Auction Result Show Strong Interest in Early Office Technology

Auction Team Breker’s online auction of Office Antiques, Science & Technology, Fine Toys, and Automata that concluded on May 24 featured some rarely seen office technology from the 19th and 20th century. It also offered several iconic microcomputers including an Apple Lisa and a MITS Altair 8800. The results show that interest in early technology, not to mention the computers, is strong.

I’ve always been fascinated by early office technology, and this auction featured a wide variety of items from mechanical calculators to cipher machines to typewriters. Results for some of the more interesting items follow. Breker is a European auction house, so I’ve converted the original sale prices from euros to dollars. You can see the full results for yourself at LiveAuction, but you will need to register and log in to see the final prices.

Swiss “Conto” Model C Calculating Machine, $1,090: This brass and leather device is an 11-digit adding machine from 1912.

Mercedes-Euklid Model 1, $477: Built in 1905, this calculating machine from Germany has lots of levers and buttons. The manufacturer has no relation to the maker of Mercedes cars.

Loga Calculator, $218: About 30,000 of these cylindrical slide rules were made by the Swiss manufacturer Heinrich Daemon-Schmid between 1900 and 1935. The Smithsonian has one in its collection.

Addo Calculator Poster, $1,226: Old tech ephemera has value to collectors if the subject matter and visuals are good. Still, the selling price of this poster surprised me. I’m guessing there was some crossover interest here from poster collectors.

Arithmomètre de Thomas de Colmar (case only), $12,258: Yes, the winning bidder paid more than $12K just for the case of the world’s first calculating machine produced in series around 1850. When you consider that the actual calculator sold for more than $318K at auction last year, this could be a bargain.

Casio AL-1000 Nixie Tube Calculator, $409: This early programmable calculator from 1967 appears to be in working condition.

Nema T-D Cipher Machine, $3,816: According to Breker, this is a successor the the German WWII enigma machines and was built for the Swiss army. Only 640 were made, and this one is described as in mint condition.

Hagelin-Crypto CD-57 Cipher Machine, $3,816: The Swiss must have had a thing for cipher machines. This example is a “pocket cryptographer” built in 1957.

MITS Altair 8800, $3,952: Although described as in good working order, the auction description says it has the MITS CPU board and 4K RAM. If those really are the only boards in the system, then the price seems on the high side.

Apple Lisa 2/5, $3,543: This working example includes the Apple Profile external hard drive and the Lisa Office System disk set. A Lisa 1 was also part of the auction, but did not sell. Breker had estimated its selling price at between $25,000 and $34,000.

NeXT Cube, $3,543: Another system in good working order, and its selling price suggests that these first-generation NeXT systems are becoming more in demand.

Discret, $8,995: This odd device from 1899 is described as a “world typewriter.” It appears to be some kind of cipher writing machine.








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