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Typewriter Sold at Flea Market Turns Out to Be Rare World War II Enigma Machine

An antique typewriter sold at a Romanian flea market for $114 turned out to be a rare piece of wartime history: a German Wehrmacht Enigma I machine worth tens of thousands of dollars, Reuters reports.

To the uninitiated, the rare electromechanical cipher machine—which was first developed in Germany in the 1920s, and was used to encode and decode Nazi military messages during World War II—resembles a writing machine. But when a cryptography professor spotted it, he knew the device’s true worth. He purchased the relic and later put it up for auction at the Bucharest auction house Artmark.

Artmark employee Vlad Georgescu told CNN that the machine was made in Germany in 1941. It was in near-perfect condition thanks to its owner, who cleaned and repaired it, and “took great care of it,” Georgescu said.

The Enigma I’s starting price was $10,300. On Tuesday, July 11, an online bidder purchased it for more than $51,000. "These machines are very rare, especially entirely functional ones," Georgescu said. Historians, however, say that Romania may still be home to more unidentified Engima I machines, as the country was once allied with Nazi Germany before joining forces with the Allies in 1944.

During World War II, Alan Turing and his colleagues at Bletchley Park, Britain's central codebreaking site, built a giant computer called the Bombe to calculate solutions that solved the Enigma’s supposedly unbreakable code. Some military historians believe that their efforts shortened the war by at least two years.

[h/t BBC News]

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Lafontaine Inc.
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Workers in Quebec City Discover Potentially Live Cannonball Dating Back to the French and Indian War
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Lafontaine Inc.

Quebec City is famous today for its old-world European charm, but a construction crew recently discovered a living relic of the city’s military past: a potentially explosive cannonball, dating all the way back to the French and Indian War.

As Smithsonian reports, workers conducting a building excavation in Old Quebec—the city’s historic center—last week unearthed the 200-pound metal ball at the corner of Hamel and Couillard streets. They posed for pictures before contacting municipal authorities, and archaeologist Serge Rouleau was sent in to collect the goods.

Initially, nobody—including Rouleau—knew that the rusty military artifact still posed a threat to city residents. But after the archaeologist toted the cannonball home in a trailer, he noticed a rusty hole through the center of the shell. This made him fear that the projectile was still loaded with gunpowder.

Rouleau contacted the Canadian military, which deployed bomb disposal specialists to collect the cannonball. They moved it to a secure location, where it will reportedly be either neutralized or destroyed. If the cannonball itself can be saved as a historic relic, it might be displayed in a museum.

“With time, humidity got into its interior and reduced its potential for exploding, but there’s still a danger,” munitions technician Sylvain Trudel told the CBC. “Old munitions like this are hard to predict … You never know to what point the chemicals inside have degraded.”

Experts believe that the cannonball was fired at Quebec City from Lévis, across the St. Lawrence River, during the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. This battle occurred on September 13, 1759, during the French and Indian War, when invading British troops defeated French forces in a key battle just outside Quebec City. Ultimately, the clash helped lead to Quebec’s surrender.

[h/t Smithsonian]

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Courtesy Cleveland Clinic
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This 90-Year-Old Has Knitted More Than 2000 Hats for Newborn Babies
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Courtesy Cleveland Clinic

Since 2009, 90-year-old Barbara Lowe has been a fixture at Hillcrest Hospital outside Cleveland, but she's not a patient. Almost a decade ago, the Mayfield Heights, Ohio, resident took it upon herself to begin knitting tiny hats for newborn babies delivered at Hillcrest, and has now delivered 2252 hats and counting, according to ABC News.

Lowe lives in a senior living complex across the street from the hospital, so it was an easy jump to go from whipping up hats for the children of her family and friends to delivering teeny headgear to the maternity ward.

Seven pastel knit caps lie on a wooden table.
Courtesy Cleveland Clinic

Using fine baby yarns, Lowe makes ribbed hats with a brim and a detachable flower, spending around four hours on each one. They come in a variety of pastel colors. Lowe is known around town for her work with the hospital, and the manager at the Michaels store she buys her supplies from gives her a discount on the yarn she uses for hospital caps.

"It's my therapy," Lowe told ABC News. "When you're 90, you've got aches and pains. You don't want to think about it. Well, you're not thinking about it if you're concentrating on what you're doing."

Lowe learned to crochet and sew as a child, and later taught herself to knit. She considers it a "dream" to be able to give back to her community by gifting the hats to new parents and their bundles of warm-headed joy. According to the hospital, the hats do more than just keep babies toasty after their first bath—they provide a teaching opportunity to help new parents learn how to keep their babies feeling warm, as a hospital official told Cleveland.com.

[h/t ABC News]

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