customers of Rīgas elektrotīkls [Riga Power Network utility], such as the customer’s number, name, surname, address and other details.The matrixes were later used for printing the customers’ details in electricity billing booklets produced by a printing house. Such an addressing device and matrixes were used for preparing electricity billing booklets for the customers of Rīgas elektrotīkls until the 1970-ies.

Older addressing devices have been manufactured as early as at the end of the 19th century in the USA for production of name badges. Since 1914 addressing devices were widely used at post and newspaper subscription offices and post offices for production of matrixes for reproduction of addresses and labelling envelopes for post deliveries. At that time this was modern technology relieving the manual writing of addresses on large volume post deliveries.

Now such devices have become evidence of the history of technology and can only be seen at museums. Also the Museum of Communications in Berlin and the Museum of Telecommunications in Luxemburg have such devices.

The addressing device and the matrixes of customer details describe the rich history of Sadales tīkls AS and can be seen at the museum depository in Riga, at Andrejostas iela 19.

Mikhail Dolivo-Dobrovolsky’s (1862–1919) commemorative plaque relief model

March 2018

The Museum of Energy has received a valuable item: a plaster model of the commemorative plaque relief dedicated to Mikhail Dolivo-Dobrovolsky, an outstanding scientist and engineer and a former student of Riga Polytechnicum.

The name of M. Dolivo-Dobrovolsky is well known in the history of engineering for the remarkable inventions and discoveries that radically transformed electrical engineeringaround the world. He invented asynchronous motors, three-phase generators, electric motors and transformers, andintroduced the practice of using three-phase alternating current. M. Dolivo-Dobrovolsky studied chemical engineering at Riga Polytechnicum (1878–1881), but was excluded from the university, supposedly for political reasons. From 1883 to 1885, he continued his studies at the Technical University of Darmstadt in Germany and later worked at the largest electrical engineering company AEG, continuing to pursue his interest in the world’s latest advances in electrical engineering. In 1891, M. Dolivo-Dobrovolsky put an end to the debates among engineering intellectuals and showed the most suitable electricity transmission system for the future by demonstrating, for the first time in history, high-voltage alternating current transmission at a distance of 170 km from Laufen HPP to the electrical engineering exhibition in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

The plaster model of M. Dolivo-Dobrovolsky’s commemorative plaque relief was created by the sculptor Viktors Suškēvičs. A commemorative plaque based on the plaster model of M. Dolivo-Dobrovolsky’s portrait was made and installed in the main building of Riga Technical University (RTU), marking the 150th anniversary of M. Dolivo-Dobrovolsky and the title of the Honorary Member of RTU awarded to him in 2012 (post mortem – after death).

Viktors Suškēvičs is distinguished in Latvian sculpture with a wide range of professional activities: from the medal genre and small-scale sculptures to portraits and monumental works of sculpture. His creative activity also reflects an enthusiastic interest in the history of Latvia. The sculptor is the author of a number of commemorative plaques. They are dedicated to outstanding musicians, cultural professionals, scientists and historic personalities. The greatest achievements of the author include the statuesque monument to Saint Meinhard in Ikšķile and the decorative turtle sculpture in Ventspils.

TV set "Šilelis 405 D-1" (Shilyelis 405 D-1)

February 2018

The production of TV sets of "Šilelis" brand commenced in 1972 in Kaunas Radio Factory, Lithuania. Several TV models have been manufactured by the end of the 80s of the 20th century that differed from each other in minor technical nuances and in visual appearance.

These small portable TVs became very popular during the 70s and the 80s of the 20th century in the entire Soviet Union including families in Latvia, reason being that they could be taken along on touring trips, hiking in the wilderness or on holidays to summer cottages (TV dimensions: 25 x 25 x 16 cm, weight 3.8 – 4.8 kg). In the time when the average worker's wage barely reached 120–150 rubles per month, "Šilelis" cost 185 rubles. The price was another attractive feature of this TV set, being more family budget-friendly than the large format TVs (priced around 300 rubles and up).

To receive TV broadcasts there is a built-in telescopic antenna that was capable of receiving broadcasts 70-80 km from a transmitter or a television station. The TV could be connected to both 220V AC grid and any 12V constant current source – an accumulator battery or a car battery.

It is known that the TVs "Šilelis" manufactured in Kaunas Radio Factory also gained notice outside the borders of the Soviet Union. Gold medal was received in the exhibition of the economic achievements in 1972, in Leipzig, Germany (the German Democratic Republic at that time).

Until February 4, 2018 the "Šilelis 405 D-1" from the Museum collection was exhibited in the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art in the exhibition "YOU’VE GOT 1243 NEW MESSAGES. Last Generation Before the Internet", becoming a "living" historic evidence - the experts form Riga Technical University switched it on once again.

Currently everyone can view this kind of TVs in both the depositories of the Museum of Energy in Riga, Andrejostas iela 19, and in the exhibition "Electricity does everything" in Kegums (Ķegums).

Ultraviolet ray lamp "Mountain Sun"

January 2018

This ultraviolet ray lamp was made in Hanau, Germany in the 1920–1930s. This is a rare model designed in the form of a sphere. The inventor of the artificial ultraviolet ray lamp is the Danish medical student Niels Finsen (1860–1904). Research into solar light effects showed the ability of ultraviolet radiation to irritate biological tissues and kill harmful bacteria. In 1895, N. Finsen constructed a powerful artificial ultraviolet ray lamp which was used to treat patients with cutaneous tuberculosis and promoted the idea that sunbathing could benefit not only the health of tuberculosis patients, but also contribute to the treatment of anemia, rickets and other diseases, as well as be used as a preventive remedy to reduce nervousness and improve appetite.

In 1903, the Danish physician N. Finsen was awarded the Nobel Prize for his contribution to the field of light therapy.

The ultraviolet ray lamp is also known as the Mountain Sun, and this figurative name was given to this device due to the radiation emitted by it. The light bulb in the middle of the device produces ultraviolet rays, which occur naturally at a considerably higher level of intensity in mountains, where the atmosphere absorbs biologically important radiation to a much lesser degree than on plains. The Museum of Energy has received the ultraviolet ray lamp as a gift. It is known that such lamps are widely used not only in medicine, but also privately, as confirmed by the giver. The lamp was purchased around 1938 and was used in the family also during the Soviet times to receive healthy sunlight throughout the year.

The ultraviolet ray lamp can be seen in the Depositories of the Museum of Energy at 19 Andrejostas Street, Riga.

Glass photographic plate camera

December 2017

The Ica Ideal 325 camera was made in Dresden, Germany in the 1930s and was used for taking glass plate photographic negatives. This type of photographic equipment was used by the photographer, photojournalist, film operator and pioneer of the Latvian sound film Eduards Rihards Kraucs (1898–1977) in the 1930s, who also carried out the photographic documentation of the construction of the Ķegums Hydropower Plant from 1936 to 1940. Unfortunately, the original camera used by E. R. Kraucs has not been preserved in Latvia, because he fled the country in 1944 and emigrated to the United States. The Ica Ideal camera is similar to the one operated by E. R. Kraucs.

The use of the photography technique, where a photographic negative is obtained on a glass plate coated with a light-sensitive layer of emulsion, started in Latvia already in the second half of the 19th century. It gradually replaced the old photography techniques. The photographic negatives were made on a glass photo plate, later making a positive image or a photograph on the photo paper in an unlimited quantity. The photographic film was invented in the 1920s, but digital photography began in the 1970s, with the rapid changes in camera designs and sizes.

The camera can be seen at the Museum of Energy in Ķegums as part of the exhibition “Construction of the Ķegums Hydropower Plant Through the Lens of Eduards Kraucs”.

Kuznetsov’s insulator

November 2017

In May 1940, Kuznetsov’s factory in Riga produced a high-voltage insulator. It was intended for a voltage of 20 kV and was used in a power line near Valmiera in Vidzeme. Porcelain insulators manufactured at Kuznetsov’s factory in Riga were used widely in high-voltage and low-voltage power lines in the 1930s and 1940s. They were particularly in demand due to their high quality, which is also recognised by specialists today.

The Kuznetsovs established their first enterprise in Russia in 1812, and in 1841 they founded a manufactory at the outskirts of Riga in Ķengarags, in the former neighbourhood of Dreilingsbusch (now Dreiliņi). There they produced earthenware and porcelain dishes, vases and decorative figurines. In the first half of the 20th century, the name of Kuznetsov spoke for itself in society.

The range of goods produced by the factory included porcelain insulators for telephone and telegraph exchanges and high-voltage and low-voltage power lines. In 1887, the Kuznetsovs acquired a special right to use the symbol of the Russian Empire in their embossed emblem (logo) – the double-headed eagle as seen on the insulators manufactured at the beginning of the 20th century that are stored in the museum’s collection, but from 1937 the insulators produced in Riga were marked with the stamp dedicated to the 125th anniversary of the factory that featured a drawing of the lightning (electricity). Such insulators were manufactured until 1941, when the Soviet power nationalised the factory and renamed it into the Riga Ceramics Factory. The high-voltage insulator can be viewed as part of the exhibition of the Museum of Energy at Ķeguma prospekts 7/9, Ķegums. 

Stereo radiogram Simfonija-2

October 2017

The collection of the Museum of Energy features one of the most interesting radio setsproducedin the A.Popov’s Riga Radio Factory in the 1970s – the stereo radiogram Simfonija-2 with a record player and two separate acoustic systems.

The production of the stereo radiogram series Simfonija was launched in 1964, but the upgraded model Simfonija-2 with a more modern receiver, a rotating magnetic antenna for receiving long and medium waves, an improved record player for both regular and stereo records and a smaller size came out in 1967. The stereo radiogram was the only one to ensure the reception and transmission of ultrahigh frequency (UHF) systems accepted in the USSR using a special stereo decoder. At that time, it was considered a high-end stereo radiogram. Its weight is 25 kg, while the acoustic systems weigh 16 kg. The stereo radiogram was expensive at that time – its price was 373 roubles and 75 kopecks.

In 1969, the radiogram was awarded the Quality Mark of the USSR. The export version was given the name Rigonda-Symphony and it featured a built-in FM wave band used in Europe as well as inscriptions of the band range in English. The radiogram series Simfonija was designed by the outstanding Latvian designer, artist Ādolfs Irbītis (1910 – 1983), who is also known as the king of radio design. His career as a radio designer started from sketches for the radio receiver VEF AR MD/35. Later, he created the exterior for almost all of the radio products made by VEF in the 1930s, as well as the design for almost the entire range of the radio products manufactured by the production association Radiotehnika in the 1960s and the 1970s.

This interesting and also visually attractive stereo radiogram Simfonija – 2 was donated to the Museum by Vizulis Liberts from Valmiera, and it is displayed as part of the exhibition “Electricity Does Everything”at the Museum of Energy in Ķegums.

Mechanical one-phase electricity kilowatt-hour meter

September 2017

Mechanical one-phase electricity kilowatt-hour meter. 220 V, 10(20) A. Type: Wz2. Meter’s serial number: 432590. The meter was made by the state production association IKA (Installationen, Kabel und Apparate) in the German Democratic Republic in the 1950s. The seals have been preserved on both sides of the meter, which confirms the fact that it was verified in Germany.

There is a stamp with an awe-inspiring text in German on the base of the meter: “Wer vorsätzlich und rechtswidrig Zähler öffnet oder Plomben entfernt oder beschädigt macht sich nach §303 R.St. G.B.-der Sachbeschädigung schuldig. Auch der Versuch ist strafbar” (which translates as: “Any person who deliberately and illegally opens the meter or removes or damages the seal is guilty of vandalism under Section 303 of the Penal Code. The attempt is also punishable.”).

The meter ended up in Latvia as part of friendly support from the Energy Supply Joint Stock Company HEVAG of Northern Germany in June 1992 after the employees of Latvenergo Group visited theadministration office of HEVAG in Rostock. At the time when there was a lack of electricity meters in Latvia and their theft was widespread, German partners sent three trucks filled with the necessary meters to Latvia.

This meter is special because it represents the Museum of Energy at the exhibition of the House of European History, which was opened on 6 May 2017. The exhibition of the House of European History is complemented by artefacts from all 28 Member States of the European Union, and it will tell a story of the complicated European history – from myths and discoveries to the chaos and unity of the 20th century, as evidenced by the help provided to the Latvian national economy at the difficult time. 

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