Tomorrow (September 29), Christie’s will sell a particularly important piece of history: a World War II Enigma encoder. This special encoding device was used during the war by Nazis to encode the messages that they sent to certain key people.
This was the most advanced electro-mechanical encoding machine of its time. It could transform plaintext messages into a puzzling ciphertext, by using special rotors. According to Christie’s specialist James Hyslop, it’s a rare thing for such a device to come up for sale. Even though it is believed that many Enigma encoders were made during the war, only very few survived until today.
Even though it was a highly advanced device, the code that it used was eventually cracked at Bletchley Park Complex, thus shortening the was with approximately two years, as some specialists estimate. This particular unit was made in 1944, with four code rotors. It comes in a wooden box, accompanied by a smaller case with five more interchangeable spare rotors.
The record price for an Enigma encoder was set last year in November, when someone paid $106,000 for the device. This time we expect bidders to be even more generous than that.