A few years ago, I had a call out of the blue from the caretaker of the mansion in Lenox, Mass., of the late Milos Krofta. Fred had found out that I was interested in papermaking and paper history and suggested he had something that might fit both categories.
He sure did. First, a bit of history. Milos Krofta was a brilliant engineer and entrepreneur originally from Yugoslavia. He became involved in the paper industry there and was in charge of three mills as a young man. With the outbreak of World War II, his mills were confiscated by the Italians and Germans. In 1945, the remaining mill was again confiscated, this time by Communist Russia. When he learned that he was to be arrested as a capitalist enemy of the people, he fled to Trieste and freedom.
For six years, Krofta operated successfully as a consultant in Switzerland and Italy. In 1951, when the war in Korea erupted and the Italian Communist Party made great political gains, the Kroftas immigrated to the United States.
OK, back to Lenox. In Krofta’s basement, there was a papermaker’s dream: a complete mini paper mill. There was (sorry while I fall into paper-speak) a Voith cycle beater, an automated headbox pulp delivery system, a hydraulically assisted vat, a 100-ton hydraulic press, a pilot plant calender and a drying system that used hot oil – yikes! This stuff was so large, that it had to have been assembled in-place. It was marvelously over-engineered.
I made all sorts of calls to see if I could get anyone to take these machines out of the basement to save them, but alas, they were too big. They are now scrap.
But I did save one thing, and I could use your help solving a bit of a mystery. Here’s the machine:
Here’s the identifying label:
So, I know it’s a micro paper machine. I sort of guessed that before seeing the label, as there are some recognizable elements inside the machine, albeit quite a bit smaller.
So, what’s its history? Did it every work? Are there any others in existence?
So many questions, but one thing is certain: I will get this thing making paper. I’m sure it won’t be any time soon, but it will make paper. I could sure use some help.