Munich, April 2018 – This year’s Spring Auction at Hermann Historica GmbH will take place from May 1-11 with a wide range of high quality precious objects from all eras and originating from all over the world. Approximately 6,500 lots from all specialist areas represented by the auction house are to come under the hammer – antiquities, arms and armor, works of art, hunting antiques, orders and collectibles from all fields of history and military history.
Fine antique and modern firearms
Antique firearms will include a pair of de luxe flintlock pistols from the armory of the Princes of Lobkowitz, whose quality and aesthetic appearance unquestionably brought glory on their owner and stressed his social status. Produced circa 1730 at the Prague workshop of Paul Ignazius Poser, the weapons were finished with sophisticated chiseling work by the renowned Franz Matzendorf. The locks present extremely delicate, cut battle scenes, while the lock side plates show skirmishes with Turks. Decorative tendrils trail over the hammers and a procession of antique, mythological figures marches across the trigger guards and butt caps. The escutcheons with the finely engraved arms of the Princes von Lobkowitz and the gunsmith’s signature on the barrel clearly indicate both owner and creator of the masterpieces. A gifted artist succeeded in composing a true work of art, thanks to his inlays of engraved and blackened bone that enhance the walnut full stock of a hunting wheellock rifle, produced in Bohemia in 1678. Numerous hunting scenes and different aspects of castles, interrupted and framed with filigree silver decoration, are vividly depicted with enormous attention to detail and inlaid as contrasting elements in the dark wood. From a hunter on horseback, his weapon drawn, to a pack of hounds pursuing a lion as it attacks a hunter, every scene is beautifully finished and tells its own story. Another lot for sale is a South German de luxe grenade gun, displaying a formidable, cup-shaped bronze mortar barrel and a guide. Produced circa 1610/20, this museum-grade weapon also boasts superior quality and embellishment. The engraved trophies and floral decoration on the barrel, the rich inlays of engraved and blackened bone in the walnut stock and the sculptured butt, carved in the shape of a dragon’s head, emphasize the particularly stunning elegance of the gunmaker’s work.
As in previous years, the modern arms section guarantees a number of attractions, like a special catalogue with an entire collection of the legendary weapons made by Carl Walther. With around 380 firearms in all, the set includes virtually every model ever produced since 1908 in the factory at Zella-Mehlis, and later in Ulm. From the classic Walther PP and PPK pistols, the P 38, built after World War II as P 1, the German Army’s first service weapon, at the new factory in Ulm, right through to the 21st century PPS – the collection encompasses a series of prototypes, samples and unique pieces that have only made their mark by being documented in technical literature. The pièce de résistance is a cal. 7.25 mm Adler self-loading pistol from 1907. In total, a mere 100 pieces were manufactured after 1906, making it one of the rarest self-loading pistols of all time. As this firearm comes from the family estate of one of the designers and is in near mint condition to boot, it is truly a great find.
The antiquities section includes a variety of unique and exquisitely worked objects that were crafted by the highly skilled smiths of yesteryear; some artifacts are known to have formed part of prestigious collections for many years. Once again, the line-up of early bronze helmets and antique swords promises several undisputed rarities, among them a late Illyrian bronze helmet embellished with a chased border of dots along the cheek pieces and face opening, which was forged in one piece during the fifth to the early fourth century B.C. Among the moderately estimated edged weapons, the artworks cast in bronze are sure to appeal to buyers, such as a Bronze Age sword dating from the early Urnfield Period, the 12th century B.C., featuring a pronounced, offset medial rib with a flat, central ridge and almost parallel cutting edges, which is open to bids from 4,000 euros. Of considerably later date yet exceedingly uncommon, a Khazarian long sword with a silver-plated quillons is beautifully decorated with Late Antique ornamentation.
A Seljuk incense burner in bronze, its body composed of three identical faces, lending it a distinctive form, bears testimony to the outstanding craftsmanship of the Orient. With pointed chins and slightly puffed cheeks, the profile of the mouths, noses and eyes clearly delineated, the faces contemplate the beholder from every side. Stylized crosses suggest that it may be attributed to the area of conflict between Christian and oriental cultures, two cultural spaces that had a strong mutual influence on the artworks in the border regions. In excellent condition, this matchless work is to come under the hammer for 18,000 euros. Moreover, originating on a different continent, but no less gorgeous, are two gold statues from pre-Columbian South America. With a starting price of 6,000 euros, the figure of a two-headed animal, a mythical reptilian creature, was produced in the Colombian Tairona Culture between the 9th and the 15th century. By contrast, dating from the early Quimbaya civilisation in the fifth to the ninth century, the vial in the shape of a squatting cervid – half man, half stag – is sure to coax an enthusiast into parting with 14,000 euros.
Works of art
According to tradition, the arms and armor catalog opens with hunting antiques, works of art and rare wunderkammer objects. This spring, a Gothic interior door from Nuremberg, produced circa 1400, represents a triumph of supreme blacksmith’s workmanship. The door is adorned with diagonally overlapping iron bands on the front, studded with raised rivet heads in the shape of petals. A comparable piece can be found in the exhibition at the Germanisches National Museum, in the town where it was produced. The lozenge-shaped interspaces are inlaid with metal sheets, alternately depicting the Nuremberg coat of arms and a heraldic eagle and lion. One of the earliest objects in this section, the distinguished Staufian double seal belonging to Friedericus Palatinus, Count Palatine of Bavaria, circa 1156, is carved in yellowish-brown stone and proudly displays the bearer’s name and the German golden eagle.
More and more discerning collectors are signaling a keen interest in crafted caskets on offer, like an early Renaissance casket in lime wood with elaborate carvings and inlays from the famous Workshop of Embriachi in Venice circa 1500, or a slightly more recent South German bakers’ guild chest, circa 1520, still bearing the original iron mounts, lock and paintwork. Also, a significant iron casket from Nuremberg or Augsburg, circa 1600, appliquéd with relief decoration of mascarons and ornamental elements and probably the most beautiful of all Erhard & Söhne models: the Nibelungen casket. Produced in the finest art nouveau style in brass with rosewood inlays, circa 1910, at the company’s workshop in Schwäbisch Gmünd, the front shows Siegfried fighting the dragon, while the sides depict continuous scenes from theNibelungenlied, the Song of the Nibelungs.
An impressive recent piece is a magnificent example of the fine art of watchmaking: a Ulysse Nardin wristwatch, the Astrolabium Galileo Galilei model. The collector’s item was entered in the Guinness Book of World Records in 1989 as the wristwatch with the most complications at that time. The elaborate movement has 21 complications, including a month and date display, the signs of the zodiac, a display of the orbits of different planets and stars, solar and lunar eclipses, and many more.
Arms and Armor
The works produced by the mediaeval and early modern armorers and blacksmiths invariably exhibit the highest standards of functional reliability and aesthetics. Accordingly, every last detail in the composition of the highly ornate German full armor in Augsburg style, from the second half of the 16th century, has been meticulously devised, accorded a specific function and splendidly worked to boot, The roped flanges at the gussets and neck opening deflected onslaughts away from the body, while the shoulders, greaves and gauntlets granted the wearer the greatest possible freedom of movement by all sliding on several lames. Boasting a screw-mounted, hinged lance rest on the side and a particularly sturdy, ridged breast plate, the armor was clearly intended to afford the competitor optimal protection during the tournament. Topped with an elegant close helmet, forged in one piece and fitted with visors, this piece is stunning.
A rare, German chamfron from the same period demonstrates that protecting and embellishing human combatants was not the armorer’s only priority. Worked in one piece and ridged in places, featuring specially riveted ear covers and elaborately turned, semi-circular eye openings, the iron chamfron shielded the horse’s skull from all manner of blows. Equally worthy of note is a significant morion in characteristic form, profusely decorated with black stain etching, whose exceptionally renowned provenance is documented as the prestigious Conan Doyle Collection. Trophies with a lion and dragon adorn the comb, while Fortune perches on the skull, flanked by two putti and trophy decoration. The border of ornate brass rosettes provides the final flourish to the overall aesthetic appearance of the helmet, which was probably made in Pisa, Italy, circa 1580.
Next in line is a German sword from the first decades of the 17th century; similar weapons may be found in the well-known military museums of Stockholm and Paris. The blackened iron knuckle-bow hilt is particularly arresting by virtue of its fine décor of flower tendrils and cherubim, inlaid in silver. The sophisticated inlay technique – the marquetry of the artisan metalworker, which has all but vanished today – was only used for first-class artifacts; it therefore turns this particular piece, the eight ribs of the pommel also adorned with the precious metal silver, into a special collector’s item. Collectors will also be interested in a Maximilian hand-and-a-half sword, which was forged circa 1520 in South Germany. Extremely rare, of early date and in good, untouched condition, the spectacular edged weapon, surmounted with a spirally fluted pommel, is will go under the auction hammer.
Asia, Orient and Africa
The quality and diversity of the lots from Africa, the Ottoman Empire, India, Japan and China remain as irresistible as ever. A Chinese significant ferrule in bronze with gold and silver inlays from the Warring States period in the fourth and third centuries B.C. sets the scene for the illustrious, rare and magnificent lots in this section. Originating from a private collection, in which ownership is documented for many years, the object is profusely decorated with stylized bird’s heads and expected to fetch a minimum of 27,000 euros. A 17th century carved ivory powder flask from India is sure to delight buyers by virtue of its intricate relief decoration, with naturalistically modeled depictions of birds, fish and various animal heads, such as elephant, tiger and gazelle, the eyes partly inlaid in red lacquer. Offers of at least 12,500 euros are welcome for the brilliantly executed, graceful artifact, exuding tremendous appeal. No less exclusive is a fabulously decorative pesh kabz from Lucknow in India, wrought in the second half of the 18th century. Jahrhunderts ebenso kostbar wie dekorativ gefertigt wurde. The recurved, single-edged steel blade tapers from the curved, solid silver grip down to a short, double-edged point. The grip is lavishly enameled in blue and green with graphic patterns, while the partially gilt background accentuates the translucent effect of this opulent enhancement. Moreover, the demand for Caucasian gold-inlaid miquelet-lock pistols has remained unabated for years. Produced circa 1830/40, the barrel, lock and stock of this example are covered in floral ornaments.
Military history and historical objects
The military history and historical objects section is a treasure trove of singularly interesting collectors’ items from all over the world. Among them are artifacts from the turbulent history of Germany and France in the second half of the 18th century, like the distinctive hunting hanger, which was presented on the occasion of the Treaty of Hubertusburg on February 15, 1763. The peace treaty between Prussia and Austria marked the end of the Seven Years’ War and ensured that Frederick II (1712 – 1786) maintained his possession of Silesia. The hunting hanger features portrait cartouches of Frederick II and Maria Theresia (1717 – 1780) with decorative gilt etching, while inscriptions in French commemorate the occasion and date of the dedication, and give Solingen as the place of manufacture. A slightly more recent object is also directly associated with the Prussian King Frederick II, namely a donation certificate for the order cross of the (tr.) “noble secular convent St. Marien zu Minden”, dated 1778. Bearing the original signature of Frederick II, the twelve-page parchment document lays out the donation text in intricate calligraphic script over five pages. Hand-painted illustrations of the convent cross, reverse medallion and breast star add the finishing touches to the description of the newly recognized order. Opening at 12,500 euros, even the black and silver cord and the red wax seal with the large Prussian coat of arms on this prodigiously rare document are beautifully preserved. Some exceptional pieces reflecting military history and splendor from the Kingdom of Bavaria are also certain to attract attention, including a helmet M 1852 for enlisted men and non-commissioned officers of the Royal Bavarian Hartschiere Life Guards. The imposing helmet – the grand ceremonial issue – has a nickel-silver skull crowned with a rampant parade lion, appliquéd with the large Bavarian coat of arms surmounted by a crown.
There will be a wide range of consignments from the personal possessions of European sovereigns, like the telescope belonging to King Ludwig II (1845 – 1886), engraved with his monogram, the royal crown and a laurel wreath. With a quintuple brass barrel and still in excellent condition, the telescope can be extended to a maximum length of 55 centimeters. Hohenschwangau Palace houses a similar telescope, with which Ludwig II observed the progress on the construction of Neuschwanstein Palace from Hohenschwangau until his death in 1886. In recognition of their achievements in the Seven Years’ War, Frederick the Great commissioned special snuffboxes circa 1760 as gifts for his most trusted generals. Covered in blue enamel and adorned with an ancient warrior, a guard eagle, trophy bundles and the crowned cipher ‘FR’ amidst the dates and places of the victorious battles, only four of these copper boxes were ever made. Coming under the hammer for 5,000 euros, the catalogued piece is said to have belonged to General von Wrangel. Furthermore, objects of tremendous opulence from the most intimate domain of Empress Elisabeth of Austria await prospective buyers: selected garments from her stylish wardrobe, a large hatbox made by the packaging purveyor to the royal-imperial court, J. Chauvin in Paris, specially painted with the monogram ‘E’ beneath a crown, surrounded by pale pink roses, plus three handwritten verses of a poem, composed as a young woman circa 1852, which are listed at 4,000 euros.
A number of great names and unparalleled historical artifacts from their personal property head the procession of Russian military objects. Two edged weapons are bound to be the dazzling highlights of the Russian section. The heavy cavalry sword made in Solingen by P.W. Knecht, dated 1844, which was presented to Prince Georg of Hesse-Darmstadt (1780 – 1856) by Tsar Nicholas I of Russia (1796 – 1856) will be up for sale. A sabre M 1881/1909 for valour, known as the ‘golden weapon’, for officers of the Russian cavalry, the point partly open worked and etched, with traces of gildingwill be sought after. Also for sale is the exquisite miniature portrait of the celebrated Russian journalist, author, publisher and philosopher Nikolay Ivanovich Novikov (1744 – 1818), which was painted at the turn of the 19th century.
Orders and Insignia
Decorations from the Soviet Union are likely to be the main attraction among the approximately 340 lots in this section, including a set of the Order of St. Anna, 1st Class with Diamonds, doubtless one of the best Russian ensembles to come onto the market in the last few decades. The superb luminosity of the translucent red enamel cross on the intricately engraved gold background commands the gaze, while the fine enamel painting – executed with ultimate attention to detail – underlines the significance of this gem, which may be acquired for 30,000 euros. No less remarkable, the decorative set of the Order of the White Eagle, dated 1856, was presumably produced in the famous workshop of Johann Wilhelm Keibel (1788 – 1862), purveyor to the tsarist court. Highly unusual by virtue of the high-grade, 18 carat alloy, the set is destined to take pride of place in a new collection for 20,000 euros.
Moreover, connoisseurs can look forward to an absolute rarity in the complete collection of decorations for the Military Order of Max Joseph from the estate of Major Dr. Günther Freiherr von Pechmann (1882 – 1962), the director of the New Collection in Munich of many years’ standing. One particular highlight is a Knight’s Cross, worked in gold during the Wars of Liberation, with the circular royal crown that is typical of the production series circa 1814. The history of this award is fully documented from 1814 until it was presented to the final bearer in 1916.
*Please note: all prices quoted are net prices and do not include the 25% premium.