Technology emerges in Auction Team Breker sales May 25-26
COLOGNE, Germany – From the scientific to the surreal, Auction Team Breker’s two-day technology auction on May 25–26 offers something for every collector’s cabinet. Absentee and Internet live bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers.
Highlights include a significant single-owner section of monocular opera glasses from the 18th–20th century. Ingenuity and craftsmanship are combined in over 80 examples embellished with gold, precious stones and enamel. Estimates range from €200 to €15,000.
Also showcased are early analytical instruments like the Wilson-type pocket microscope (below; estimate: €1,500–€2,000 / $1,750–$2,300) and an English Culpeper-type microscope by John Bleuler (estimate: €2,000–€3,000 / $2,300–$3,500). This fine private collection provides an intimate look at medicine in Victorian England with trepanning and amputation sets by S. Maw, Son & Thompson (estimates: €1,000–€1,500 / $1,200–$1,750).
Condition and rarity act as multiplicators in the field of office antiques. Landmark calculators from the first serial production number Thomas de Colmar’s 1870 “Arithmomètre” in an ebony presentation case (estimate: €2,000–€3,000 / $2,300–$3,500) and a scarce rolltop “Saxonia” by Schumann & Co. of Glashütte (estimate: €2,500–€4,000 / $2,900–$4,700). A stylish “Thürey” typewriter (below) from Cologne makes a handsome companion for the writing desk (estimate: €15,000–€25,000 / $17,600–$29,000).
Breker will also be opening the toy chest on a wonderful assortment of antique playthings from select European private collections.
Model boats are especially well represented as the auction includes a fleet of fine German tin ships. At the vanguard is a superior example of the Fürst Bismark (below), the largest toy battleship in Gebrüder Bing’s 1909 catalog (estimate: €30,000–€40,000 / $37,000–$49,000).
More peaceable and on a smaller scale are Bing’ 1918 Imperator ocean liner (estimate: €1,800–€2,500 / $2,200–$3,000) and Fleischmann’s elegant tourist steamer from the 1930s (estimate: €2,000–€3,000 / $2,400–$4,300).
Upping the stakes is a remarkable rally of vintage land transport. Fresh to the market and in near-mint condition are a group of seldom-seen boxed tin toys from the 1950s: a Studebaker convertible by Günthermann (estimate: €400–€600 / $500–$750) 23781 and Dux construction kits by Markes & Co. KG of Lüdenscheid, Germany (estimates: €1,300–€1,800 / $1,600–$2,200). 23734
No toy chest would be complete without its trains. The earliest in the auction is a precision-built electric demonstration model from the 1880s, probably English, with a folding mahogany track-bed and matching travelling case. Estimate: €5,000–€8,000 / $6,000–$10,000). On a larger scale is a set of Märklin Gauge I locomotives, carriages and rolling stock – again in near-mint condition. Rolling in with their original livery colors are a majestic CER 65 / 13021 steam locomotive (estimate: €2,500–€3,500 / $3,000–$4,300).
Air travel encompasses both the practical and the fantastical. In the first category, a Märklin “Ju52” kit airplane from the mid-1930s (estimate: €1,800–€2,500 / $2,200–$3,000). In the second, an enchanting “Aubade à la Lune” automaton by Gustave Vichy (below; estimate: €18,000–€20,000 / $22,000–$25,000). The moon was a popular motif in 19th-century popular culture, inspiring oeuvres as diverse as musical theater, advertising for Brooke’s Soap and an iconic silent movie by Georges Méliès. Here Pierrot is depicted sitting on the tip of a personified crescent moon, whom he serenades to her amusement with his mandolin.
Another automaton from the realms of the imagination is Jean Roullet’s “Monkey Pâtissier” with his kitten pie, a mechanical play on the French nursery rhyme of La Mère Michel. The automaton comes with significant provenance from the maker’s family (estimate €8,000–€12,000 / $10,000–$15,000.
Other star performers from the world of mechanical music include a diminutive gold musical snuff box by Piquet et Capt (estimate: €6,000–€8,000 / $7,450–$9,900) and a fine silver-gilt snuff box with movement by F. Nicole (estimate: €2,500–€3,500 / $3,100–$4,350). Entertainment on a larger and grander scale is provided by a book-playing Libellion musical box (estimate: €7,000–€9,000 / $8,700–$11,150) and a magnificent Symphonion “Non Plus Ultra” disc-changer (estimate: €55,000–€80,000 / $64,000–$93,500).
A Nicole Frères grand format “variations” musical box with spirited renditions of Rossini’s William Tell overture and Händel’s Hailstone Chorus completes the lineup (estimate: €12,000–€18,000 / $14,900–$22,300).