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Monday 18 November 2013

Very Rare Typewriters for Auction in Australia

Some very rare typewriters are coming up for auction in Melbourne, Australia, on Friday week, November 29.
What appears to be the remains of the Emeric Somlo Collection is being auctioned by Young's Auctions of 229 Camberwell Road, Hawthorn.
Auctioneer David Young let me know this morning about what is for Australia a most unusual event. Sewing machines from the collection are also being auctioned.
The catalogue has 200 lots and there are about 90 typewriters in it. You can download a PDF of the catalogue (6MB) from Young's home page here. Be wary of the price estimates, which in many cases seem quite bizarre (for example, a comparatively common Imperial B at the same price as a Pittsburg or a Postal! In this country? I don't think so.).
The online catalogue that has additional photos is here. It would appear many other very rare typewriters, including a Lambert, Pullman, Williams and Geniatus (perhaps from the same collection?) went up for auction last July 12.

Emeric Somlo was born in the western Romanian village of Dolat, near Timisoara,  in 1923. He died in Melbourne on May 23 last year. After serving in both the German and Russian armies during World War II, he raced motorbikes in both speedway and motocross in Eastern Bloc countries. He migrated to Australia in 1965. One biographer, Rob Blackbourn, wrote, "Ultimately it was head injuries received in a race crash that ended his racing career and enabled him to get permission to leave for the West to get specialist medical treatment before migrating to Australia. Here Emeric worked as an expert locksmith who had keys and combinations to safes containing much private and corporate treasure; he could be seen daily doing his work rounds in Melbourne on an ES2 Norton. As well as keeping a few bikes in his shed, Emeric became a collector of old gramophones, radios, tools and the like. Buying trips were always undertaken on his bike of the day, often with [wife] Elaine perched behind him to keep him company. Her account of one such trip to Tasmania had me cracking up. With the buying done and with it being time to point the heavily-laden bike toward the ferry, everything was strapped on except a huge typewriter. Elaine, the ever supportive companion, spent the trip home with her arms around her man, gripping him between her elbows while her hands firmly kept a firm hold on the typewriter perched on the fuel-tank. But finally, then in his mid-80s, Emeric reluctantly hung up his helmet and sold his last bike, the T500. He still has the typewriter, though … "


John said...

Emeric and I had been friends for over twenty years and I was at his house in Dandenong just the day before he died, talking to Elaine about the collection. We canvassed her various options such as Ebay and contacting various collectors world wide but I don't think Elaine owned a computer and now I guess, the auction was the best way to go.
Emeric was very proud of his collection and told me that he had a model of every Remington Standard that was made except the first one.He said he knew where there was one but he was able to persuade the owners to sell. It was at the Birdwood museum in SA and they would not part with it. I liked the story about the motorbike and Elaine on the back, this just so true, illustrating Emeric's collecting zeal and Elaine's support. Later Emeric used to go on his annual holidays in and old Volkswagon combivan around the country checking all sorts of collectable/antique shops in every small town that he came across. He was very proud of the Sterling that is shown above and also a Junior that he reckoned was very rare. He was in touch with collectors world wide and paid particular attention to Breckers AuctionsHaus, Koln.
He had many other interesting items in his house like a beautiful gramophone with a large wooden horn, and a nice collection of Toby Jugs.
He worked for the ABC in Lonsdale street, Melbourne, as a general fixer of everything. He had a mechanical workshop background and one of his greatest achievements was, he said,
when he repaired the Chinese typewriter in the Chinese language section at the ABC.
A great character with lots of funny stories and mischievous sense of humour.

Bill M said...

Amazing machines. I haven't seen many of those before.

TonysVision said...

The anecdotes, including the comments from John, are at least as interesting as the typewriters. Thanks for the link to the catalog. I'm proud to say that somehow in my early collecting zeal I was able to snag a Corona like the one shown in Mountain Ash Scarlet, except that mine has the ribbon covers. I love the bold lettering on the key tops. Very enjoyable post.

Robert Messenger said...

Tony, I have this one myself with the matching ribbon spool covers. I see from the catalogue they are expecting $200-$400 for this one. It doesn't look anywhere near as nice without the spools covers.