Typewriter treasure trove goes on block Nov. 24

COLOGNE, Germany – It’s fascinating and heartbreaking for an auction house to sell a rare collection, according to auctioneer Uwe H. Breker. On one hand, the opportunity to manage a large collection is a source of pride. On the other, the auctioneer is responsible for dispersing a collection that took decades to assemble. In rare cases the collection itself can be more notable than the antiques.

That’s the situation Breker faces as he prepares his Nov. 24 auction of the Remington Typewriter Museum, and the L.C. Smith and Corona typewriter collection. The items represent the first important collection of writing machines created, stashed away since the 1870s.

Breker first learned about the collection 25 years ago while working at the Smithsonian Institution. He tracked the collection through several corporate acquisitions until he located it in a storage facility of the Onondaga Historical Museum & Research Center in Syracuse, N.Y., the original home of the Remington Typewriter Co. Packed in boxes, the collection was water damaged and nearly lost to history.

“At least 50 percent of the boxes showed water marks from various floods caused by broken water pipes,” Breker said. He worked with the historical society over five years to carefully repair and photograph the machines and helped organize a small exhibition in 1989. Last year the museum asked Breker to sell the collection.

“We are honored to offer these unbelievable machines within the next two years to museums and collectors all over the world,” Breker said.

The auction on Nov. 24 includes a rare Sholes & Glidden typewriter, circa 1873. Developed in Milwaukee, it is the world’s first successfully mass-produced typewriter and is expected to sell for $25,000-$40,000. Another rarity, a Blickensderfer Electric, is the world’s first electric typewriter. It also is expected sell for $25,000 to $40,000. Rounding out the rarities is a Travis typewriter, circa 1905 that carries a presale estimate of $3,000-$5,000.

More information on Auction Team Koln’s Nov. 24 sale is available at www.breker.com. The auction will be conducted live on the Internet. A catalog will be available in early November.