The great thing about going on press trips is not that you get free meals, or free lodging, but that you get to experience places that only few people do when they travel. And if you are lucky enough to have an eloquent and knowledgeable tour guide, then you may get a very different perspective on the culture and history of those places. Such was the case of our FAM trip to the Swedish castles, in the beautiful region of Södermanland.
To tell you the truth, I didn’t know much about this part of Sweden before we started on this trip, but after these four days I got hooked. It might have been the charming eloquence of Elizabeth Daude, our guide, or perhaps the magic of this land made up of thousands of small islands on the Baltic Sea. Whatever the reason, when the trip ended I found myself wanting more.
One of the places on our itinerary was Sparreholm Castle. Tucked away in an oak forest and surrounded by the glittering waters of Lake Båven, this stylish manor house may seem like a remote and peaceful retreat, but don’t let its appearance fool you. The quirky Sparreholm Castle is a collector’s dream come true.
Now, if you were to start a collection what would it be? Would it be cars, or motorcycles, or maybe bicycles? Or would it be games and toys? Or maybe vacuum cleaners, wagons, typewriters, radios and TV sets? Perhaps music boxes and record players? How about all that and even more? Well, Mr. Helge Karinen –the owner of the castle– was a very wealthy man with a passion for collecting things. He spent almost his entire life acquiring an odd array of objects. From vintage cars and music boxes, to bikes, toys, telephones and even vacuum cleaners, he collected everything (or at least so it seems.)
Helge Karinen, now 86, no longer lives in the grandiose and opulent Sparreholm castle which has been turned into a museum and guesthouse run today by his daughter. The exquisitely decorated rooms are rented by visitors from all over the world who are looking to experience not only luxury, but also some very unusual museums.
Sparreholm Castle is home to one of Europe’s biggest jukebox collections and to a huge car museum. The car museum contains 65 vintage and classic automobiles from the late 1800s to the present day. All of them look impeccable, like they just got out of the factory.
“There are more cars, but we don’t have enough room to display them here” Karinen’s grandson who’s leading the tour tells us. “My grandfather had them stored in a barn for now.”
Among other rare automobiles, the car collection has a Mercedes 540K from 1936, once owned by Prince Gustaf Adolf. “This is a car that never went into production,” we are told. The car was designed after WWI, as part of a contest to find an affordable family car, but the Volkswagen Beetle won the competition instead.
Mercedes felt humiliated and tried to destroy the prototype. They found out that Helge Karinen owned one and tried to buy it from him. They offered him a tremendous amount of money, but he refused to sell it. “If it’s worth so much money, I don’t want to sell it,” he replied.
Sparreholm Castle also displays one of the world’s largest jukebox collections. An entire floor of music boxes and music machines in all shapes and sizes (around 250 of them).
On the floor below you can follow the technical development of barrel organs, phonographs and gramophones up until the era of the jukebox.
There is also a carriage museum where you can see carriages and sleighs from the late 1700s until the 1940s, and also a large display of bikes and motorcycles.
It’s amazing to what extent people can go when it comes to their passions. The extensive collections at Sparreholm Castle make you wander if Helge Karinen was a passionate collector or maybe just a hoarder. Even the little café adjacent to the castle displays a large number of metal posters.
Collections, collections and more collections. Sparreholm Castle may not compete with Gripsholm’s grandeur and popularity, but the quaint retreat is a collector’s dream come true.