The antique firearms section revealed an array of unique lots such as a three-shot wheellock pistol from 1610. Only few examples these are known to be in museums worldwide and it is seldom found on the market. Collectors seized the opportunity, eventually bidding 34,000 euros, 4,000 euros more than the reserve price. Manufactured in Germany, with inlays of engraved and blackened bone in the walnut full stock, the appeal of the pistol lay in the elaborate mechanism of its three locks. Also sold was a combination weapon of a battle axe with a wheellock firearm, crafted in Nuremberg circa 1580. Likewise featuring a walnut stock inlaid with engraved and blackened bone, acanthus decoration chiseled on the barrel root and trigger guard, together with an imposing axe head: the example of the blacksmith’s and gunmaker’s craft achieved its minimum bid of 28,000 euros. A two-shot, all-metal wheellock pistol from the same period and region was in excellent, untouched original condition. The price reflected the rarity and condition of this hallmarked firearm, with the sale being completed for 25,000 euros. Other items included: a decorative work by Filippo Moretti, a flintlock pistol, chiseled and partially gilt, crafted in Brescia circa 1700, which opened at 5,800 euros sold for 23,000 euros, and a South German flintlock petronel sold for its starting price of 15,000 euros.
Also up for auction were a number of guns and small arms made by Hanover gunsmiths during the 17th – 19th century from the collection of Heinz-Walter Hebestreit. Connoisseurs were able to purchase superbly crafted pieces by highly respected, North German exponents of the guild – many of whom are regarded as the best gunmakers of their time – that had been acquired over four decades. Few objects were left for the post-auction sale.
The modern arms section offered up weapons, like the self-loading pistol Roth-Theodorovic Mod. 1901, part of field trials involving 33 weapons. The pistol was listed at 12,000 euros and sold for 20,000 euros. A nickel-plated Schulhof repeating pistol, mod. 1887 (1888) changed hands for its opening price of 9,000 euros. Although moderately estimated at 4,500 euros, an Astra model F with the matching case and shoulder stock of the Guardia Civil, from a consignment dated 1935, fetched 14,000 euros. A minimum bid of 9,500 euros was required to secure an original, long-barrelled, calibre 7.63 mm Mauser C 96 self-loading, hunting carbine from 1905, with a detachable stock and brown leather carry bag. The winning bid of 28,000 euros exceeded the listed price.
The armor and weapons of the Samurai
Even during the run-up to the 73rd auction, the unique collection of approximately 300 objects from the fields of Japanese art and weaponry amassed by Rudolf Ott (1919 – 2010), a chemist in Munich, had attracted a great deal of interest around the world. The auction concluded with a sales quota of almost 100%; overall, the collection achieved tremendous final prices, with some objects fetching up to more than sixty times the opening bid. A jizai okimono from the Meiji period (1868 – 1912), fashioned of hammered and engraved sheet iron plates in the shape of a fully articulated koi carp, went for 170,000 euros. A jizai okimono appeared at the end of the Edo period and the associated dissolution of the Samurai caste. The political and social developments of the time meant that even the renowned and highly specialized armorers and blacksmiths lost their livelihood. As a consequence, some of them devoted their skills and craftsmanship to producing jizai okimono.
The helmets were also much sought after, for example a ten-plate yane hachi from the mid Edo period (1603 – 1868), in the form of a reinforced gabled roof, which changed hands for 58,000 euros. A four-plate uchidashi kabuto from the second half of the Edo period, the skull featuring a crouching shishi, a guardian lion, which was estimated at 4,500 euros, sold for 42,000 euros. A do maru gusoku armor from the mid Edo period,its iron helmet formed of 24 plates in the style around 1250, which was offered for auction from 13,000 euros sold for 21,000 euros; a long and a short sword, parts of the blades made circa 1530 by members of the prestigious Kanemoto family, fetched its limit of 20,000 euros and a Chinese gilt-bronze figure of Guanyin from the Ming period, sold for 46,000 euros.
The demand for well preserved early bronze helmets crafted by the highly skilled smiths of yore has remained unabated for many years. Forged during the end of the first to the early second century A.D., a Roman bronze infantry helmet of Weisenau type emerged as the absolute highlight. It changed hands for 105,000 euros. The helmet boasted the characteristic movable cheek pieces, the flared neck guard and the knob to insert the crest and was part of the renowned Axel Guttmann Collection of Berlin. Only slightly older, dating from the second century B.C., a Roman bronze helmet of the Montefortino type attracted a great deal of attention among buyers thanks to its re-chased skull, which was cast in one piece in accordance with Etruscan tradition. It sold for 11,500 euros, more than doubling its estimate. No less skillfully fashioned were the exquisite works crafted by gold and silversmiths in ancient times, among them a striking gold bracelet, delicately incised with ram heads, which was created in Greece in the fifth century B. C. Tipping the scales at 30 grams and open to bids from 10,000 euros, the antique bijou found a new owner for 12,500 euros. From a different era and a different culture, a Colombian sculpture from the Zenú culture during the ninth to the fifteenth centuries once again caused a flurry of excitement and lively participation, ultimately achieving a gratifying final price. The squatting toad, its head held aloft and naturalistically modelled in gold alloy, exactly doubled its asking price of 5,000 euros by changing hands for 10,000 euros.
Arms and armor, arts and crafts
According to tradition, the arms and armor catalogue opened with rare wunderkammer objects, hunting antiques and works of art. A bibliophile masterpiece, the Kreütter Buch or herbal written by Hieronymus Bock (1498 – 1554) in 1551 was offered for sale. Valued at 3,500 euros, its singularity was bound to meet with the approval of interested buyers and the volume was snapped up for 4,200 euros. Bock ranked among the leading scientists of his time and was widely regarded as one of the ‘fathers of botany’. He first presented his magnum opus, richly illustrated with 500 woodcuts, in 1539. A botanist, physician and Lutheran minister, the author’s markedly precise observations and descriptions of the flora made the work a resounding success from the outset. A baroque bottle from Saxony, dated 1683 and profusely decorated with tendrils and ornaments in extremely fine enamel painting, changed hands for its limit of 3,800 euros. Furthermore, a Flemish large-size gobelin tapestry from the second half of the 17th century was truly awe-inspiring due to the vibrant colors of the forest landscape and its substantial, uncut original size of 2.90 by 3.80 meters. Equally imposing and decorative, the textile masterpiece was estimated at 7,000 euros but the sale was only completed at 12,500 euros.
Once more collectors’ items were among the antique arms and armor on offer, including a selection of 16th century swords. One example, a late Gothic two-handed battle sword, which was forged in Switzerland or South Germany circa 1500 – 1520, was classified as a particular rarity. Its blade embellished with brass inlays on one side and the Passau wolf mark on the other, the powerful sword boasted a length of some 1.66 meters and was original in all parts. Even the leather cover of the wooden grip dated from the same period as the two-handed sword itself, which found a buyer for its reserve of 24,000 euros. Next up, dated circa 1490, thus just slightly older and from the same region, was a late Gothic hand-and-a-half sword, featuring a double-edged, hallmarked thrusting blade with pronounced fullers on both sides. Valued at 8,000 euros, featuring a fan-shaped pommel and still bearing the original leather cover, the sword was acquired for 14,500 euros.
The 73rd auction included true rarities among the crossbows for sale, some even of royal provenance. One exceptionally striking piece was a seemingly archaic, late Gothic crossbow covered in vellum, the tiller entirely covered in bone inlays, with a sturdy prod made of horn and animal sinew. Produced circa 1500, the hunting crossbow even retained the original prod anchors made of hemp cords. The German bow sold for 16,000 euros. A deluxe pistol crossbow, circa 1760, went for 13,000 euros. Measuring a mere 37 centimeters, yet elaborate with rich inlays, engraved depictions of flora and fauna, and adorned with gilt brass fittings, the remarkable combination weapon was supported on the operator’s hand to fire. From the prestigious Collection of the Royal House of Hanover was a Renaissance crossbow, which was built in Germany towards the end of the 16th century; it sold for its minimum bid of 7,500 euros.
Asia, Orient and Africa
The range of lots from Africa, the Ottoman Empire, India, Japan and China was dominated by objects from the Middle Kingdom. The demand for Chinese archer’s rings remained as high as ever. Barely a single lot remained unsold and the section reported significant price increases. A case in point: a group of eight archer’s rings of jade and agate, some lavishly decorated, from the Qing dynasty fetched a respectable 12,500 euros, dwarfing their limit of 2,000 euros. A ritual object frequently described as a badge of rank, a cong from the Han period also enjoyed great popularity. Open to bids from 1,500 euros, the cong obtained an impressive final price of 6,600 euros. Originally from the estate of a noble German family, a Chinese golden presentation ring was offered for auction for 2,500 euros and acquired for 4,200 euros. Legend has it that the ring was presented to Emperor William II by Zaifeng, also called Prince Chun II, the father of the last Chinese emperor, on the occasion of his diplomatic visit to Berlin in 1901. Once again, the elaborately and gorgeously crafted edged weapons from India were well received, like a large, 19th century karud with floral ornamentation inlaid in gold; a barrage of bids saw the starting price jump from 3,500 euros to 5,200 euros.
Military history and historical objects
With a hammer price of 10,500 euros, a telescope with three extension tubes from the personal property of Emperor Napoleon I (1769 – 1821) surpassed its estimate of 500 euros twenty-one times over. The French emperor is known to have used the telescope, manufactured circa 1810 by “Utzschneider u. Fraunhofer in München” and still fully functional today, during his stay in Dresden in 1813. Other artifacts from France’s turbulent history at the dawn of the 19th century also came under the hammer, including a sabre and two helmets belonging to the legendary musketeers. The Mousquetaires gris de la Maison du Roi formed the first company of royal guards; their duty was to accompany the monarch on his travels. They earned the sobriquet gris in reference to the fact that the musketeers only rode silver grey horses, whereas the second company of the guard were popularly known as noirs, serving on black horses. Also offered for auction – from 4,000 euros – was a sabre from the armory of the grey musketeers, forged by the Weyersberg brothers of Solingen circa 1814/15 during the Bourbon Restoration. The new owner had to part with 5,000 euros for the rare and valuable weapon. Moreover, a helmet from each of the companies completed the set from the same period. As befitted its tremendous opulence – a silver-plated copper skull, cross, flame and fleurs de lys motifs and horsehair trim – the exceedingly rare helmet for enlisted men of the Mousquetaires gris had a reserve of 9,500 euros; spirited bidding drove the final price up to 12,500 euros. In contrast, the helmet for enlisted men of the Mousquetaires noirs was considerably more modest; nevertheless, it fetched an encouraging 11,500 euros, its limit of 7,500 euros notwithstanding. A deluxe lion’s head sabre from the time of the Consulate circa 1800, whose elaborate design, with etchings, gilding, almost continuous bluing and lion’s head pommel, indicated that it belonged to a highly decorated military bearer, was warmly received; although valued at 6,000 euros, the sale was completed at 6,900 euros.
Magnificently designed helmets and uniforms bore testimony to the historical pomp and circumstance of the military and underlined its prominent standing in society. One wonderfully vivid example was the helmet M 1852 for enlisted men and non-commissioned officers of the Royal Bavarian Hartschiere Life Guards, starting at 7,000 euros. The imposing helmet – the grand ceremonial issue – had a nickel-silver skull crowned with a rampant parade lion, appliquéd with the large Bavarian coat of arms surmounted by a crown; an enthusiast could not resist placing the winning bid of 8,600 euros. Objects from the Bavarian Royal Court again enjoyed the collectors’ highest esteem, among them a personal seal belonging to King Ludwig II of Bavaria (1845 – 1886). Sculpted in the form of the muse Melpomene in bronze, with gold and silver plating, by the famous Art Nouveau artist Louis Kley (1833-1911) of France, this symbolic bijou had a reserve of 4,500 euros. The hammer price of 6,300 euros was testimony of its obvious appeal. The same sum was ultimately paid for a glass vinaigrette from his private chambers, with silver fittings and a finely polished monogram “L” beneath the Bavarian royal crown, which was listed at 1,600 euros. Two garments from the wardrobe of his cousin, the Empress Elisabeth of Austria (1837 – 1898), a source of admiration even during her lifetime, were also sought after. Bids were welcomed from 2,500 euros each for an ermine muff and an ermine stole, both lined in silk and embroidered with the Empress’ monogram and crown. As both garments were acquired by museums, the muff for 4,600 euros and the stole for 3,200 euros, they will go on public display in the near future.
Dating from the modern era of American history, the Gold Life Saving Medal and other awards that were presented to Captain Harry Manning (1897 – 1974) for rescuing the crew of the ‘Florida’ in 1929 sold for the asking price of 7,500 euros. A German immigrant, Manning soon built up a civil maritime career on completing his training; he was engaged on the basis of his reputation by the legendary pilot Amelia Earhart (1897 – 1937) as a navigator during her flight around the world. A number of famous names and unrivaled historical artifacts from their manufacture headed the procession of Russian military objects. A distinguished, engraved percussion pistol from the workshop of the prominent gunsmith, master Nikolay Ivanovitch Goltiakov (1815 – 1910), came under the hammer for 23,000 euros and sold for its minimum bid. Produced in Tula circa 1880, with a gold-inlaid signature and decorative floral tendrils, it attested to the striking and exquisitely fine workmanship for which the purveyor to the royal court had garnered the greatest accolades, even during his earliest creative period. Etched and partially gilt, with an appliquéd miniature of the Order of St. Anne, awarded for bravery, an extremely rare shashka M 1881/1910 for officers of the Russian Cossacks fired bidders’ enthusiasm, sending the price soaring from 8,000 euros to 21,000 euros. Another Russian edged weapon, a sword dated 1741 for officers of the infantry, bearing a Cyrillic inscription “Vivat Anna the Great”, found a new owner for 10,500 euros, 1,000 euros above its limit.
Orders and Insignia
Among the Orders and Insignia, the first class artifacts from the Soviet Union’s military system of awards repeatedly resulted in exchanges of bids lasting several minutes. Some exceptionally rare pieces sparked veritable bidding wars, like the gold and silverOrder of Bogdan Khmelnitsky Second Class, bearing the number “1152”, which was awarded from 1943; despite opening at 5,000 euros, the lively bidding saw it more than triple this sum at 16,000 euros. Bids were invited from 6,000 euros for the partially enamelled Order of Suvorov Second Class, also worked in gold and silver and awarded from 1943, with the wearer number “1593” engraved on the back. The order was finally snapped up for 9,500 euros. The hammer fell at 11,000 euros for its companion piece, stamped with the wearer number “1816”and originally valued at 7,000 euros, while the Order of Kutuzov Third Class, also awarded from 1943, more than doubled its asking price of 4,800 euros with a gratifying result of 10,000 euros.
An order cross of the Order of the Red Eagle from the German estate of the Count of Asseburg, exquisitely wrought in gold in the Third Class version awarded in 1810, set off a flurry of excitement. The immaculate condition of the unique piece did not escape buyers’ notice and it now embellishes a new collection for 13,000 euros, its starting price of 4,000 euros notwithstanding. Moreover, avid collectors had been eagerly anticipating the sale of the complete orders estate belonging to Krupp Director Carl Menshausen (1847 – 1909). Besides the orders themselves, the significant collection included numerous corresponding award documents. Every lot in this group was sold, including the pièce de résistance: the eight-rayed breast star of the Imperial Chinese Order of the Double Dragon, Star of the Second Class, Grade 3, which may be regarded as museum quality. Listed at 3,000 euros, it ultimately changed hands for 8,900 euros. It was awarded in 1896 by Viceroy Li Hong-Zhang (1823 – 1901), who had taken the opportunity to intensify China’s contacts with representatives of industry during his diplomatic visit.
All prices are net prices and are to be understood plus 23 percent surcharge.
About Hermann Historica
Hermann Historica oHG, Munich, is one of the world’s leading auction houses in the special areas: antique arms and armours, hunting collectibles, antiquities, orders as well as objects from history and military history. Founded as early as almost 50 years ago by Count Erich Klenau von Klenova, Baron von Janowitz in Nuremberg as an auction house for coins, from the very beginning also orders and decorations as well as objects of military history were put up to auction. In the early seventies the range of the auctions was broadened by the category of “antique arms and armour”. The wide range was soon accepted by international collectors and museums. In 1982 the present owners renamed the auction house Hermann Historica oHG, and at least two auctions are conducted annually which address more than 40,000 clients worldwide. Particularly sensational are the numerous objects from the possessions of noble houses, notably those of the German and Austrian imperial family, which continue to attract international attention, the auctions dispersing complete collections such as the sale of the hunting treasures of Castle Fuschl in Salzburg, as well as the much-noticed sale of the unique collection Karsten Klingbeil of ”Arms and Armour” and the “Collection of Antique Greek and Roman Arms” of Axel Guttmann, the liquidation of the Nümbrecht Museum of Historical Technology, the worldwide biggest auctions of “Children’s Dreams on Wheels”, the pedal cars of the Centre of Extraordinary Museums in Munich.www.hermann-historica.com
All Pictures: Copyright Hermann Historica oHG 2016
HP = Hammer Price