Sunday 19 January 2020

Enigma machine for sale at auction

A rare Enigma machine is expected to fetch up to 80,000 pounds at auction
A rare Enigma machine is expected to fetch up to 80,000 pounds at auction

A rare German Enigma enciphering machine is to go under the hammer later this month.

Built by Heimsoeth and Rinke in 1941, the oak-encased machine that encrypted German codes during the Second World War is the three-rotor version, used between 1938 and 1944.

The estimate for the sale at Bonhams in Knightsbridge is £40,000-£60,000.

Patented by HA Koch at the end of the First World War, this particular device was intended for commercial purposes but by 1939 the majority of Enigma machines had been appropriated for German military use.

The construction of the world's first top secret computing machine Colossus at Bletchley Park near Milton Keynes during the war meant the messages scrambled by the Enigma machine could eventually be decoded in under 24 hours.

The fact that the British managed to crack Enigma is credited with shortening the war as the Allies were able to know what the Germans were doing.

Laurence Fisher, specialist head of mechanical music, technical apparatus and scientific instruments at Bonhams, said: "Enigma machines come up very rarely at auction. This particular example is in working order, completely untouched and un-restored.

"Many machines were picked up by the Allies as souvenirs during the final stages of the Second World War and as such, in later years, tended to be mixed and matched, where rotors, outer cases and head blocks were replaced with another machines' parts. This one has all elements bearing the same serial number, making this totally complete and original throughout."

Other notable pieces in the auction include a complete set of Enigma rotors, which are estimated to fetch up to £8,000.

The sale takes place on November 14.

PA Media

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