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Bonhams auctions a rare German Enigma machine

Should fetch between £30,000 and £50,000
Mon Oct 14 2013, 15:35

AUCTION HOUSE Bonhams is lining up a rare German Enigma machine for an upcoming scientific instruments auction.

The German Enigma machine is a sibling of the Enigma encoding machines that can be found at the Bletchley Park cryptography cracking site in Milton Keynes.

Bonhams is sure of interest in the machine and is giving it a rather wide estimate of between £30,000 and £50,000.

Enigma machines rarely come up at auction, and this particular example is especially unique. "It's unusual because it has Bakelite thumbwheels instead of the more widely used metal ones. This was due to the diminishing availability of metal and other resources for the Wehrmacht towards the end of the war," said Jon Baddeley, Bonhams' expert in cameras, scientific instruments and mechanical music.

"It's also special because it's untouched and un-restored. Many machines were picked up by the allies as souvenirs during the final stages of World War II, and as such, their parts were mixed and matched. All of the elements of this one bear the same serial number, making it complete and original throughout."

Bonhams sold one of the German enciphering machines in November last year. It had a similar estimate, but took £85,250. Then, as now, it predicted a lot of interest.

This machine is the same kind, a rare three rotor German Enigma enciphering machine made by Heimsoeth & Rinke in 1944. It has the serial number 19088. Later models have five rotors.

The Enigma machine's code was broken by the boffins at Bletchley Park during World War II. µ


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