There’s no knowing what a good spring clean could unearth… we asked international auction house, Bonhams, to help us find out.
As spring cleaning season begins this year, many of us will find ourselves re-evaluating the items we own; deciding which to keep for the year ahead and which we can do without. After all, we know that a tidy and organized home leads to a sense of calm and wellbeing.
To help make sure you don’t accidentally throw out something super valuable, we asked Bonhams, the international auction house, to list the top ten technology treasures that you should definitely hang onto.
See what they suggested below – and if one of these belongs to you and you want to find out what it’s worth, click here to get in touch with Bonhams to find out!
- Lunar Globe, by Denoyer-Geppert
1969-1972. 200 first editions of the 16-inch Denoyer-Geppert Lunar Globe (a mounted globe of the moon) were produced to commemorate the Apollo 10 mission. Later models can be found up to Apollo 16. A number of other companies produced Lunar globes and some of those from this era could hold value, but only Denoyer-Geppert was contracted directly by NASA. This lends them much credence and makes them the most valuable globes of their kind.
At a 2015 auction by Bonhams, a Denoyer-Geppert Lunar Globe was sold for $4,250.
- Civil War-Era Telegraph Key
1860-1870. After Morse’s successful 1844 demonstration of sending the MORSE code with a key called the “Correspondent”, numerous manufacturers began producing apparatus to take advantage of this new technology. By the 1860’s Civil War, several kinds of telegraph keys were in use. Commonly referred to as “leg-keys”, these sat on the telegraph operator’s table, with legs containing telegraph wires extending through the table. This innovation was an important step in the technological road to computing. The invention of the telegraph allowed people to manipulate electrical impulses and translate them to language by the use of a code. It is a crude ancestor to the coding of today.
In a forthcoming auction at Bonhams, an 1860 Civil War Era Telegraph Key will be listed at $1,000 – $1,500.
- RCA TRK-12
1939. Mirror-lid televisions from the 1930s are amongst the world’s rarest and oldest TV sets. Many Americans had their first-ever look at a television during the 1939 World’s Fair in New York, where RCA had a number of TRK-12 televisions on display in their large exhibition. About 1,600 units were produced, the most of any pre-war television.
While the TRK-12 is likely to be hiding in homes across the USA, much rarer – but more valuable – are the 1930s and 1940s televisions by the John Logie Baird Ltd. company. These include the Baird Ltd. ‘Lyric’ television and wireless console; and the Baird Ltd. mirror-lid television, wireless record-player and cellarette grand cabinet console.
At a 2009 auction by Bonhams, a 1939 RCA TRK-12 was sold for $5,900.
- Kenbak-1 Computer
1971-74. Considered by many experts to be the world’s first personal computer. Only 50 were ever built, some as prototypes and some for sale, and only 14 are believed to still exist worldwide today.
At a 2015 auction by Bonhams, a Kenbak-1 was sold for $31,250.
- Enigma Machines
1920s-1940s. Enigma machines were produced, with increasing levels of complexity, from the 1920s until the early-1940s. Despite both German and British orders to destroy Enigma machines towards the end of WW2, a number were recovered from Germany and other countries that had been under Nazi control, turning into souvenirs brought to the US by returning GIs.
At a 2016 auction by Bonhams, a 1943 M4 4-rotor Enigma machine was sold for $463,500.
- Apple I Computer
1976. Designed and-built by Steve Wozniak in 1976, and sold by Wozniak and Steve Jobs for $666.66 each, the Apple I was Apple’s first-ever product. Only 66 authentic Apple I computers are known to still exist.
At a 2014 auction by Bonhams, an Apple I computer motherboard was sold for $905,000.
- Apple II Computer
1977-1981. This was the first computer in the Apple II series, and the direct successor to the Apple I. About 40,000 were sold worldwide. It was eventually superseded by other Apple II series models, and ultimately by the Apple Macintosh. The most valuable is the Rev 0 motherboard model.
At a 2011 auction on eBay, a 1977 Apple II was sold for $6,100.
- Anything relating to Richard Feynman (e.g. signed copy of “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman”, by Richard Feynman)
Released in 1985, “Surely, You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman” is the autobiography of Manhattan Project physicist Richard Feynman (1918-1988). When Feynman agreed to write his memoirs, he told his publisher, “I’m not going to go on TV, and I’m not going to sign any books,” so a signed copy of the book is rare and therefore valuable. Similarly, even notes taken by students during his lectures at Cornell University and the California Institute of Technology are considered to hold value.
At a 2014 auction by Bonhams, a unique cassette tape-recording of an interview with Richard Feynman and a signed copy of “Surely, You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman” were sold for $37,500.
- Zenith “Companion” Portable Radio
The Zenith ”Companion” is widely regarded as the world’s first true portable radio. While only 1,000 were manufactured (with 600 returned to the factory as “unsatisfactory”), collectors believe they may have been better preserved than later models because of their high initial price.
At a 2014 auction on eBay, a 1924 Zenith “Companion” Portable Radio was sold for $12,000.
- Snow White PlayStation 2
2001. The all-white ‘Snow White’ version of the PlayStation 2, and its matching controller, can often be mistaken for the standard white, classic PS2, because the two are identical except for a glossy “automotive” (also known as “ceramic”) pure white paint scheme. Only 666 units of this console were made for each region, and are often overlooked by owners due to similarities with the standard white PS2.
At a 2016 auction by Catawiki, a Snow White PlayStation 2 was listed at $780 – $1180.