Thomas de Colmar Arithmometer realises $256,500 in Breker auction

An Arithmometer made by Thomas de Colmar has sold at the top of Auction Team Breker's Science & Technology, Fine Toys and Automata sale, held on November 16 in Germany.

Thomas de Colmar arthimometer
The Arithmometer was the first calculating machine that was hardy enough to withstand everyday office use, and became very popular

The richly decorated deluxe model of the early calculator sold for an impressive $256,403, 374.8% above the $54,000 high estimate.

The Arithmometer was the first mechanical calculator capable of everyday use in offices. Patented by Thomas de Colmar in 1820, it performs long multiplication and division, as well as addition and subtraction.

The example at auction is a special presentation model that was given to "Mademoiselle E Renaud" as a "Souvenir by the inventor". According to the auction house, Renaud was married to Louis Thomas, brother of Thomas de Colmar, and therefore this piece comes straight from the inventor's family.

Further highlights of the sale include a German Enigma cipher machine from 1944, which sold comfortably within estimate at $43,183. Complete with three rotors, corresponding serial numbers, 28 original flat lamps and with its original wooden case with a swastika symbol, it remains in working condition.

Another three-rotor Enigma machine sold for ?�60,000 ($96,240) at Bonhams in October.

Following was a "Kryha-Liliput" cipher machine, a watch-sized coding device made by Alexander von Kryha (1891-1955) in Berlin. It sold for $10,795.

Paul Fraser Collectibles has a signed Enigma machine postcard from Mavis Batey, a code breaker at Bletchley Park.

Following the auction, an Apple-1 computer sold for $330,000. According to the Daily Mail newspaper, the buyer was a young CEO of an American company, starting rumours that it may have been Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg.


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