Jackson Type I typewriter, €22,000 (£18,900) at Auction Team Breker.

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Although the modern typewriter ultimately assumed a single design, its invention was incremental and the product of numerous inquiring minds working independently or in competition over decades.

However, as the pace of business communications changed in the late 19th century, so the pace of typewriter development accelerated.

Some of the most desirable typewriters in the collecting field were offered by Cologne technology specialist Auction Team Breker (18% buyer’s premium) on March 23.

They shared two features in common: all dated from a relatively brief period c.1890-1905 – and none experienced much in the way of commercial success at that time.

'Fastest machine in the world'

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 priced at $100.

The curious ‘grasshopperaction’ 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 Breker, bearing the maker’s plaque reading Patented Jackson Typewriter, Boston, Mass with the serial no 653, was estimated at €15,000-20,000 and took €22,000 (£18,900) from an online bidder using LiveAuctioneers.

It is one of only a few Jackson Type II models known although another, with the serial no 597, took €18,000 (£15,450) at the saleroom in April 2020.

Forward thinking


Ford typewriter, €29,000 (£24,900) at Auction Team Breker.

The Ford typewriter was introduced in 1895 by Eugene Ford, an engineer who (no relation to Henry), later became chief development engineer at a firm called the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company. It later changed its name to IBM.

Unlike many competing typewriters of this time, the Formt was a forward-striking machine (allowing the typist to see the text as it was typed) and was the first typewriter to use aluminium in its construction. The copperplated type-bar cover is beautifully decorated and its signature feature.

The example here was in working, original condition and had a low serial number 417, it hammered to an internet bidder for €29,000 (£24,900) against a €16,000-22,000 estimate.

Clearly admired


Kosmopolit typewriter, €18,000 (£15,450) at Auction Team Breker.

The Kosmopolit, patented by the sewing machine manufacturer Guhl & Harbeck of Hamburg, was introduced to the German market at the end of 1888.

An index machine (with the letters chosen using a pointer rather than a keyboard) it could produce 90 different letters and symbols carried in two rows on a rubber type plate. The writing can be seen only when the typist raises the carriage.

Admired for its clear typing, it was exported to several European countries, but it seems to have disappeared from the record around 1903.

Now a rarity, it hammered to a LiveAuctioneers bidder for €18,000 (£15,450) against an estimate of €8000-12,000.

Simple approach


Coffman Pocket Typewriter, €7000 (£6000) at Auction Team Breker.

Index machines were slower to use than keyboard type machines but proved popular for a couple of decades as they were mechanically simpler, lighter and cheaper.

The model patented by Dr George Williamson Coffman (1859-1943) of St Louis in 1902, called the Coffman Pocket Typewriter, weighed under 1.5lbs and retailed at $5. The characters were selected with the right hand from a two-row rubber index plate using an indicator. They were probably made only for a couple of years, so the example offered here in its original wood casket is extremely rare.

Estimated at €3000-5000, it went to a LiveAuctioneers bidder at €7000 (£6000).

Leica ‘grail’


Leica ‘Luxus’ 1 camera with the serial number 48442 for 1931, €150,000 (£127,000) at Auction Team Breker.

The ‘sensational’ result in this Auction Team Breker sale was provided by one of only 95 Leica ‘Luxus’ 1 cameras produced from 1929-31. This model, with its goldplated upper and lower parts and snakeskin, is among the ‘grail’ pieces for Leica collectors. Back in 2012, one sold for a record £600,000 at Bonhams in Hong Kong.


Leica ‘Luxus’ 1 camera with the serial number 48442 for 1931, €150,000 (£127,000) at Auction Team Breker.

The Luxus 1 offered here, with the serial number 48442, dated from 1931 and had a link to Fritz and Alfred Rotter – the most prominent private theatre directors during the Weimar Republic before they fled Berlin in 1933.

With the estimate set at a relatively modest €18,000-24,000, it hammered at €150,000 (£127,000).