Sale 17BP02 | Lot 33


Catalogue: Rare Books, Autographs & Maps
THREE-ROTOR SERVICE ENIGMA MACHINE (ENIGMA I).  [Heismoeth and Rinke]: circa 1940.

Lot Details

Lot 33
THREE-ROTOR SERVICE ENIGMA MACHINE (ENIGMA I). [Heismoeth & Rinke]: 1940s. Three aluminum rotors with Bakelite thumbwheels,...
[Heismoeth & Rinke]: 1940s. Three aluminum rotors with Bakelite thumbwheels, each rotor engraved with 26 numerical settings representing letters (these three from the set of five likely to have been issued) numbered II, III, V respectively, each with the serial number A19348; the "B" reflector with the same serial number. Housed in the original oak case, a plaque with the number 14401 mounted by the handle; this number is also found on the metal floor of the machine under the rotors. The machine with a raised "QWERTZ" keyboard and lampboard with crackle black painted case, plugboard with thirteen patch cables (the fullest possible complement); battery compartment, power selector switch, latches, locking bolts etc. all apparently original. The carrying case 13 1/2 x 11 x 6 inches (34.5 x 28 x 16 cm) with leather handle. The machine is attached to the box with three (out of four) carriage bolts in the base. The wooden case lid and the rotors have the WaA (Waffenamt) stamp and the interior is fitted with spare bulbs, operating instructions, latches for a filter (not present) and one (of two) mounts for spare patch cables (no spare cables present). The case has two cracks in the lid and a repaired crack (with slight loss) at the rear, and as noted is lacking one of the four carriage bolts that lock the machine in place; the upper catch is detached from the case lid (with loss to the wood where the catch was mounted), though the catch itself is present. The lid lacks the two spare patch cables from the lid (and is missing one of the two patch cable mounts). The machine itself is in good mechanical condition, without any evident rusting or corrosion. It retains the complete electrical wiring. The detachable hinged rotor cover and the serial number plaque often found mounted below the keyboard are not present. The machine has been tested with a 4 volt power supply and is currently operational, having been successfully used to encode and then decode a message, but it is not guaranteed to be in complete working order.
Originally developed as a commercial cipher machine by the firm of Chiffriermaschinen AG under Arthur Scherbius, the firm's patents were purchased in 1933 by the German military, and the company was renamed Heismoeth & Rinke. The history of the military use of the machines begins with the 1926 Enigma D, the first of the Enigma series of cypher machines to have removable, interchangeable rotors. The first purely military unit, the Reichswehr D, utilized this chassis with the addition of a plugboard (the Steckerbrett), which in this version used single-ended plugs. It was this machine that led directly to the Enigma I (often refered to as the Ch.[iffriermaschinen] 11f, its factory designation), which adopted a double-ended plug. The series 1 three-rotor Enigma cipher machine was used by the Reichswehr, later the Wehrmacht, and the Luftwaffe. They remained in use in these branches of the German services throughout WWII. The German Navy introduced a further series of improvements, including the M4, a four-rotor machine.
Because of the vast number of possible preliminary settings (1.1 x 10 to the 23rd power, roughly equivalent to a 76-bit key, in digital terms), the cipher produced by the machine was formidably difficult to decrypt. The German High Command generally believed that communications encrypted using Enigma were completely secure. Polish cryptographers did achieve some considerable preliminary success in cryptanalysis, but when two additional wheels were added in 1938 (so that the machine operator would select three out of five), the additional combinatorial complications introduced prevented any further advance. In 1939, just before the German invasion of Poland, the Polish team handed over their research to the French and British. These resources were a considerable assistance to the cryptographers at Bletchley Park in the UK, and Alan Turing's electo-mechanical Bombe drew in part on the Polish Bomba engine, although it hugely exceeded it in complexity and sophistication.

C Property from a Private Minneapolis Collection

Estimate: $80,000 - $120,000
Sold for $75,000 (includes buyer's premium)

Additional Notes & Condition Report

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Estimate: $80,000 - $120,000
Sold for $75,000 (includes buyer's premium)

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Rare Books, Autographs & Maps

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