Bid for Alice author’s typewriter

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MEMORIES of world famous children’s author Lewis Carroll will be evoked at Harborough’s Gildings sale room when one of his typewriters goes under the hammer.

The Hammond typewriter, acquired by Carroll in May 1888, is expected to fetch between £2,000-£3,000 at the auction at the Roman Way sale room on Tuesday, February 21.

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Carroll - real name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson - was the author of Alice in Wonderland (1865), as well as its follow-up six years later, Through the Looking Glass.

Not only a writer of children’s stories, he was also a lecturer of mathematics at Christ Church, Oxford, and wrote many other works including humorous verse, such as The Hunting of the Snarkand Sylvie and Bruno.

He also authored far more serious volumes, including Memoria Technica, Curiosa Mathematica, Principles of Parliamentary Representation and Symbolic Logic.

Information gleaned from the typewriter’s provenance suggests Carroll completed a mathematics treatise on it and also a small number of items of correspondence.

It is still in working order, in its original polished wood fitted case.

Inside the attractively shaped lid, at the top of the manufacturers instructions, in clear, spidery black ink handwriting, it is inscribed ‘Rev. C.L. Dodgson, Ch.Ch. Oxford’.

An entry in Carroll’s diary on May 4 even records the arrival of the typewriter, with the words: “Chandler came across to show me how to work the ‘Hammond Type-Writer’, which arrived yesterday”.

Mark Gilding said: “It is a very exciting item to be handling and we are pleased to be offering it for sale in our Fine Art and Antiques auction.

“I am sure that it will attract great interest through its association with such a well known Victorian gentleman who has achieved so much popularity over so long.

“To see his name and college handwritten in the lid is a fascinating personal link with him too.

“Also the typewriter itself is of tremendous appeal as it is so early when such office equipment was only really just being developed.

“These machines were made by James Hammond who became successful in the 1880s.

“The fact that it is in such fine condition and of such a great design, complete in its original box just adds to its interest to collectors from this country and further afield.

“My client has decided to offer the typewriter for sale in the hope that it will find a new home with a private collector or institution who will treasure this important object.

“Although it is difficult to assess how much this typewriter may realise in the current auction market, my pre-sale estimate is £2000-3000.”

Also for auction is an Isokon Long Chair, designed by Marcel Breuer for the Isokon company in 1935-36.

A Hungarian-born Jew, Breuer escaped Germany in the 1930s due to the rise of the Nazi party, moving to London and working at Isokon.

The plywood chair is considered one of the most important pieces of furniture to emerge from the inter-war modern movement.

This example was found in the home of one of Gildings’ customers in a pile destined to be burnt, but was rescued by John Gilding.

There will be viewing sessions ahead of the sale, including on the day itself.

For more information on the typewriter and on the sale, contact Mark Gilding by telephone on 01858 410414 or visit