THERE’S a man named Rolf who has a vintage Japanese fly catcher, a 1960s Geiger counter, a flesh cauterising machine and a device that manually measures the curvature of your eye ball.
This is a small sample of Rolf’s (who asked that his surname be withheld) collection of more than 1000 items that span the history of technology, telecommunications, medical equipment and other engineering marvels.
The Shoalhaven resident’s incredible collection started as a time capsule for his grandchildren about a decade ago.
While he had always collected bits and pieces that caught his eye, his gatherings have now developed into an anthology worthy of the finest museums.
“I tried insuring my collection and the insurance company admitted it had no idea what its value would be.
“I had all this stuff stored at home to show the grandchildren, so they could know that before smartphones we had other ways of doing things.
“A lot of those other things, which were large and heavy are now incorporated into smartphones. Things like typewriters, cameras, music players and recorders.
“My collection started with a table-top Space Invaders game and a typewriter.
“Then as I went to markets and shops, and eBay – eBay is terrible for me – I would buy things that caught my eye.
“I really appreciate the intricate engineering that went into so many of these things from years gone by.”
Rolf said as his collection grew he felt it was a shame that more people couldn’t see it and decided to offer it to the Nowra Museum, as part of an exhibition.
One of his prized possessions is a 1930 carbon arc theatre projector from the Sunbury Mental Asylum.
“It is in almost perfect condition, has a cast iron base and stands about 1.7metres tall, it is very heavy,” he said.
“I’m also very fond of my ophthalmoscope. It’s a beautiful thing from before computers and laser measuring. It was used to work out what type of lens a person would need in their glasses and it is covered with dials and knobs.”
Among the collection is Rolf’s first mobile phone which weighs about two kilograms.
He has tried to include something to represent the different stages through which technology of all types has gone.
The exhibition will feature the current display until the end of March, when it will be replaced by Rolf’s medical equipment exhibition.
Nowra Museum is located next to the Nowra Police Station and is open Saturday and Sunday afternoons and Tuesdays.