Auction Results

$200,000 Enigma Machine breaks estimate


the keyboard of a World War II Enigma Machine

A World War II Enigma Machine has sold for $214,000 at auction. The sale, on June 12, easily surpassed a $165,00 estimate.

Enigma Machines are Nazi in origin, but their collectiblity lies in their fallibility.

The breaking of the Enigma Codes (in large part at Bletchley Park in southern England) was one of the big successes of WWII.

As Germany believed the extremely complex coding machines remained secure they continued to use them after the Allies could read their messages.

This example was a very fine one.

It was a working three-rotor Engima I machine made by Heimsouth and Rinke in 1943 in Berlin.

Still in an original oak case with spare parts intact, the machine was in excellent condition.

The auction house said: “As a functional, war-dated example of the German military’s Enigma machine, this piece is truly a marvel of technological and WWII history.”

Marian Rejewski was a Polish code breaker whose work fed into the Ultra project in England.

The Enigma was traced back to WWII via provenance from a known collector.

Around 120 machines are thought to have survived.

Securing working examples was vital for the Allies.

Many continued in operation after WWII as the UK did not let even allies know it had broken the code. Most of these were destroyed when that news was finally released in the 1970s.

The machines are extremely desirable and this price confirms a strong market for them, and World War II memorabilia more broadly.

In 2019 a machine was sold for £630,000. This example is now one of the most valuable, comparing well with the 2020 sale of an example for $440,000 (£347,250).

This summer will see sales of items related to the 80th anniversary of D-Day and other landmark dates in WWII.

On June 29, a “first-wave” US flag flown at Omaha Beach is a star item in a collection carrying a $40,000 to $60,000 estimate that looks low.

Next summer, the 80th anniversary of the end of WWII is likely to see a similar rash of sales.

Just Collecting