“Mucki”, as the small Kapsch radio brought onto the market in 1948 was called, numbers among Erwin Macho’s favorite pieces. Just recently, someone gave him the original sketch for this radio, which was developed by Josip Slišković. The two envelopes, one with a sketch in color and the other with a sketch in black and white, have more significance than is apparent at first glance. It is precisely such moments that always breathe new life into Erwin Macho’s passion for collecting.
Macho has always been a collector. As a child, he was excited by stamps as well as orange paper, the thin paper printed with colorful images that was once used to wrap oranges. It may have been fate that his interest later shifted toward historical entertainment electronics since Macho joined Kapsch in 1973 as an apprentice in the area of radio and television technology. Even then, he was fascinated by the broad range of products, and in his free time he sought out historical highlights and rarities from Kapsch. This led to Macho taking over responsibility as a freelancer for the collection and documentation of historical Kapsch products at the start of the nineties. He knows every piece, whether in his archive or in the Kapsch Museum, like the back of his hand. Each one has its own history, which Macho explains with a great love of detail. It is especially interesting where he finds the historical items. Weekly flea market visits and browsing through the wares of antique dealers are as much a part of his work as daily searches on Ebay. Over the years, this has resulted in the creation of a proper network, which Macho maintains alongside his work as an instructor at the polytechnic HTL Wien 10 and as an expert in historical entertainment technology at the Dorotheum in Vienna.
At the Kaspch Museum, one can marvel today at a small selection of his years of dedication. His objective as a museum curator is to preserve the memory of Kapsch and the people who have left their mark on the company. Nothing should be forgotten.
There is a wonderful saying among collectors: You get more from waiting than from running around, and so it is. Patience is therefore extremely critical. You have to be prepared to wait for decades for some devices. In other words, those that can be sold quickly also vanish quickly from the collector scene. But when you wait patiently for a piece, you are always rewarded. This is actually what is exciting about the whole endeavor.
Moreover, you must not give up when some things don’t go exactly how you would like. You must never lose sight of your goal. Plus, you have to be well connected in the collector scene.
What comes in-between. There are always two people who everyone knows. The one who founded the company and the one currently running it. But those who fall in the middle are generally forgotten. For example, only a few people know about the four sons of Johann Kapsch, and many young employees no longer know Karl Kapsch, the father of Georg und Kari Kapsch. This remembrance, this preservation of the underlying ideas and dynamics of the company from yesterday and today is very important. In other words, for me, the work begins where the forgetting starts.
I don’t think quitting is really an issue yet; perhaps someday doing a little bit less, but I don’t currently see any reason not to continue. Naturally my work at the school* will come to an end in a few years, but there is still plenty of unfinished archiving work at Kapsch.
Except perhaps, if there is someone better for the museum. I am open to that, but only if the person is dedicated, well anchored within the company and also exhibits the proper appreciation and understanding.
*(Editor’s note.: Erwin Macho teaches at a polytechnic in the 10th district.)
I wouldn’t give any advice at all; instead I would listen first to what the person is prepared to do. And if I saw a good idea there as well as dedication, then I would give tips, such as where to find good craftsmen and technicians who can help out with repairs or restorations.
Surprisingly, not as much as one might believe. Naturally, I am pleased that this anniversary is being celebrated appropriately, but personally I value every day on which I can observe what is happening at Kapsch.