COLOGNE, Germany – Iconic technical inventions of every epoch are to be found at Auction Team Breker’s sale on Nov. 24. LiveAuctioneers.com will provide Internet live bidding. The auction will begin at 10 a.m. Central European Time (1 a.m. Pacific Standard Time, 4 a.m. Eastern).
Important milestones from the dawn of the home computer age will be offered, such as Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems’s (MITS) Altair 8800 minicomputer of 1975, for which Bill Gates and Paul Allen designed their first micro-software and established their company, Microsoft.
Just one year later American students Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak introduced the Apple 1, the first personal computer with monitor and keyboard access, leading to the founding of Apple Inc. Only six working examples of the Apple 1 are known worldwide, one of which was sold in June in New York for $374,500. Now another of these six working models has been discovered by Auction Team Breker and will be offered on Nov. 24.
The development of computing and calculating machines for children is also offered in the form of a Calculating Robot Answer Game by Japanese firm Ischida, produced circa 1963. The example in the auction is still in its colorful original box.
The first patented copier by steam-engine inventor James Watt from 1780; the first serially produced adding machine, the “Arithmomètre” by Thomas de Colmar; the sensational prototype phonograph (1892) by Casimir Sivan, who was the earliest Swiss filmmaker (1896) and T.A. Edison’s first agent in Switzerland, as well as an ingenious horologist in his own right, are among the top items in this auction.
Another sophisticated milestone in technical history will be going under the hammer is the Enigma from 1943, Germany’s legendary cipher machine, which dramatically influenced the course of World War II. This technical wonder enabled the use of 22 billion possible codes.
Mechanical life of the 19th century is represented by a stellar group of French automata, the robots of their day, by Parisian makers Gustave Vichy, Roullet et Decamps, Leopold Lambert, Phalibois and Louis Renou. One of the most complex, a handsome acrobat by Vichy, performs perfect handstands on a pair of swaying stilts, while a pretty Lady Magician with bisque head by Jumeau conjures up a different actor on the stage of her magic theater each time the curtain rises.
In this magical world anything is possible. A Drunken Chef holds a pot containing a cat, which sticks out its tongue every time he turns his attention to the bottle; an elegant Japanese Lady pours tea and twirls her parasol; a tiny doll performs pirouettes on a table while the Dance Mistress (a larger doll by Jumeau) directs with a baton and peers imperiously through her lorgnette. Another large and impressive piece is the Siffleur by Phalibois, which whistles two realistic tunes while winking and pointing cheekily.
There is also a selection of early amusement machines, including a rare cast-iron Automatic Shooting Range and its still rarer companion, Try Your Grip, by the Mechanical Trading Co. of London. The Electric Sailor from circa 1895 has light-up eyes and a shocking handshake, while a toy with more serious purpose as a piece of demonstration apparatus is the tin Benjamin Franklin Lightning Rod House by Charles Chevalier, Paris, circa 1860. It is a tin building with collapsible roof and walls, which explodes each time an electric charge is introduced to the brass lightning rod on the top.
Two magnificent pieces of demonstration apparatus are the finely engineered working model of a four-pillar cylinder steam engine and a James Watt-type beam steam engine, both from the early 1850s.
Also offered will be a fascinating selection of mechanical musical instruments such as the rare 11 3/4-inch disc Gambrinus Symphonion with the original terracotta figure of the legendary Belgian king (and unofficial patron saint of beer) raising a toast from the top. Fine antique cylinder musical boxes include an early 18-karat gold snuff box with Swiss “sectional-comb” movement inside and an exquisite blue enamel diamond-set musical compact by St. Petersburg jeweler August Hollming, circa 1915.
There is a splendid assortment of unusual talking machines, from the functional Regina Hexaphone phonograph changer to the elegant and rare Edison Idelia and the bizarre Eureka by the chocolate manufacturer Stollwerck, which played edible chocolate records. Another gramophone designed with children in mind is the rare Edison Bell Picturegram with fairy tale panoramic spools that roll by as the relevant record is telling the story.
Highlights from the other antique toys are an impressive 1: 24-scale English live steam locomotive Robert the Devil, an early bench-made live steam floor locomotive and a collection of classic cast-iron mechanical banks.
Visit http://www.YouTube.com/AuctionTeamBreker for videos of the mechanical toys and automata in action.
For details phone +49/2236/38 43 40 or email Auction@Breker.com.
ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE