M-209 for sale on EBay

Jay D. Dyson jdyson at treachery.net
Tue Oct 29 02:57:41 EST 2002

On Mon, 28 Oct 2002, Jim Gillogly wrote:

> > Small wonder.  The unit in question appears to have a distinct lack of
> > wear and no sign of degradation from regular use.  Having worked with
> > U.S. military hardware (mid 1980s) that was from the Korean conflict 
> > era, I can attest that *nothing* ever came our way that was that
> > pristine.  This in itself leads me to believe the item up for bid is a
> > replica.
> I'm not convinced by this argument -- but then I have a vested interest
> in not being convinced.  I have an apparently nearly identical M-209-B,
> also unused before I got it.  Since then I've encrypted a couple of
> thousand characters on it; it works perfectly, and matches the behavior
> of a real M-209.  The story was that it was part of a cache of surplus
> M-209's that were produced but never needed in WW2, and they "turned up"
> decades later.

	As one who works full-time for the government, I can't say I've
ever seen anything come out of decades of storage in any shape better than
fair condition unless it was kept in museum conditions.  Hell, I've seen
systems with far greater monetary value and computational power than those
machines coming out of five years' storage and looking like London after
the Blitz.

> I bought mine perhaps 10 years ago.  The accessories were also in
> perfect condition: an extra roll of tape, the ink and pad tubes, and the
> khaki carrying case.  The manual seemed to me convincing:  the realistic
> WW2-style paper was yellowed but unused, and the staples had rusted,
> suggesting that it had been bound a good long time before I bought it.

	Interesting indeed.  And while I'm certainly in no position to
verify or disqualify the authenticity of the item you own, it seems odd
that the manual's staples would rust while the components themselves
weren't adversely affected.

> Have you ever heard of anyone making M-209 replicas?  If you were going
> to that much trouble, why not do it with Enigmas instead?  They're much
> better known, more secure (for what it's worth at that security level),
> and have a much higher potential street value. 

	True...and for those reasons, any Enigma replicas being passed
around as the genuine article would receive that much more scrutiny.  To
draw a parallel, there's a reason why counterfeiters prefer to manufacture
20-dollar bills rather than 100-dollar bills.  The more common an item,
the less critical any assessment of its authenticity will be.

	Again, you may well have the genuine article on your hands.  But
my experience leaves me understandably skeptical.


  (    (                                                          _______
  ))   ))   .--"There's always time for a good cup of coffee"--.   >====<--.
C|~~|C|~~| (>------ Jay D. Dyson -- jdyson at treachery.net ------<) |    = |-'
 `--' `--'  `-------- Blackout, 2001.  Gray out, 2002. --------'  `------'

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