COLOGNE, Germany – Power and motion are the themes of Auction Team Breker’s sale of Science, Technology and Toys on Nov. 11. From hand-turned physical demonstration instruments to early electrical devices, steam-powered models, all manner of mechanical toys and monumental spring-driven musical boxes, the auction includes something for every collector. Absentee and Internet live bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers.
Konrad Zuse’s futuristic cityscape of 1991 (above) paints a picture of a world pulsing with energy in hues of orange and electric blue (estimate: €8,000–€15,000 / $9,400–$17,600) – a fitting image for the inventor of the first programmable electro-mechanical computer. Born in 1910, Zuse studied architecture and engineering at the Technical University of Berlin-Charlottenburg. He began designs for the very first self-programming computer as early as 1934, leading to the “Z1” in 1938, the “Z2” in 1940 and his breakthrough – the “Z3” – 1941.
Zuse described his profession as representing the “ideal combination of artist and engineer” and his artistic work is witness to his deep-seated interest in architecture, mathematics and space as a concrete as well as an abstract property.
The 200-strong section of early calculating machines, combining precision mechanics with striking visual designs, is highlighted by a stunning, circular Mercedes “Gauss” stepped-disc calculator (below), 1905, by Christel Hamann of Berlin (est. €7,000–€10,000 / $8,200–$12,000).
Another work combining technology and artistry is a linden wooden sewing machine sculpture (est. €8,000–€12,000 / $9,400–$14,000) by New York-based Japanese artist Fumio Yoshimura. The simple, pared-down lines of Yoshimura’s work, which he described as representing the “ghosts of the original objects,” is reminiscent of the Pop Art era.
Le Cochon Electriseur (The Electrifying Pig) electric shock machine is part of a remarkable collection of figural penny arcade machines produced in France and Germany at a time when the slogan “Electricity is Life” could be found on electric-magnetic medical devices. These devices claimed to cure all manner of maladies from mild aches and pains to asthma, obesity, insomnia and paralysis (est. €20,000– €30,000 / $23,500–$35,200).
On a brighter note, the Stork Chocolate Vendor by MUM-Automaten GmbH of Dresden is another rare machine in Auction Team Breker’s sale (est. €20,000–€30,000 / $24,000–$35,000.
Fresh from the toy chest comes a large-scale Ride-in Morgan Model Car with its original internal combustion engine (est. €3,500–€5,000 / $4,100–$5,900).
The sale is rounded off by an exciting range of early office antiques, highlighted by a rare miniature Trebla (“Darling”) typewriter by Sullivan & Co. GmbH of Berlin (est. €2,500 – €4,000 / $2,900 – $4,700) and an American “M-209 B” Cryptographic Machine of 1944 (est. €700 – €1,200 / $820 – $1,400).