Enigma machine fetches $101,450 in Cologne

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2015-06-26 10:56:36

Enigma machine fetches $101,450 in Cologne

13 Jun 2012, 09:48 GMT+01

One of the significant Enigma cipher machines of the Second World War was auctioned off in Cologne, at Auction Team Breker’s May 26th sale.

The Enigma machine was patented by Dr. Arthur Scherbius in the 1920s, and developed throughout the war to become more complicated and impenetrable. Using electro-mechanical rotors, the machines eventually possessed up to 22 billion possible cipher combinations, making the Enigma the most complex code generator ever invented.

The production of near-unbreakable code had a huge bearing on the war, though eventually the code was cracked at Bletchley Park, where brilliant mathematical minds were gathered for just this purpose. It is thought that the breaking of the Enigma code at Bletchley, a piece of history not revealed until the 1970s, was one of the most significant factors in the ending of the war.

This example from 1938 sold for $101,450, one of the highest prices paid for an Enigma machine at auction and more than 10 times its reserve.

Other lots sold in the Auction Team Breker Vintage Science, Technology and Toys sale included a fine selection of vintage delights and weird and wonderful antiques.

An 1882 Hammonia typewriter, the first commercially produced German typewriter, sold for $23,056. The first Russian Arithmometer, a mechanical calculator from 1886, sold for $8,450.

A 1920s automaton ‘The English Execution’ by Charles Ahrens, likely built as a seaside amusement and particularly gruesome a working model, sold for $9,222. A 16th century tower clock sold for $10,000, and a gold musical snuff box sold for $13,835.

50 lots of gramophones and phonographs saw rarities and oddities as well as classic models subject to fierce bidding. An Edison Opera phonograph sold for $10,000, and a rare Krebs & Klenk of Hanau model from the 1920s with audio-visual display, revolving lights and mirrors fetched $16,900. A German triple-horn gramophone, the three horns facing outwards above a wind-up box, sold for $6,150.

A 1947 Wurlitzer jukebox achieved $23,000, and the sale concluded with a vast model railway system by Josue Droz, sold for an impressive $49,200.

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