Schneier on Security
A blog covering security and security technology.
July 19, 2007
Enigma Machine for Sale on eBay
A World War II German Enigma machine (three-rotor version) is for sale on eBay right now. At this writing, there have been about 60 bids, and the current price is $20K. This is below the reserve price, which means that the machine won't sell until it reaches that (secret) price.
It's expensive, but probably worth it. The Enigma looks like it's in perfect condition -- the seller claims "full working condition with extra lamps" -- and includes the manual. All five rotors are included: three in the machine and the other two in a box. The three-rotor version is the most common, but it's still very rare.
Of course I'd like it for myself -- I have a three-rotor Enigma, but it's missing all its rotors and some of its lamps -- but not at that price.
And we can't see who's bidding, either. Recently eBay made a change in how it displays auction bids: it hides bidder identities when the auction price gets high. This is to combat "second chance fraud," where a fraudster contacts a buyer who lost an auction and offers him the same article at the slightly lower losing price, then disappears after receiving payment.
The auction closes in eight days. Good luck.
EDITED TO ADD (7/19): The listing as been pulled; eBay doesn't say why. The price was $25K after 64 bids when I last saw it; the price was still below the reserve.
EDITED TO ADD (7/20): It's been relisted. The seller says that the other auction was taking down because of a "problem with pictures" (odd, because the new pictures don't seem different), and that the reserve price of $28K was met. You can "buy it now" for $50K, or make your best offer. I'm really curious what the final price for this will be -- I don't think it's worth anywhere near $50K.
EDITED TO ADD (7/20): Sold for $30K. I don't know why the seller decided to use this alternate eBay system, instead of relisting it as an auction. My guess is that he could have gotten more than $30K if he let the auction run its course over the week.
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