1. Jackson Type I typewriter – €18,000
Joseph Hassel Jackson’s Typewriter Company of Boston, Massachusetts advertised its first ‘time and labour saving’ product in August 1899. The Jackson Type I designed by factory foreman Andrew Wilton Steiger (1856-1935), was promoted as the ‘fastest machine in the world’ and was priced at $100.
The curious ‘grasshopper-action’ is described by Darryl Rehr in Antique Typewriters and Office Collectibles (1997) as follows: “Each type-bar resembles an elongated pantograph, with the scissors action accomplishing the mechanical gymnastics [that causes each bar to] do a somersault on its way to the platen.”
With only a few units produced and sold across four years (the Jackson Type II made c.1903 has a different typebar arrangement and keyboard layout) it is one of the rarest typewriters in the collecting hobby.
The example offered by Cologne technology specialist auctioneer Auction Team Breker (21.8% buyer’s premium) on April 4, bearing the maker’s plaque reading Patented Jackson Typewriter, Boston, Mass with the serial no. 597 was one of only a few units produced.
Estimated at €10,000-15,000, it took €18,000 (£15,850).
2. Waterloo officer’s pistols – £4400
The sale conducted ‘live online’ by arms and armour specialist Antony Cribb in Oxfordshire on April 3 included this pair of flintlock officer’s pistols signed ‘Osborn Gonby & Co’. An inscription to the box reads: ‘John Jessop 44th Regiment’.
In the Waterloo Roll Call Captain Jessop is listed under Assistant Quartermasters-General and is described by General Sir George L'Estrange as “a splendid officer, a perfect Gentleman...”
This Waterloo connection added lustre to the pair of pistols sold via thesaleroom.com at £4400.
3. Maw & Co red lustre charger – £3600
Lyon & Turnbull held a fine sale of Decorative Arts: Design from 1860 on April 1 – the firm’s first auction using the behind-closed-doors format. Close to 1400 potential buyers registered across three different platforms and phones.
Bids were communicated to the rostrum via the video-conferencing software now familiar to all of those working from home. Some 83% of the catalogue was sold for a total of £570,000. And all rules on social distancing were respected.
A candidate for ‘object of the day’ was an exceptional ruby lustre charger made c.1890 by Maw & Co at the Benthall ‘tile’ works in Jackfield, Shropshire. Measuring an impressive 22in (55cm) and decorated with thistles, roses and shamrocks within a border of tridents and sea beasts, it outsold pieces in the sale by William de Morgan when it took £3600.
It’s by no means a record for the factory but it is the sort of sum typically reserved for the small number of Maw & Co pieces designed by Walter Crane.
4. Lord Mayor’s letter – £400
A letter penned by a former Mayor of London in 1814 generated unexpected interest at British Bespoke Auctions in Winchcombe. The three pages were written by George Scholey, a banker and Lord Mayor of London in 1812, to one Rev Brown in Sandal, Wakefield on August 24, 1814.
Much of the text relates Scholey’s recent visit to France in the immediate days after the first reign of Napoleon.
Speculating that his was ‘the first English family that had appeared since the termination of the War’ the account includes an analysis of the recent harvest, the relative cost of produce, exchange rates and several references to ‘the idleness of the natives’.
It was estimated at £30-50 at the auction on April 1 but sold at £400 via thesaleroom.com.
5. Chinese painting – $40,000
Estimated to bring $2000-4000 at the sale held by Sarasota, Florida auction firm Helmuth Stone Gallery on April 5, this oil by Chinese artist Zhan Jianjun (b.1931) sold for $40,000 (£30,000).
The subject is fog in the Stone Forest, the famous limestone formations in Yunnan province. This 2ft 3in x 2ft (67 x 65cm) painting came for sale from the family of James Helzer (1946-2008), the founder of stamp collectables firm Unicover Corporation. Although unsigned, it was commissioned directly from the artist by Helzer for Unicover and appeared on a stamp issue in 1981.