To reflect on the passing of Jim Krughoff [on February 20th, 2018],
I thought I should characterize him as I saw him both as a collector
Jim's passion was to collect the rare, unusual, and the best in
category. Once he acquired an instrument, it was given the finest
restoration possible. The scarce rolls for those instruments were
gathered from his own efforts and collections of others and then
carefully reproduced for a group of subscribers, thus preserving more
than just the instrument. Once operational, the instrument was
meticulously shared through events at his home or through CD recordings
that he gave away.
At every opportunity, Jim presented each instrument with the best
rolls after carefully researching the rolls to demonstrate the
instruments unique capability. As he introduced each instrument
or roll, he carefully credited everyone involved in making the
presentation a reality. Highlighting how the roll made use of the
instrument attributes was always part of Jim's comments.
Jim also commissioned new work such a Verbeeck street organ, Double
Phonoliszt Violina, and Banjo Orchestra and rolls for some of them.
Those of us who did restorations for Jim, and I am a very minor player
in that group, were appreciative of his academic approach. To us, it
was obvious Jim was not a hoarder, but rather a pure student with the
means to preserve the best.
When collectors came from great distances to the Chicago area for other
events, Jim would always host an open house, even if his collection was
not in their itinerary. He felt that if they had traveled that far,
he should offer a tour of his collection even if it was inconvenient
for him to do so.
My fondest moments were those nights when we would play rolls, just
two or three of us, and enjoy Old Style beer -- a popular Chicago
(Wisconsin, actually) blue collar brew -- at his fabulous bar
surrounded by fantastic, rare machines
With wife Sherrie at his side, always using her finely honed
organizational skills and love for the instruments too, thousands of
visitors and collectors enjoyed their huge collection that was always
intelligently and humbly presented in a relaxed setting.
He never boasted, he just shared. That was Jim. Like his machines,
he was rare, unique, and the best.