It seems a remarkable coincidence that less than three days after an Imperial Model B was sold on Australian eBay for $1575 ($US1587 at today's exchange rates), I should spot the Imperial's forerunner, a Moya 1, listed in an online auction at an equally ridiculous price - except in this case, at what strikes me as a ridiculously low price.
The Moya 1 is for sale on New Zealand's Trade Me (listing #360450476, http://www.trademe.co.nz/Antiques-collectables/Other/auction-360450476.htm . And the seller's starting price (no bids had been made at the time of writing this) for a package of three typewriters - the Moya 1, a Corona 3 (which looks to be in reasonably good shape) and a Royal 10 (ditto)- is a mere $NS190. That's about $US140 at today's exchange rates.
The auction ends at 2.09pm NZ time on Thursday, March 17th. Yes, that's St Patrick's Day, and with the luck of the Irish someone might win this really rare old machine - the Moya 1, I mean - at a bargain price (the nameplate is an Irish green too!). The seller is based at Waimate near Timaru on New Zealand's South Island, just south of earhquake-hit Christchurch. Here is the Moya (which the seller calls a "hoya")- some restoration work could be involved:
Paul Robert at his Virtual Typewriter Museum says the Moya 1 went into production in 1902 in Leicester in the English North Midlands, where the company Hidalgo Moya established went on to make the Imperial. Paul says, "The Moya typewriter ... operated with a typesleeve similar to the Crandall [but] was not a very successful machine. Not too many were sold between 1902 and 1905, when the improved Moya Visible 2 appeared."
If not too many were sold, that means this one is truly a rarity. Paul goes on, "The typesleeve with six rows of characters was turned and shifted by an intricate system of gears and levers. Printing was done by the sleeve that moved forward on to the platen." I gather the photo of the Moya 1 on the VTM page is from Uwe Breker's collection. This is it:
Be warned, however. If you do decide to go for this item, bear in mind it is difficult and sometimes quite frustrating trying to transfer payment to sellers on NZ Trade Me, which does not use PayPal. And this process does add to the overal cost. But judging by answers to questions about the item, it would seem the buyer is willing to post - if he or she is prepared to post to Auckland, why not the US or Europe? The Q & A so far has run: Q -how much to ship to auckland bkscollectibles? A - I shouldnt think it would be over $20. If it is I will cover the difference; Q - would you do a buiy now for 150? A - Sorry not at this time as there seems to be a lot of interest in them. Cheers.
So there you have it. Seems to me a golden opportunity for anyone looking for an unusual piece of typewriter history. And, as they say in the classics, "Where there's a will, there's a way".