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Examples of the most important pieces of WWII memorabilia

Sam Dickson

Second world war memorabilia is as fascinating as it is moving. With the war being such a vast subject with people collecting anything from WWII bottle openers right up to the ultimate which is a fighter plane. There are many riches to be made in the collecting market and this does lead to what some would call grave robbing.

Many battlefields (certainly on the eastern front) are dug up on an on going basis’s by ‘collectors’ who are looking mainly for German artifacts – the collecting market for German relics is the biggest by far and people go to great lengths to recover artifacts from the battlefield, even disregarding what human remains they come across.

As you will see below, collectors will pay big money to have that special something in their collections. The term ‘top shelve collectors’ are those who have a massive amount of wealth and will pay the asking price for something that is unique – as we will see below – one of Hitlers cars sold for $8 MILLION. So lets have a look at some of the prices that collectables have sold for:

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

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Image: Christie’s 

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.

Collectables relating to the former fascist dictator are quite sought-after.

7) Hitler’s guard night pistol – $160,000

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

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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 collectable, 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

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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

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Image: Bonhams

Alan Turing’s notebook, containing 56 pages of the second world war code breaker’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 $1.1 million at Noble Numismatics, July 28th 2011.

1) Hitler’s Mercedes-Benz – $8 million

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Image: Wikimedia Commons

This bullet-proof luxury Mercedes-Benz 770K, produced between 1930 and 1943, was owned by Adolf Hitler.  He could not drive himself, so was chauffeured around in the car. It was sold to a Russian Billionaire in November 2009 for around $8 million along with a collection of other Mercedes-Benz from the era.