April 2015 | Nate Pedersen

Turing Manuscript Tips $1 Million

Thumbnail image for turing3.pngLast week we profiled a composition book written by Alan Turing during WWII while he was leading British codebreaking efforts at Bletchley Park. Yesterday, that composition book was sold at Bonhams for over $1 million (including buyer's premium) to a bidder in the room who wished to remain anonymous. The manuscript--containing 56 handwritten pages from Turing as he reflected upon Descartes and Leibniz--is believed to be the only extensive Turing manuscript in existence. The composition book sold in just over two minutes of bidding.

"What I really, really hope for is that a collector buys it and makes it available to an institution, at least loans it for a few years and makes it available to scholars," said Cassandra Hatton, Bonham's History of Science and Technology director (and early entry in our Bright Young Booksellers series) to AFP. Bonhams is not alone in that desire, although the future of the manuscript remains uncertain at present.

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At the same auction, an actual German Enigma machine from WWII sold for $269,000, blowing through its estimate of $140,000-180,0000. The fully functional Enigma machine also sold to an in-person attendee who wished to remain anonymous.

Bonhams said that a portion of the proceeds from these sales will be donated to charity.

Images Courtesy of Bonhams.