World War II Enigma Machine Highlights Doyle’s November 7 Auction of Rare Books, Autographs & Maps

  • NEW YORK, New York
  • /
  • October 23, 2017

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Three-Rotor Service Enigma Machine (Engima 1), [Heismoeth & Rinke]: 1940s. From a Private Minneapolis Collection. Est. $80,000-120,000.
George Catlin, Catlin's North American Indian Portfolio. New York: James Ackerman, 1845. Printed by R. Craighead. First American edition (first issue). Est. $100,000-200,000.
A Fashion Archive of Jacqueline Kennedy, With original sketches by Irwin Karabell for designer Oleg Cassini. New York: 1960-63. Est. $10,000-15,000.

On Tuesday, November 7 at 10am, Doyle will hold an auction of Rare Books, Autographs & Maps. The sale offers a wide assortment of material ranging from early illuminated manuscripts to modern literary first editions. Among the highlights are a rare World War II era Enigma Machine, 19th century color plate books of the American West, and a fashion archive of Jacqueline Kennedy as First Lady. Other notable property includes Robert Thornton's folio edition of The Temple of Flora, a leaf from the printer's manuscript of Joyce's Ulysses, and the rare 1767 Montresor map of the City of New York.

The Enigma 1 machine was used by the German Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe during World War II to encode orders and instructions, using a complex system of rotors and patch cables. The German High Command believed the Enigma cipher to be totally secure; British cryptographers at Bletchley Park under Alan Turing were able to break it, giving Britain and its allies a huge military advantage that may have shortened the War by two years. The example in the sale is from a Private Minneapolis Collection (est. $80,000-120,000).

An American color-plate rarity and one of just eight copies known of this issue, the 1845 New York edition of George Catlin’s North American Indian Portfolio was pirated from the English edition by New York lithographer James Ackerman, whose aim was to garner recognition for American artists and to encourage continuing the production of such works on native soil (est. $100,000-200,000).

The publication of The Temple of Flora, [1799]-1807, ruined its author and publisher, Robert Thornton, but the extravagance that financially doomed the project resulted in the greatest of all English flower books. The copy in the sale has thirty superb floral plates, all imbued with a thoroughly Romantic aesthetic, and is an unusually complete example, with all of the five frontispieces in colored state (est. $60,000-80,000).

Certain to attract attention is an important fashion archive spanning 1960-1963 and comprising original dress designs, swatches, ephemera and notes from Jacqueline Kennedy as First Lady to her favored designer, Oleg Cassini ($10,000-15,000). Portions of this fascinating archive were displayed in the landmark 2001 exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years.

An early letter from George Washington to his brother-in-law Burwell Bassett is dated 9 August 1759, just 8 months into his first year of marriage to Martha Custis. The letter regards the procurement of items for Mount Vernon and other matters, mentioning Mrs. Washington twice in addition to other notable Virginians of the period associated with Washington, including William Mercer, Henry Churchill and Colonel George William Fairfax (est. $15,000-20,000).

British surveyor John Montressor’s A Plan of the City of New-York was produced in secret for the purpose of mounting defenses of British strongholds as the Stamp Act Riots engulfed New York. The 1767 first edition is quite scarce and precedes the better known “Ratzer Plan” of the city by two years. It is property of a New York Collector (est. $8,000-12,000).

The public is invited to the exhibition on view from Saturday, November 4 through Monday, November 6. Doyle is located at 175 East 87th Street in Manhattan. The catalogue is available online at

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