Antique typewriters an old racing bikie's passion

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 20th November, 2013

Emeric Somlo’s collection of antique typewriters, sewing machines, telephones, irons, lamps and radios is one of the most unusual, rarest and best ever seen in Australia.

A native of the western Romanian village of Dolat near Timisoara, Emeric was born in 1923 and died in May last year.

During World War II, he served in both the German and Russian armies and after the war took up motorbike racing in both speedway and motorcross events in the eastern bloc countries.

His favourite motorcycle was the English Norton Minx and so successful did Emeric become that Norton contacted him and offered to supply any parts he might need to continue on his winning way.

Needless to say, Emeric and his fellow riders were treated like royalty and were hosted at many society events in the communist countries.

In 1965, he migrated to Australia and concentrated on his other passion – collecting antique typewriters.

Many of the examples featured in Young’s catalogue for the Friday November 29 from 9.30am auction at 229 Camberwelll Road, East Hawthorn (which the company is selling on behalf of Emeric’s family) were impossible to obtain in Australia – and his overseas holidays were always great buying opportunities.

Some of the typewriters, such as the Merritt, are all time classics. Made in New York in 1890, unlike the modern “qwerty” keyboard it is of linear index design with upstroke.

Other unusual designs in the collection are the Odell, manufactured in 1891 in Chicago, the American Typewriter Co Model 2 in 1893 and the World typewriter by Pope Manufacturing in 1895.

Eventually, when he had collected more than 100, these rare typewriters became too hard to find and Emeric branched out into the associated field rare sewing machines – encouraged heavily by his wife.

The sewing machine collection includes a rare English Moldacot (complete with its original red tin box), considered worldwide as the pinnacle for collectors.

He also collected old telephones, irons, oil and kerosene lamps, radios, gramophones and crystal sets.

Included is a candlestick telephone, antique gas iron, gas-powered Dietz motor car lamps and a Rexonola gramophone oak case furniture piece in working order.

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