1 Nov 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).
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and appraisal services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com