Second world war memorabilia is as fascinating as it is moving. Here are 10 of the most important pieces ever to come to auction.
10) Churchill typescript – $31,550
A typescript with handwritten revisions by Churchill, following the invasion of Sicily and three days after the overthrow of Mussolini, sold for £20,400 ($31,550) at Sotheby’s in July 2003.
9) Peter White archive – $59,790
This insight into the life of a normal soldier during the Second World War, infantry platoon commander Peter White, sold for £30,000 ($59,790) at Christie’s in June 2007.
It included his handwritten diary covering 1944-1945, along with over 730 drawings in pen and ink, newspaper clippings, photographs, the typed and handwritten manuscript of his published work With the Jocks, his regimental KOSB Glengarry ,4 medals, a Kodak camera taken from a German prisoner in Holland with photographs developed from the film, and several sketchbooks.
8) Mussolini’s Order of Courage medal – $122,139
An Order of Courage military medal owned by Mussolini, taken from him on the day of his arrest in Rome, sold for €100,000 ($122,139) at La Galerie Numismatique in March 2012.
Collectibles relating to the former fascist dictator are quite sought-after.
7) Hitler’s guard night pistol – $160,000
Image: Rock Island Auction
A night pistol of Adolf Hitler’s personal guard, with tracer ammunition and flashlight, sold for $160,000 at Rock Island Auction in April 2012.
6) Anne Frank’s letters – $165,000
Image: Wikimedia Commons
A series of letters written by Anne Frank in English to pen pals in Iowa in 1940, the only Anne Frank memorabilia ever to be auctioned, sold for $165,000 at Swann Auction Galleries in October 1988.
5) Enigma cipher machine: $208,137
The German Enigma cipher machine is extremely collectible, being at the time the most complex encoding device ever created. It’s decryption by British code breakers at Bletchley Park is said to have shortened the war by two years.
The highest price ever fetched for an Enigma machine was £133,250 ($208,137) at Christie’s in September 2011.
4) Hitler’s Desk – $423,000
Image: Alexander Historical Auctions
Adolf Hitler’s brass desk, which he used for signing the Munich pact, was sold for $423,000 by Alexander Autographs in December 2011.
3) Alan Turing’s notebook – $1.0 million
Alan Turing’s notebook, containing 56 pages of the second world war codebreaker’s thoughts, auctioned for $1.0 million at Bonhams in April 2015.
Turing and his team at Bletchley Park cracked the code used by Germany’s Enigma machines. Their efforts are said to have shortened the war by two years.
It was the first Turing handwritten item ever to come to auction.
2) Victoria Cross medal – $1.1 million
An Australian WWII Victoria Cross, one of only 22 awarded to Australians, sold for $1.1million at Noble Numismatics, July 28th 2011.
1) Hitler’s Mercedes-Benz – $8 million