Raja Ramakrishna Chinna Swamy Naidu, a 22-year-old from Vizag, Andhra Pradesh has an avid fascination for rare items. Stamps, coins, musical instruments, he collects them all.
“My love for preserving heritage is more than just a hobby,” he notes. And today, he introduces us to 10 out of the numerous artefacts that his collection houses.
1. VeenaThe instrument was bought from Thanjavur in Tamilnadu bedecked in ivory and it is still in working condition.“My great grandmother late Smt C Rajeswaramma used to play this veena when she was young,” says Raja.
2. Ivory scaleWhen Raja’s great-grandfather was serving in the British empire as an engineer, he used the ivory scales which he’d gotten from London.
Made from elephant ivory, the scales were very popular as they were durable and sturdy. “This particular model was manufactured between 1880-1900, and he used it for making drawings and surveying,” he says.
3. Coins of the British era“These coins were collected by my father during his school days and date back to the time period of 1833 to 1947. In those days, 16 annas were equal to one rupee,” says Raja.
The coins were made of bronze, nickel-brass, cupro-nickel, and aluminium-bronze.
4. Vintage jewellery boxes and soapbox“Elephant ivory is one of the strongest materials that exist, and this is why the boxes are preserved to date. They have come down through the ages as a kind of treasure in my family,” he notes.
5. Antique showpieceThis artefact has been in Raja’s family for over 100 years now.“It is made of rare red sandalwood, one of the rarest woods prevalent and also one of the most expensive.”
6. Vintage film cameras“My father was very interested in photography and would use and collect these cameras in his day. They were known as reel cameras and were used in the 1990s,” says Raja.
He says that while some of the cameras are still in working condition there are no studios these days that print these reel camera photocopies.
7. Antique box gramophoneThe gramophone belongs to Raja’s great-grandfather and was made in erstwhile British Switzerland.
8. Vintage glass bottlesRecounting an anecdote, Raja says, “The tallest bottle (1800 ml) and the glass jar were contributed by my grandfather’s colleague Late Sri V S S V Rama Rao. He bought both of them for 50 paise from a Russian ship during his service at SAIL in around 1965.”
9. Vintage film projector“In earlier days people would watch films and videos with the help of 8 mm reels on this projector manufactured by The Keystone Camera Company in the USA in the early 1940s,” says Raja.
10. Oldest Civil Service Examination certificatesRaja was excited when he came across old Civil Service Examination certificates of his great great grandfather Late Sri Cetty Nagamayya Swami Naidu — the Circle Inspector of police during the British Raj — from the years 1880, ‘87 and ‘89.