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The Writing Ball, shown right, was the first typewriter ever serially produced and the model presented here was original “in all parts and details”. It was invented by Pastor Rasmus Hans Johan Malling, director of the Deaf-and-Dumb Institute in Copenhagen and, apart from its remarkable design, was 50 years ahead of its time with such refinements as space bar, automatic carriage return, automatic line spacing, indented lines, bell to signal the end of the line and ribbon reverse.

Each of the 54 spring-driven hemispherical type bars slides in a different angle to a slender central printing pole; all letters were engraved manually onto the end of the type bars by professional copperplate engravers.

Only around 180 Writing Balls were ever made – this one bore the serial n°68 – and most of the 30 or so still known to exist are in museum collections. Only two are believed to remain in private hands, both, however, featuring Moon’s alphabet for the blind.

Auction Team Köln also sold an 1873 Sholes & Glidden typewriter, a “milestone in the history of the office equipment industry”, whose design was equally pioneering at the time, although it now looks more
traditional. This particular model, with its colourful decoration, was serial n°2994 and, although lacking four characters and with two type bars and drawbands replaced, it proved rare enough to attract a
double-estimate DM60,000 (£19,200).