Monday, June 17, 2013

Ernest Hemingway's Typewriter Comes To Auction

by Stephen J. Gertz

One of the most important literary relics of the 20th century, Ernest Hemingway’s fully documented typewriter, on which he typed his last book, is being offered by auctioneer Profiles In History in its Rare Books & Manuscripts sale, Wednesday, July 10, 2013.  It is estimated to sell for $60,000 - $80,000.

The Halda Swedish-made typewriter is fully functional and comes with its original leatherette case exhibiting somewhat tattered transportation stickers from the American Export Line and the French Line. Both have crucial identification in an unknown hand, marked “E. Hemi...” on the American Export Line sticker, and “Hemingway” with destination of “Le Hav...” on the French Line sticker, each torn and scuffed from extensive travel. The typewriter was obtained from famed author A. E. Hotchner, Hemingway's close friend, who wrote the definitive biography, Papa Hemingway.

Hotchner obtained the typewriter from the heirs of well-known Hemingway friend Bill Davis, Teo and Nena Davis. Bill Davis maintained a house in Malaga, Spain where Hemingway lived in 1959. Author Hotchner indicated in a private interview that he was there with Hemingway in that year when he was typing portions of The Dangerous Summer, on this very typewriter during 1959-1960. During this period, Hemingway was working on the final draft of his Paris memoirs from the 1920s which would later become A Moveable Feast, so it is quite possible this typewriter was used in creating that work as well. The typewriter is accompanied by a signed letter of provenance from Nena Davis, who witnessed Hemingway using this typewriter while writing The Dangerous Summer, his non-fiction account of the rivalry between bullfighters Luis Miguel Dominguín and his brother-in-law, Antonio Ordóñez, during the "dangerous summer" of 1959.

This typewriter was last seen in the marketplace in 2009 when it was offered by John Reznikoff's University Archives for $100,000.

For perspective, in 2009 Christie’s-New York sold author Cormac McCarthy’s typewriter, used to compose his novels, for the extraordinary sum of $254,500. Had this Hemingway typewriter been used to write The Sun Also Rises its estimate would surely exceed that quarter million dollar price.

Below, Reznikoff talks about this typewriter and demonstrates its functionality.


Images courtesy of Profiles In History, with our thanks. 

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  1. Can I have it I never use it and keep as an unique thing

  2. If you let me have it I will share it with you both....... if you are good !

  3. Can I have it. I will donate it to the Smithsonian on the condition that they put it on display immediately and forever.

  4. May I ask what was the selling price? Thanks. You can reply to

  5. Wouldn't the point of having it be to use it and carry on his legacy by creating your own masterpieces?

    I would die if I had this.

    Probably hole away in my room away from everyone and smoke lots of weed, drink some drank and write for days.

  6. I would think one of the Hemingway Museums should have this, really. The one in Oak Park is almost across from his birth-home. Take a nice deduction for the donation.


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