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Object of the month

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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