AS CLOTHES ARE SAID to make the man, so in the world of auctions and antiques, an exceptional housing or original box can sometimes influence the price of an item exponentially. Such was the case at Auction Team Breker’s marathon 900-lot last auction of “Antique Toys and Technology”, in which an example of the world’s first commercially made calculator, Thomas de Colmar’s Arithmomètre (lot 8), sold to a private French collector for Euro 233.600,- / US $313,000.
Not only is the Arithmomètre a milestone in its own right, but this 1835 example was housed in a luxuriously appointed ‘Boulle’ case engraved as a “Souvenir de l’Inventeur” to de Colmar’s sister-in-law, Emilie Charlotte Reynaud de Barbarin.
From calculators to computers, an historical 1976 Apple I – the first ready to use PC in the world to offer monitor and keyboard access – was bought for almost Euro 246.000,- / US $330,000 by another collector from overseas (lot 22). In addition to an original monitor, software and peripherals in near-mint condition, the motherboard also retained its original cardboard shipping box that had been signed and authenticated by Apple’s co-founder Steve Wozniak.
A contemporary photograph taken in the Jobs’ family home showed a pile of identical white boxes awaiting shipment to the company’s first customer, Californian electronics chain the “Byte Shop”.
Another landmark was the first officially named ‘Mac’ computer, a very rare surviving prototype of the unsuccessful “Twiggy Mac” series from 1983 (lot 19), which fetched Euro 30.750,- / US $41,200.