WWII German Enigma enciphering machine for auction at Bonhams

. November 4, 2012

This 1941 oak Enigma machine was an instrument used to pass coded German messages during the Second World War.

This German enigma enciphering machine will go under the hammer for the first time on the 14th November in Knightsbridge (estimated £40,000 – 60,000).

Built by Heimsoeth and Rinke in 1941, this is the 3 rotor version, used by Germany between 1938 and 1944. Patented by H. A. Koch, at the end of WWI, there was a recognized need for new technology with an imminent Second World War approaching. 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 were responsible for decoding the information communicated by this machine to gain a winning advantage over the Germans. The construction of the machine Colossus at Bletchley Park, thanks to the efforts of British Intelligence, meant the messages scrambled by the enigma machine could eventually be decoded in under twenty-four hours, leading the allies to an early victory.

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.”

Other notable pieces in the auction include a complete set of enigma rotors (estimated £6,000 – 8,000) and a fine veri-gold split seed-pearl, diamond and ruby embellished bird box (estimated £60,000 – 80,000).

Category: Antiques

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