Most metal souvenir buildings are created either by pouring molten metal into a mold or they are die cast. But not all are produced this way. Most of us have seen these various TV and Radio tower replicas from Germany and I’ve always wondered how and why they were made because they seemed different than other souvenir towers. Although there must be hundreds made representing various towers around Germany, they don’t seem to be mass-produced for tourists. To me, they are clearly carved on a lathe in a machine shop using a solid blank of aluminum or brass metal. Many collectors believe they were crafted by German metal smith students honing their craft and now I’ve found proof. In the photo, below, the caption reads, "German chancellor Angela Merkel receives an aluminum model of the Berlin TV tower from the trainee Ricardo Krille during her visit at the Siemens trainee center in the machining department in Berlin, Germany, 7 May 2012. Trainees produce the miniature in a project which includes school and practical work.”A German resident also commented in a story about the towers on the website, Apartment Therapy, writing, “…these models are "Gesellenstücke" from people who learn to be a machinist. You have to learn for three years and at the end there is a theoretical and a practical test the "Gesellenprüfung" When you've done everything alright in that test, you are a “Handwerkergeselle.” There you have it – evidence of what some suspected for years. Now, you ask…why does Germany have so many towers like this around their country? Way before cable and the internet, TV and radio stations would broadcast their programs via airwaves emitting their signal from antennae atop these gigantic TV Towers, called Fernsehturm or Fernmeldeturm in German. The German towers tend to have lots of layers or 'shelves’ to support communication equipment. Throughout Germany there are seventy-seven or so such towers, six of which offer folks the chance to climb high above the ground to their observation decks. Born from practical reasons, many towers have now become iconic structures in their respective cities. So, Why do most major German cities have large TV towers, while you don’t see these structures in the rest or Europe or in the U.S.? This link has an interesting guess. North America does have towers which we also use for communication and the most notable examples are the Seattle Space needle and Toronto’s CN Tower. Other tall buildings including the Willis Tower in Chicago and World Trade Center in NYC have antennae on top, which eliminates the need for separate towers dedicated to communication.
Sunday, July 17, 2016
Many people mistakenly identify this building as the Tower of Babel, which looks much different. Others call is the Great Mosque of Samarra, which is closer, but still not 100% true. The true name is the Malwiya Minaret, which was part of what was the Great Mosque of Samarra in Iraq. Microsocms made metal replicas in a gold finish in the 1990’s and then later made solid bronze versions on a marble base. A few places sell plastic / resin replicas. Radafian bank also made a metal coin bank version. A spiraling conical design rising 52 meters high, the minaret of the Great Mosque of Samarra is the most prominent structure remaining of a mosque that was once the largest in the world. Called the‘malwiya’ or the snail shell minaret, this 180-foot tower was the main focal point of the mosque, which covered 42 acres at its peak. The minaret was originally connected to the mosque by a bridge. In the mid-9th century, the great work was commissioned by the Abbasid caliph Al-Mutawakkil who allegedly rode a white donkey up the spiraling paths to the top. Constructed of sandstons between 848 – 852, it is because of its ascending spiral conical design. The word "malwiya" translates as "twisted" or "snail shell" and was used for the call to prayer. Over time, the mosque was slowly destroyed and fell into disuse by the 11th century after the Hulagu Khan invasion of Iraq. Only the outer wall and its minaret remain.
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Did you know there is a large replica (difficult to call this a miniature) of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge in the Terminal 21 Mall in Bangkok, Thailand? Terminal 21 is an airport-themed shopping mall with each floor assigned to a different city around the world. Starting with a Caribbean-themed basement, Floor 1 is Tokyo, and Floor 2 features London. You can ‘visit’ Istanbul, the luxury stores of Rome and Paris or the streets of San Francisco with a red Golden Gate Bridge spanning the central atrium. I’ve written before about a large replica of the Parthenon in Nashville, Tennessee and cities in China being built to resemble other famous cities.
Tuesday, June 7, 2016
Sunday, June 5, 2016
Big thanks to my friend, Seiichiro, who was able to identify this replica as the Tokyo MetropolitanPolice Department Headquarters. There are no words, nor identification on the replica itself, which made it difficult to locate. The metal souvenir includes a lighter and helicopter-pad roof lid that, when removed, reveals a small storage box. This main building of the Keishicho is located in the Kasumigaseki part of central Tokyo just a block from the National Diet building. Constructed in 1980, it is 18 stories tall and is in the shape of a large wedge with a cylindrical tower. The Metropolitan Police, with a staff of more than 43,000 police officers and over 2,800 civilian personnel, manages 102 stations in the prefecture.
Sunday, May 29, 2016
I recently discovered this story about souvenir building collector Art Ratner on a website called QuirkyBerkeley. From the website, “In 1984, he began to collect miniature souvenir buildings. You see what happened was – as a nine-year-old boy, he lost a miniature Statue of Liberty somewhere between acquisition and getting home from a special outing with his mother to Liberty Island.” The article has lots of great photos of his collection.
Sunday, May 22, 2016
Missing the PBS show, Downton Abbey now that the series is over? Longing to have a nice place to store all of your diamond, gold and other jewels? Lord Grantham loves his house and you can too. A team working for the Queen’s nephew, David Linley, has recreated a wooden miniature replica of Highclere Castle in 10,944 pieces of maple marquetry. Created in a limited edition of just five, the cabinet has 72 square finials are turned on an ornamental lathe which ensures symmetry on each piece. Can’t afford the £65,000 (close to $100,000) price? I wrote previously about some Downton Abby / Highclere Castle souvenir replicas. I also found a plastic castle that illuminates and nice porcelain ornament and more from PBS. Also of note, the David Linley company creates Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello as a miniature architectural cigarhumidor.