back to article €100 'typewriter' turns out to be €45,000 Enigma machine

A cryptography professor wandering through a Romanian flea market has turned a nice ROI on his €100 investment: €45,000. That's because what was on offer was a 1941-manufacture German Army three-rotor Enigma I. The unnamed collector who picked it up sold it through Bucharest auction house Artmark, and the unit beat its €9,000 …

Anonymous Coward

There is quite a bit of that floating around Eastern Europe

I wish I could find where gramps hid the MG 42 machine gun from the Gestapo BMW R75 which broke down when the came looking for him and ended up stranded in front of his GP practice. The legend is that a pot of sugar from the cafana across the road ended up in the fuel tank while the Fritz was turning the house upside down. The local police tasked with "guarding it" heard no evil, saw no evil. They Germans never came back to pick it up as the country turned sides and they hastily had to bugger out.

It was repaired, the machine gun removed. Gramps hid it somewhere and nobody knows where it is.

After that he used the R75 as his runabout for the next 30 years until my stupid cousin destroyed it by losing control on it and careering off the road. So while I cannot get my mitts of the R75, the gun is still somewhere out there. Probably in a concealed cavity in the old house somewhere (knowing gramps it is wrapped in oiled rags so it does not rust).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: There is quite a bit of that floating around Eastern Europe

Careful with those Eastern European flea markets, you could be picking up a Cobalt60 cannister or similar, worth having a Geiger counter handy just in case.

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Re: There is quite a bit of that floating around Eastern Europe

I was in a wine cellar in Austria about 20 years ago. The owner's grandparents had sealed off one end of the cellar at the outbreak of war. Nobody knows what's in there and nobody was planning to open it.

I couldn't have lasted a week without drilling a hole and taking a look.

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Pint

Re: There is quite a bit of that floating around Eastern Europe

Shame, they're nice bikes - I've got a 1973 R75/5. Remarkably long-lived model, too, available in very similar forms from 1936 all the way into the '90s.

GJC

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Re: There is quite a bit of that floating around Eastern Europe

"bugger out" - like it. I think I'll add that to my vocab.

Reminds me of an Eastern European friend of mine, trying to impress upon me that he knew more than I gave him credit for. "You think I know fuck nothing, but I tell you I know fuck *all*". Legend.

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Re: There is quite a bit of that floating around Eastern Europe

Michael Curtiz directing The Charge of the Light Brigade .. also famous for the 'poodles of vater' quote during the filming of Casablanca

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Coffee/keyboard

Re: "fuck nothing / fuck all"

As a Yank who gets most Brit slang but must occasionally consult my Scottish sister-in-law on a few of the odder ones, that nearly made me shoot coffee out my nose. I must remember to apply the "no coffee while reading BOFH and comments" to ALL comment threads herein.

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Thumb Up

Re: There is quite a bit of that floating around Eastern Europe

"You think I know fuck nothing, but I tell you I know fuck *all*"

THANK YOU for the priceless addition to my repertoire of self-mocking retorts! That's awesome!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: There is quite a bit of that floating around Eastern Europe

I remember my friend in France. While digging out the garden to extend the house, he came across a stash of WWII howitzer shells, 105mm and 150mm. On the rear was stamped "1939" along with the Nazi Swastika and crest (looked like this, but in black ink: http://p2.la-img.com/368/37062/15564728_1_l.jpg ), still relatively fresh and rust free.

Talk about holding a piece of history in your hands.

I joked he just needed to find the artillery piece to go with the shells, but he smiled and said he knew a guy with a leFH 18 in their wine cellar. Still am not sure if he was pulling my leg or not.

Funny to think that Europe is considered to be very much a "gun free" zone, whereas in actuality the place is swimming in weapons, some of which would make the Americans jealous. Especially in eastern europe, where combination of Nazis, the resistance, the cold-war USSR and NATO paranoia resulted in massive caches of all sorts of hardware being buried in random places in case of invasion by all sides involved.

Not to mention citizens who got a hold of weapons during the wars and stashed them away in their houses in case of future conflicts, or are buried in specific locations, kept secret and passed down the generations "just in case"

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Anonymous Coward

Re: There is quite a bit of that floating around Eastern Europe

Not only Eastern Europe: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Gladio

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Re: There is quite a bit of that floating around Eastern Europe

"You think I know fuck nothing, but I tell you I know fuck *all*"

That exact line appeared in the 1999 Australian movie "The Wog Boy".

Another ripper from that movie was: "I'm half-Serbian, half-Croatian. I wake up in morning, I want to kill myself!"

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Re: There is quite a bit of that floating around Eastern Europe

[i]I couldn't have lasted a week without drilling a hole and taking a look.[/i]

Umm yeah the owner's not telling you what his grandparents told him about the 2 nazis he stuffed in there

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Anonymous Coward

Re: There is quite a bit of that floating around Eastern Europe

> Funny to think that Europe is considered to be very much a "gun free" zone

By whom? It's just not something that we need to make a huge fuss about, but for most of Europe legal access to firearms is quite uncomplicated (not in the UK outside NI).

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Re: There is quite a bit of that floating around Eastern Europe

The usual ignorance-driven simplistic comments for parts of the world we don't really know much about.

I've been to many a flea-market here in Romania where I live for the last 12 years and I can assure you all the porcelain is Becquerel free :-}

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Anonymous Coward

Re: There is quite a bit of that floating around Eastern Europe

>I've been to many a flea-market here in Romania where I live for the last 12 years and I can assure you all the porcelain is Becquerel free :-}

Sure the porcelain didn't come from Pripyat or surrounding districts ?

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Windows

Re: There is quite a bit of that floating around Eastern Europe

Bit like my Dutch friend, proud of his English skills, 35 years ago after an argument calling me a "Bunch of shit".

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Re: There is quite a bit of that floating around Eastern Europe

Especially in eastern europe, where combination of Nazis, the resistance, the cold-war USSR and NATO paranoia resulted in massive caches of all sorts of hardware being buried in random places in case of invasion by all sides involved.

Not to mention citizens who got a hold of weapons during the wars and stashed them away in their houses in case of future conflicts, or are buried in specific locations, kept secret and passed down the generations "just in case"

Let us not forget the origins of Heckler and Koch - three engineers from the Mauser factory in Oberndorf salvaged various machinery and tools (lathes, mills and perhaps most importantly, deep-boring gear required for barrel manufacture). Hid it in a hay shed for a few years whilst France was busy stripping the place and dismantling the factory, before starting up as a generic engineering firm and eventually moving back into firearms.

Lots of stuff "made to disappear" by locals ahead of seizures by either the Allied or Soviet occupying forces.

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Re: There is quite a bit of that floating around Eastern Europe

Apparently the science fiction fans made a number printing presses "disappear" during the crackdown following the rise of Solidarity. Fan publishing really took off...

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Re: There is quite a bit of that floating around Eastern Europe

@Dr Who

So, your friend was Peter Lorre then! Except, in the original movie all those decades ago he said 'damn'!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: There is quite a bit of that floating around Eastern Europe

> calling me a "Bunch of shit".

Sounds quite offensive actually. Especially with a Dutch accent.

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Boffin

Re: There is quite a bit of that floating around Eastern Europe

Seems your friend pinched the quote from Hungarian Michael Curtiz, director of Casablanca, on the set of Romance on the High Seas.

...[berating David Niven during an on-set argument] You think you know fuck everything and I know fuck nothing. Well, let me tell you, I know fuck all!!

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Reason for sale

"I'm getting rid of it because all the keys are messed up. Every time I type something it shows complete gibberish!"

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Re: Reason for sale

"I'm getting rid of it because all the keys are messed up. Every time I type something it shows complete gibberish!"

"All wiyht. Rho sritched mg kegtops awound?"

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Reason for sale

"All wiyht. Rho sritched mg kegtops awound?"

How did you get your keyboard to sound like a Dick van Dyke cockney impression?

Mewrry Pawppens!

Chem cheminoy chem cheminoy chim cham cheroo. Im not weally fwom lahndan but Wawt Disnay aint too.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Reason for sale

> How did you get your keyboard to sound like a Dick van Dyke cockney impression?

The poor bastard. Fifty years latter people are still taking the piss (it was an awful impression, mind).

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Re: Reason for sale

and not only that but it never prints the same letter twice

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Anonymous Coward

Reason for Sale

This did not help my dyslexia at all..

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Re: Reason for Sale

Or maybe it did?

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J P
Black Helicopters

Is there any particular reason why this has been filed under "Personal Tech"? I'd have thought perhaps "Security" would be more appropriate, but maybe the staff at ElReg have one of these each for personal use..?

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Coat

The excuse note I typed on it came out all weird

THYGP XYWLK GHRNI QOPIY COVFE FETRU MPXPI

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Re: The excuse note I typed on it came out all weird

THYGP XYWLK GHRNI QOPIY COVFE FETRU MPXPI

At least that's one mystery solved.

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Re: The excuse note I typed on it came out all weird

Kind of reminds me of a Microsoft license key...

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Coat

Re: The excuse note I typed on it came out all weird

"a Microsoft license key..."

It got me wondering where I'd left my elder sign medallion.

Hmm... now that I think about it, perhaps there was something more behind the "dance monkey boy" video from that old Microsoft developer conference...

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn

Mine is the mysterious looking set of robes, and please don't forget the wizard's hat!

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Alert

Re: The excuse note I typed on it came out all weird

Aha! That explains the flood of ten quid keys on eBay.

ISTR that someone built a Colossus replica....

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Just in time

to make a come back to defeat soon to be mandated vpn back doors....

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Anonymous Coward

I dream of this...

I am sure I am not unusual in this, but in my every visit to a flea market or second hand book store I secretly hope to stumble upon some unrecognized first edition (in my daydreams its a first edition of The Hobbit) or some nazi memorabilia. I visit toy shops in small towns hoping they have an unsold Ultimate Millennium Falcon ("Thats been sitting there for years, no one wants to buy it, its too expensive. I can give you half off if you like...")

My hands would have been trembling as I paid them $100 for that 'typewriter'. I'm not sure I would have sold it either - I'm not that type. I think it would be my prize conversation piece on a shelf at home....

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Re: I dream of this...

Problem is, people have the internet these days. That old vase that in the old days would of sold for a fiver. These days a quick search and you suddenly find it's a Clarice Cliff.

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Re: I dream of this...

"Problem is, people have the internet these days"

Don't be too sure. A little while ago Bargain Hunt picked up a silver item inscribed as a gift to William Crookes. Nobody seemed to have picked up on the fact that that was a rather significant name - where would all those telly people be without Sir William Crookes' discovery of cathode rays?

Was the dedicatee really that Sir William? A quick look at wonkypedia would have confirmed the date. A little further research would have revealed that the donors names and initials corresponded with another FRS, Augustus Desiré Waller and Alice Mary Waller, both physiologists at a time when women in science were still rare. I'd have loved to have been at the auction when that came up.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I dream of this...

What a weird dream you have and thats coming from a guy thats seen things you wouldn't believe.

I dream of electric sheep. Mind you I am an android (as in skinjob, not phone. Man it was easier being an android in the 80s).

*gets coat*

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Meanwhile some beautiful old typewriters are worth nothing. £100 is steep. My Imperial is worth about that, but my Royal Barlock maybe worth more. I'm picking up an IBM golfball at the weekend.

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Coat

I'm picking up an IBM golfball at the weekend.

That must be quite rare nowadays, IBM execs can't afford to play golf anymore...

:)

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No, they just land their helicopters on golf courses these days.

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Anonymous Coward

IBM Execs

Not user about IBM execs not being able to play golf.. I am currently in Rochester and the gulf club seemed to be full of fat cats..

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Anonymous Coward

Ethics failure?

Hmm...

I'd have thought a Professor of Cryptography would have the decency to at least go 50-50 with the original owner. He could have just said "leave my your email address" and paid.

Guess the world doesn't work like that...

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Re: Ethics failure?

€100 seems steep for an old typewriter. Perhaps the seller was already making a huge profit already.

I remember reading (years ago) about a woman who sold her house to a bloke for double what she thought it was worth. She was very happy, even when, hours later, he sold it for double again to a supermarket who needed the land for their development.

Of course he knew about the supermarket's plans, but I suspect was able to gauge how much they were willing to spend.

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Re: Ethics failure?

Who says that the original seller didn't laugh to themselves when selling a "broken typewriter" for EUR100 and think "Sucker!!!" There is no ethics fail here in my view, just other people suffering from good old begrudgery.

Obviously it is a different story if people go doorknocking old grannies and con them into selling the family jewels for a fiver.

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Re: Ethics failure?

Original owner? You mean the German army?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Ethics failure?

So anyone who makes a profit on something is ethically obligated to share the proceeds with the previous owner? What planet are you from?

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Coat

€100 seems steep for an old typewriter

Compare that to $ 50,000 for a measly Apple I.

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Re: €100 seems steep for an old typewriter

--- $ 50,000 for a measly Apple I. ---

Quite possibly the worst investment decision I ever made was to turn down the opportunity to buy an Apple I for $75 (or all three the seller had for $200). I occasionally comfort myself with the thought that it's a tossup for bigger fool between me and him, as I believe he sold all three eventually at about that price.

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