Early Writing Ball typewriter valued at $98,000

This ultra-rare nickel plated deluxe Malling-Hansen Writing Ball (1867) is among the most sought-after typewriters in the world.

In 1870 it became the first typewriter to enter commercial production.

This is an early, pre-production specimen.

Writing Ball Brekker

The Writing Ball was designed to help deaf-mutes

It’s valued at $76,303-98,104 ahead of a May 20 sale at Auction Team Brekker in Koln, Germany.

Inventor Rasmus Malling-Hansen chaired an institution for deaf-mutes in Denmark.

He came up with the Writing Ball as an aid to communication. The unusual placement of the keys was designed to allow for the fastest possible typing speed.  

One of the invention’s biggest early adopters was German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who was struggling to write due to his failing eyesight.  

He records the delivery of the typewriter in an uncharacteristically cheery letter to his sister in 1882: "Hurrah! The machine has arrived at my house!"

However, his excitement was short-lived as he found it mind-bendingly complicated to operate.

His frustration led him to compose the following poem: "The writing ball is a thing like me:/ Made of iron yet easily twisted on journeys/Patience and tact are required in abundance/As well as fine fingers to use us".

Nietzsche seemed to be more or less alone in his struggles. Some have suggested his may have been damaged in transit.

While the Writing Ball was popular, it was handmade to order.

When the mass produced Remington No.1 arrived in 1873, it swiftly became the market leader.

That means very few Writing Balls exist in good condition today.

One sold for $121,000 a few years ago, setting a record for any typewriter at auction.

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