Antique Espresso Machines
Antique espresso machines are espresso machines that were manufactured from 1884 to the early-1970s. An espresso machine is used to produce an espresso, a traditional Italian coffee beverage.
Brief history and description
The first espresso machine was manufactured in the early-1880s by Angelo Moriondo of Turin, Italy and was demonstrated in 1884 at the Turin General Exposition. Up until the turn of the twentieth century the design and mechanism of the espresso machine was consistently improved, most notably by Luigi Bezzera of Milan. Bezzera was neither an engineer, nor a barista – a professional operator of coffee machines – but a mechanic and at the end of 1901 he patented a number of improvements for the espresso machine. These patents were bought by Daesiderio Pavoni in 1905 and the company “La Pavoni” begun manufacturing espresso machines commercially (one a day) in Milan.
Over the next few decades various other espresso machine companies formed in Milan and the market was highly competitive. Each company tried to produce espresso machines that not only displayed the most sophisticated machinery, but were also the most aesthetically elegant and stylish. The period from 1950 to 1965 is commonly known as the Golden Age of Milan espresso machine production.
Guide to collectors
Collecting antique espresso machines is a niche collectibles market and is highly competitive. Enthusiasts who collect antique espresso machines are often referred to as espresso-philes and do so because of the machines' sublime design qualities and also to own a part of the history of coffee-making.
Examples that were produced in Milan during the Golden age of espresso machine making are the most sought after by collectors as this encompassed the time of most artistic and technical development. The design of these espresso machines was extremely elegant, yet simple and effective and can still look perfect in any contemporary kitchen.
Rare espresso machine models are very desirable to collectors. The “Venere” model, made by Faema in 1962, is one the rarest production espresso machines and it is thought that only five are left in the world.
Models made by Bruni Brunella are also highly sought after by collectors and, according to Sorrentinacoffee.com, can cost up to $800. La San Marco’s 1950 “Lollobrigida” is a classic espresso machine and is pursued due to its curvaceous and unique design.
Gaggia is arguably the most desired espresso machine maker and have produced a number of rare and unique models, including the 1961 "Ponte Veccio" 1955 and the 1961 “Internazionale” of which only ten exist in the world.
Antique espresso machines are sometimes sold at Christie’s, but collectors are more likely to find rare models at specialist antique coffee-maker dealers and online bidding sites, such as eBay. Sorrentinacoffee.com offers a good selection of rare espresso machines with valuable information.
In October 1999, a “Diamente” espresso machine, designed by the famous Italian artist and designer, Bruno Munari, and manufactured by La Pavoni in 1956, was sold through Christie’s, London, for a realised price of £1,150.
In January 2012, a Gaggia “1 Gu” espresso machine, produced in the 1960s, was sold on eBay for $499.