News | December 19, 2023

Ernest Hemingway’s Typewriter Sold For $162,500

Heritage Auctions

Hemingway's typewriter

Steve Soboroff’s remarkable collection of typewriters realized a total of $282,825 at the Heritage Auctions sale led by Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 Underwood Standard, the machine he used to write his letters from Finca Vigía, his estate near Havana.

Hugh Hefner’s 1962 Royal Empress, which the Playboy publisher is using in a famous photo where he’s clad in his pajamas while smoking his pipe, made $30,000, while noted typewriter enthusiast Tom Hanks’ 1963 Hermes 3000 was sold for $8,750.

Elsewhere in the auction, a signed Abraham Lincoln carte-de-visite went for $181,250. The portrait was taken by Alexander Gardner in Matthew Brady’s studio on February 24, 1861, the day after Lincoln arrived in Washington, D.C. for his first inauguration. This CDV is authenticated by Lincoln’s private secretary John Hay on the verso and is now Lincoln’s most valuable signed portrait ever sold at Heritage.

Lincoln’s signed appointment of William C.S. Smith as Collector of Internal Revenue for the Fifth Collection District of California was sold $52,500. The reason for the bidding war that accompanied the document was that its date, April 13, 1865, was Lincoln’s last full day alive. According to Smith’s note on the document, “The last official act of Mr. Lincoln was to affix his signature to this instrument at 3.30 P.M.”

Other highlights included: 

* Thomas Jefferson’s annotated copy of The Laws of the United States of America ($112,500) and a letter Jefferson wrote on February 10, 1800, during his vice presidency, to Richard Richardson, an overseer at Monticello ($62,500)

* the 1853 three-volume, first-edition, remainder-issued set of Herman Melville’s The Whale, better known as Moby-Dick. There were only 500 copies of this edition published in 1851, and when it didn’t initially sell well, it was repackaged and reissued two years later ($50,000)

* a first-issue, first-edition copy of Charles Dickens’ American Notes for General Circulation, published in 1842, particularly coveted by collectors as it was signed by Dickens and inscribed to historian William H. Prescott ($37,500)

* a signed and dated portrait of Albert Einstein, taken in 1921, the year Einstein received the Nobel Prize in Physics, and signed 24 years later ($27,500)