Auction News

Legendary typewriter collection used by literary giants offered at auction


Ernest Hemmingway writing at a typewriter.

A one-of-a-kind collection of typewriters used by some of the 20th century’s most iconic authors will headline a December 15 auction.

Collector Steve Soboroff amassed the 33 typewriters over 20 years. Each belonged to a famous writer or cultural figure who had graced the cover of Time magazine with just one exception, an 1887 Crandall New Model, included for its significance as a machine.

a typewriter owned by Shirley Temple is for sale.

Shirley Temple’s Underwood, presented to “America’s Pet”.

The authors represented is a who’s who of 20th century fiction and journalism.

Online bidding on the sale has begun.

Literary milestones

For sale are Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 Underwood Standard from his Cuban estate, Finca Vigía (current bid $20,000); Jack London’s uniquely designed 1902 Bar-Lock (current bid $5,000); Shirley Temple’s charming 1936 Underwood portable from her Hollywood heyday (current bid $525); and Hugh Hefner’s 1962 Royal Empress seen in the legendary photo of Hef reclining in silk pyjamas whilst surrounded by Playboy ephemera (starting bid $2,000).

The collection has been exhibited in institutions across America and dubbed “The World’s Greatest Typewriter Collection” by media outlets. All pieces have ironclad provenance, with Soboroff thoroughly verifying authenticity – he found Hemingway photo negatives tucked inside the Underwood after purchasing it.

After 20 years of stewardship Soboroff decided auctioning the collection was the best choice to ensure its legacy.

“I believe these typewriters belong to the world,” he said. A portion of proceeds will fund university journalism scholarships in memory of Soboroff’s favourite sportswriter, Los Angeles Times columnist Jim Murray, the impetus for his typewriter obsession.

For lovers of literature and writing culture, the December 15 auction presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Soboroff describes them as “like Picasso’s paintbrushes”.

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