MUNICH – This year’s spring auction at Hermann Historica oHG will take place from April 29 to May 9 with the usual wide range of high quality objects. Approximately 5,500 lots from all specialist areas represented by the auction house – antiquities, arms and armour, works of art, hunting antiques, orders and collectibles from military history – will be auctioned.
Military history and historical objects
The highlight of the 66th auction is an object of museum quality and imperial provenance, whose priceless magnificence is matched only by its cultural and historical significance. Modelled on the famous shrine in the Basilica of the Holy Blood in Bruges, the reliquary was presented by the Belgian royal family to Franz Joseph I of Austria (1830 – 1916) and Empress Elisabeth (1837 – 1898) in 1888 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Emperor’s accession to the throne. This masterpiece of jeweller’s craftsmanship, incorporating silver, enamel, diamonds, semi-precious stones like topazes and garnets, rock crystals and freshwater pearls with finely crafted precious woods, was created by the Viennese imperial court jeweller, Ludwig Politzer.
Fashioned in the style of the late Renaissance, the architecture of the reliquary is composed of a large columned hall on a tiered socle, the central relic shrine surmounted by a large canopy displaying the enamelled image of the Holy Ghost, the superstructure with various figures of saints is topped by a pelican finial. The entire surface is profusely decorated with raised, polychrome-enamelled flower tendril ornaments adorned with semi-precious stones and pearls. The medallions on the relic shrine are decorated with fine enamel paintings depicting biblical scenes and containing numerous references to the life of the Emperor. Standing 1.11 metres tall and weighing over 23 kilogrammes, this extraordinarily imposing royal gift is of the highest quality; the listed starting price is 250,000 euros.
Once again, the entire militaria section also has an excellent line-up of lots to attract buyers’ interest. Another item belonging to Emperor Franz Joseph I, is his personal house overcoat known as the “Bonjourl,” dating from 1912. In outstanding condition and bearing the tailor’s label of the purveyor to the court “A. Uzel & Sohn,” this imperial garment is open to bids from 12,500 euros. Furthermore, therewill be a number of fine helmets from all periods and regions, like the M 1889 helmet for officers of the Regiment Garde du Corps or the Cuirassier Guards Regiment, estimated at 7,000 euros. Exceptionally rare uniforms, like the ensemble belonging to an Oberleutnant of the Bavarian Flying Corps in the German Alpine Corps (starting price 9,500 euros) and contemporary documents, some containing photographs, complete the objects up for auction in the section of historical collectors’ items.
Covering a diverse range of themes, the antiquities section at this auction once again will include rare and exceptional collector’s items of the highest quality. Particularly impressive is a Chalcidian bronze helmet dating from the 5th/4th century BC with the characteristically curved cheek pieces and skull emblazoned with palmettes, which will be sold as one lot with the matching, naturalistically modelled greaves. Bidding starts at 25,000 euros for this set with its exquisitely fine workmanship, the beautiful green/reddish-brown patina and the metal in marvellous condition, these objects derive from a long-established private collection in Southern Germany. Slightly more recent, of notable provenance and likewise in good condition, is a Roman legionary’s helmet of the Montefortino/Buggenum type dating from around the birth of Christ. Forged in one piece with the characteristic mushroom-shaped top knob on the bronze hemispherical skull, this item was part of the famous Axel Guttmann Collection and is open to bids from 18,000 euros. In contrast, the new owner of a rare Roman dagger, a gladius pompeianus with a richly decorated silver scabbard from the 1st/2nd century AD, will have to part with a minimum of 12,000 euros.
Moreover, amongst the non-military objects in this section, some unique pieces are to come under the hammer once again this spring. One such object is a splendid, partially gilt silver ladle, exceptionally elegant and extremely rare, which was used at Roman ceremonies as part of a drinking service. A simpulum like this was used to ladle wine into goblets from a large jar. Due to the high demand for appealing, magnificently wrought ladles, this example has decorative openwork and the end of the handle is shaped as the head of an ibex. This artefact of antique culture dating from around the birth of Christ can be acquired from 25,000 euros. Also of Roman origin and from the same period is lot number 2144, a significant disk fibula. Partiallygold-plated , the oval silver plaque is embellished with an erotic scene in half relief, and is up for auction for 10,000 euros.
Arms and armour, arts and crafts
According to tradition, the arms and armour section opens with hunting antiques and works of art. Dated circa 1620, an outstanding, silver mounted ebony casket from Augsburg is so exquisite that it would take pride of place in any “Kunstkammer” collection. All elements are so elaborately worked and splendidly embellished that this bijou is an example of every conceivable form of craftsmanship in superb quality. From the fittings in inscribed silver openwork, the escutcheon with its finely engraved antique tableau, the intact velvet lining, the silver bottles and their matching engraved lids, to a secret compartment for a circa 1730 custom-made verge movement clock with a fire-gilt mount, each single detail accentuates the significance of this unique piece. Marked, stamped and signed in parts, the reserve for this museum-quality casket is 12,000 euros.
Likewise dating from the early 17th century, but a great deal weightier and with a starting bid of 9,500 euros, is a heavy iron casket from Nuremberg fitted with two triangular padlocks. Particularly impressive is the little coffer’s sophisticated locking mechanism with its ten latches and its richly pierced cover plate, engraved with grotesque masks. Bidding starts at 7,500 euros for the striking Flemish painting “Salomé presenting the Head of Saint John the Baptist to Herod” in oil on wood, still in the original, opulent frame, which dates from around the same period; the work is attributed to the ambit of Frans Francken II.
A highlight of the antique arms and armour section is a seemingly archaic, late-Gothic crossbow with a sturdy prod made of horn and animal sinew, covered in parchment. The hunting crossbow, manufactured circa 1500, still retains the original prod anchors made of hemp cords. Estimated at 18,000 euros, the price reflects the rarity and excellent condition of the Southern German bow.
Just a few years earlier, the late-Gothic chamfron with the lot number 3253 was forged in a Nuremberg workshop. The centre plate of the chamfron bears a fan-shaped fluting, while a sturdy central ridge and flared flanges ensure optimal protection of the horse’s head at all times. Nuremberg inspection marks certify the provenance of the lot, which is open to bids from 20,000 euros.
This year’s spring auction includes a gratifying and exceptionally wide range of objects from the original armoury of the Munich Arsenal. The pieces have been acquired over a quarter of a century for a private collection and are now available for auction to interested parties. Among them is an extremely rare, heavy sword made for the Munich Town Guard, circa 1600, original in all parts. Struck on both sides with the mark “ST”, this refers to the workshop of Wolfgang Standler, while the obverse side bears the stamp of the Munich Arsenal, “HZ” beside a crown. Bids of 15,000 euros upwards are invited for this rare sword. Dated 1585, an antenna-hilted sword of the same Munich provenance is open to bids from 8,500 euros. Once again, the sword can be definitively ascribed to the same Arsenal, however it bears the stamp of “Pettherr Wirsberch”.
First-class helmets are also within the lots in this section, including a southern German burgonet with three combs dating from 1510/20, frequently attributed to the Munich Town Guard and on offer here from 7,800 euros, as well as exceptional rarities like a superb hunting trousse in excellent condition from the estate of a count, the Bishop of Gurk (Carinthia), Jakob Maximilian von Thun und Hohenstein (1681 – 1740), for which bidding starts at 8,500 euros.
Orient and Asia
The quality and diversity of the lots from the Ottoman Empire, India, as well as Japan and China remain as compelling as ever. One piece from the Indian subcontinent that is as spectacular as it is decorative will come under the hammer. Carved in one piece from a rhinoceros horn, the appeal of this large cup lies in the clean lines of its composition and the fine quality of the slightly translucent, amber-coloured material. Dating from the turn of the nineteenth century, the cup stands a remarkable 24.5 cm tall; bids are invited from 48,000 euros.
Equally splendid are a rare breastplate from Deccan, modelled in the 18th century on European design, expected to fetch 5,700 euros and a rare example of an early helmet, a kulah khud from the 17th century, originating in northern India, with an opening bid of 8,000 euros. Bidding starts at 25,000 euros for an impressive Persian set comprising two magnificent silver candelabra embellished with floral designs, each weighing a formidable six kilogrammes, with a corresponding mirror.
For many years, the demand for high-quality objects from Russia, which come onto the market from established collections, has remained unabated. Once again in this auction, Hermann Historica is offering collectors the opportunity to acquire exquisite pieces originating from or associated with the tsarist court. Bids from 35,000 euros are invited for an important artefact of first-class workmanship, namely the card table belonging to Tsar Alexander II from Lazienki Palace in Warsaw. Engraved with the tsar’s cypher “A II”, the baroque folding table is an example of the finest craftsmanship and is veneered with walnut, palisander, birch root wood and bog oak.
An exceptionally rare decoration for bravery awarded to officers of the Russian Cuirassiers is offered with a starting price of 45,000 euros. Reverently known as the “Golden Weapon,” the heavy cavalry sword M 1826 is partly fire-gilt and bears the inscription “For Bravery” as well as the sword-knot of the Order of St. George. The workshop of the gunsmith Kazma Alexandrovich Zyabrev, Tula, is famous for its exceptionally fine firearms; here, a pair of 1860 gold-inlaid percussion pistols with nickel silver fittings and engraved with decorative tendrils, are offered for auction for 12,000 euros.
Orders and Insignia
Among the large number of orders and insignia up for auction, some exceedingly rare and therefore valuable Bavarian, Prussian and Russian orders particularly stand out. Thus, this auction offers a unique opportunity to acquire possibly the rarest Bavarian breast star, the Military Order of Max Joseph, circa 1910, with a reserve of 16,000 euros. Produced by the orders jewellers Hemmerle Brothers in Munich, the brilliant-studded Star of the Order in silver, gold and fine enamelling in the Bavarian state colours was only awarded twenty times. Starting at 15,000 euros each are the Russian decoration for bravery of the Order of St. Vladimir of 1820 in the orders group for an officer in the Hanseatic Legion and a great rarity among Prussian orders, a Breast Star to the Order of Merit of the Prussian Crown, which was instituted as recently as 1901.
Fine antique and modern firearms
This spring sees another exclusive selection of high-quality antique firearms. Sought-after rarities, some of them unique and seldom found on the international market, are being offered for auction by an important German private collection. One outstanding example is this splendid chiselled, gilt powder flask from the Munich workshop of Caspar Spät, circa 1640.
Finely engraved bone plaques depicting mythological scenes adorn the broad sides of the curved, octagonal fruitwood body, while the narrow sides are decorated with animals and tendrils. Similar pieces can be found in the L’Armeria Reale in Turin and are attributed to Emanuel Sadeler, chiseller of Munich and Adam Vischer, stockmaker. The price of this piece reflects its rarity and quality; this excellent, high-quality work is expected to fetch a minimum of 25,000 euros.
Of the same provenance is an exquisitely ornamented wheellock rifle (Tschinke) from Teschen in fine condition, circa 1650, offered for 15,000 euros. Particularly striking are the skillfully engraved and elaborate blackened staghorn and mother-of-pearl inlays in the walnut full stock.
Of different origin but of equal interest is an officer’s wheellock pistol of the Saxon Electorate Life Guards made by the Dresden gunsmith Zacharias Herold, circa 1600. The well-kept armoury pistol with its ornate floral decorations is expected to fetch 19,000 euros.
Moreover, exceptionally rare examples of modern arms are also available. For example, a Mannlicher self-loading pistol carbine Model 1901, calibre 7.63 in almost mint overall condition, for sale from 6,500 euros, or an exceptionally rare Adler self-loading pistol circa 1906/07, calibre 7.25, part of a limited series, which can be acquired from 5,500 euros.
All prices are net prices and are to be understood plus 23 percent surcharge. The pre-sale viewing will take place from 23 to 28 April on the premises of Hermann Historica oHG.
For more information, visit www.hermann-historica.com.
All Pictures: Copyright Hermann Historica oHG 2013