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How the world lived 150 years back
This unusual museum has a collection of lifestyle products and utilities that people used in the last century and earlier, reports by AMITABH DASGUPTA

Thomas Antonio da Costa, a retired marine electrical engineer, has one abiding passion in life - collecting vintage instruments, appliances and objects and repairing and restoring them as close to originality as possible. The work calls for a technical bent of mind and the dedication of an artist. He calls himself a ''technical artist''. And his effort has indeed resulted in pieces of forgotten and discarded junk turning into works of art.

Thomas's collection is now displayed in a fusion of old and new architectural building at Chadwaddo in Varca village of Salcete and is named the 'San Thome Museum- Back in Time'. It opened in January this year-Goa's latest museum.

The museum is thematically arranged, and would be an eye-opener for today's kids who take electronic gadgets for granted. Among the exhibits are two typewriters-a First World War era 1919 Remington 10 and a Second WW era 1940 Imperial 58 with the world's first 'tab' function.

Even more fascinating are the manual calculators which had clockwork cogs and gears and used for billing, accounting and on teller counters in banks. Thomas has managed to restore an 1887 Comptometer manual calculator with 134 buttons which actually works! Also on display are some hand-cranked billing machines by Facit- the world's best known company for such machines.

The music section is equally fascinating with its collection of Gramophone record players and tape record players. The main attractions are a hand-cranked Diana 1949 Columbia phonograph and some His Masters Voice gramophone with long-playing records-which still play.

The must-see pieces in this section are the two Japanese 28.5 kg Akai X-355D and 16.5 Akai GX-255D spool tape players- in working condition.

The photography section has some early single lens box-cameras, clockwork and motorized movie cameras and movie projectors-all using film rolls.

But the piece to be seen is an impeccably restored 133-year old German Schiedmier grand piano with ivory keys-''the only known and still working piece in existence in Asia'' as Thomas claims. It sits surrounded by other musical instruments like 1961 tenor saxophone, a vintage Lincoln trombone, an old sitar, a mini trumpet, violins and another 133-year old 'upright' piano-all in working condition.

The museum also has a collection of old clocks, time-pieces and watches-several still working-and a collection of wood, coal, oil and kerosene lamps and stoves. But the piece that catches the eye is a clothes iron with an ingenious built-in kerosene stove to heat it.

Apart from this, there is some rare vintage crockery, cutlery, glassware and kitchenware, including some traditional measuring devices. The must-see item is a large First WW army barracks wine bottle with a lock.

But the one item that catches the eye, as one comes out is the massive 3.3 tonne 'Apshi' anchor which is a replica of the main anchor on the legendary Titanic. How Thomas managed to get it is a story by itself.

  • Location: San Thome Simplex, Chadwado, Varca, Salcete, Goa 403721
  • Curator: Thomas Antonio da Costa (9822363917)
  • Exhibits: More than 500 (takes about half a day to see major exhibits in the 3-storey museum)
  • Timings: 9 am to 8 pm, all days of the week
  • Facilities: parking space, toilet, affordable restaurant on the premises
  • Entry Fee: Rs 100 for adults, Rs 50 for children below 14 (about 50% concessions for school groups)
  • Website:
GT Weekender
4th May 2014
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