ENIGMA MACHINE. A Rare Early 3-Rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machines (aka Heeres Enigma), Berlin, early 1930s.

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Lot 73
ENIGMA MACHINE.
A Rare Early 3-Rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machines (aka Heeres Enigma), Berlin, early 1930s.

Sold for US$ 209,000 inc. premium
ENIGMA MACHINE.
A Rare Early 3-Rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machines (aka Heeres Enigma), Berlin, early 1930s.

An early Enigma machine in working condition, serial number 1024, in original oak box with hinged front panel and leather handle, inner front panel with "ENIGMA" and "Klappe schliessen" stamps, rotors I, II, III and reflector with matching serial number A1024, standard QWERTY keyboard of 26 keys, white on black backgrounds, battery switch, ebonite Steckerbrett [plugboard] with 12 stecker cables (12 plugged into the Steckerbrett and 2 spares stored in the top lid of case), battery case with 2 packages of functioning spare light bulbs, upper lid with 10 bulbs, green glare filter, and replica "Zur Beachtung" sign. 13 1/4 x 11 x 6 1/2 inches. Split in oak at lid, glass on key "Q" cracked, internal wires in wiring maze replaced to avoid problems with deteriorating insulation.
WITH: A 1934/1936 German Ta.P. Baumuster T1 Telegraph key; 2 facsimile Enigma operating manuals; 1 copy of Dr. Tom Perera's book, Inside the Enigma; The Secrets of the ENIGMA Machine and other Historic Cipher Machines.

FULLY OPERATIONAL, EARLY ENIGMA MACHINE. The low serial number 1024 indicates that this machine was made in the early 1930s, making it among the very first Enigmas to be delivered to the German Military as they built up their armed forces in violation of the Versailles Treaty. A video of the machine operating can be viewed on our website at www.bonhams.com/video/19793/

Patented by Arthur Scherbius in 1918, the Enigma machine utilizes three interchangeable rotors which scramble plain-text messages and produce a cipher text message which is then sent, generally via Morse code, to a receiving party with an Enigma set up in the same configuration as the sending Enigma. All of the machines could use the interchangeable wheels from any enigma, so to find a matching set of wheels with the same serial number as the Enigma is quite rare. Though the German military was familiar with the Enigma, it was not adopted as their primary cipher device until 1926, when they discovered that all German naval coded messages had been intercepted and read by the British during the latter half of WWI.
It is unknown exactly how many enigma machines were made, but we know that few survived the war. Rather than have the machines fall into enemy hands, they were destroyed by the Germans upon retreat and documents pertaining to their manufacture were burned or in many cases simply lost. On top of this, Churchill ordered all Enigma machines to be destroyed at the end of the war, so few machines remain intact.

This example of the standard three rotor enigma machine "Modell 1" was used principally by the army (Wehrmacht), and was their favored enciphering device. British attempts to break the Enigma code were fruitless for years. The breakthrough eventually came after the creation of the famous British codebreaking center Bletchley Park. Using the technology transferred to them from the brilliant Polish codebreaking team, as well as documents supplied by the French Intelligence from a German spy, the great Alan Turing, along with Knox, Foss and many others were able to break the Enigma code, shortening the war by en estimated two years, and saving countless lives.
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ENIGMA MACHINE. A Rare Early 3-Rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machines (aka Heeres Enigma), Berlin, early 1930s.
ENIGMA MACHINE. A Rare Early 3-Rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machines (aka Heeres Enigma), Berlin, early 1930s.
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