14 Nov 2012
1941 Enigma machine used to send coded German messages in WWII sells at Knightsbridge
This German Enigma enciphering machine sold today 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.
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