The First Art Newspaper on the Net Established in 1996 United States Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Extremely rare World War II German Enigma machine sells at Bonhams for over £80,000
This 1941 oak enigma machine was an instrument used to pass coded German messages during World War II. Photo: Bonhams.
LONDON.- This German Enigma enciphering machine sold yesterday at Bonhams in Knightsbridge for £85,250, above its initial pre-sale estimate of £40,000-£60,000.

Built by Heimsoeth and Rinke in 1941, this is the three rotor version, used by Germany between 1938 and 1944 and was patented by H. A. Koch. Whilst this particular device was intended for commercial purposes, by 1939 the majority of enigma machines had been appropriated for German military use. The secret operations at Bletchley Park helped to decode the information communicated by this machine to gain an eventual winning advantage over the Germans.

Laurence Fisher, Specialist Head of Mechanical Music, Technical Apparatus & Scientific Instruments commented: “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.”

The top lot for the auction was a 1799-1802 Charles X musical portrait box which sold for £181,250. It is constructed from gold, enamel and split-seed pearl and the portrait of Charles is exceptionally detailed making it a fine collector’s piece.



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