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Four-rotor Enigma cipher machine – $300,000 (£223,880) at Sotheby’s New York.

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Shown above, this was the model ordered for use on German U-Boats by Admiral Doenitz, who rightly suspected that the standard three-rotor versions were not as secure as other German military commanders believed.

Far harder to decrypt, and much rarer nowadays – not least because many ended their days on the seabed – a fully working example owned by David Hamer, a historian of cryptology, sold for $300,000 (£223,880) in a December 12 History of Science & Technology sale held by Sotheby’s New York (25/20/12.9% buyer’s premium).

High fliers

The above-mentioned telescope, a late 19th century, 3¼in reflecting model by Paul Dörffel of Berlin, sold for $350,000 (£260,225) at Christie’s New York (25/20/12.5% buyer’s premium) on December 5

The working example of the Apple 1 computer made $300,000 (£223,880) in a History of Science & Technology sale held by Bonhams New York (25/20/12.5% buyer’s premium) on December 6.