Unmodified Enigma machine sells for £85k

The machine, an example of the tools used by the Nazis to encrypt and decrypt messages during the Second World War, has sold at auction in London for well over the estimate price.
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

One of the remaining Enigma machines, used by the Nazis to encypt and decrypt messages during World War II, has sold at auction for £85,250.

Image: Bonhams

The machine is in working order, unrestored, and has not had any parts swapped out, as often happened after the victorious Allies took the devices home as souvenirs, auctioners Bonhams said in a statement. It had been in use by the German military between 1938 and 1944.

The three-rotor model was sold by Bonhams on Wednesday afternoon, with the unnamed seller being from Europe and the buyer — whose successful bid was placed over the internet — from the US.

The guide price had been £40k to £60k, so the Helmsoeth and Rinke-built Enigma machine went for more than was expected. However, another Enigma machine sold last year for £131,180.

The British built an electromechanical Bombe machine to crack Enigma's codes, a project in which computing pioneer Alan Turing was a key player. This year is Turing's centenary.

German Enigma machines are very rare, according to Bonhams. At the same auction on Wednesday, a Typex mark IV, a British-built version of the Enigma used by the Navy and RAF to decrypt German messages on the spot, was snapped up by a bidder for £13,750.

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