Munich – This year's large Spring Auction at Hermann Historica GmbH will take place in Munich from May 20-24, 2019. In addition to armor, helmets or artifacts of royal and imperial provenance, the program showcases approximately 3650 lots from all periods and regions.
Five centuries of antique and modern firearms
A pair of small cannons dated 1707, which came from Wehrden Castle in Westphalia, will be up for sale. Next to the date, a raised, combined coat of arms of "von Metternich" and "von der Horst" is cast in the stepped bronze barrels with rich band structure, reinforced muzzles and handles in the form of stylized dolphins. The noble family built the castle and still owns it to this day. Bids from 18,000 euros are invited for these original cannons, their barrels measuring 59 centimeters, mounted on an oak carriage. Fascinating in both aesthetic and technical terms, the catalog includes pieces that collectors may otherwise only dream of, such as an unusually large, etched, all-metal wheellock pistol from Nuremberg measuring 52.5 centimeters, circa 1570/80, its stock lavishly embellished with finely etched birds surrounded by leafy vines, which is tendered for sale from 25,000 euros. Buyers will also be interested in a pair of flintlock pistols with brass barrels, dated 1660, from the Zurich workshop of Felix Werder (1591 – 1673); having learned the trades of both gunmaker and goldsmith, he combined both skills in his highly esteemed works. His signature style was creating pistols with characteristic hammered, thin brass barrels, elaborately engraved and resplendent in gilt, earning him the highest reputation and recognition as one of the most famous gunsmiths of all time. The pair now up for auction, a shining example of his prowess, will cost their new owner a minimum of 30,000 euros. By contrast, opening at 28,000 euros, a pair of deluxe rifles with chemical locks, produced and tested circa 1820 by Joseph Reisinger of Wels, is guaranteed to spark discussion due to their extremely unusual firing system that was highly innovative for the time.
The modern arms section hosts other coveted items, like a sensational R.B. Rodda & Co top-hammer double rifle, made circa 1885, which boasts the manufacturer's mark on the left barrel and the inscription "H. R. H. The Duke of Edinburgh. London & Calcutta" on the right barrel, both inlaid in gold. This singular piece, with ornaments on every fitting, starts at 22,500 euros. Also seldom found on the market is a Reichsrevolver Model 1883, a prototype or test version of the Königlich Preußische Inspektion der Gewehrfabrik. Without markings, acceptance mark, factory mark or serial number of any kind, the weapon is expected to fetch 12,000 euros. Next up, an oversized demonstration model of a Browning Automatic Rifle M 1918 A 2 on a scale of 2:1 is valued at 10,000 euros. Stamped "Department of the Navy", the model was used for training purposes to illustrate the mechanism and functioning of the weapon.
From time immemorial, a military career has been a source of aspiration in every profession, with combat both an honor and a duty that engenders pride for ruler and citizens alike. Even in the ancient world, serving members of the armies enjoyed a high social standing. Accordingly, no effort was spared in protecting the highly trained warriors of antiquity and the early armorers dedicated their entire range of skills to creating helmets and breastplates with exquisite workmanship.
Particular emphasis was placed on the elaborate helmets, which were designed not only to shield the wearer from the blows and thrusts of enemy swords and highlight his status, but also to clearly identify which unit he belonged to. The 79th Auction includes some extraordinary rarities among the well preserved, early bronze helmets crafted by the highly skilled smiths of yesteryear. One such, a broad Chalcidian helmet dating from the early fourth century, is certain to ennoble a new collection by virtue of its full-faced tin plating and outstanding condition. The contoured ribs in repoussé on the apertures for the ears and eyes, the lancet-shaped nose guard, the cheek pieces and the horizontal neck guard identify this helmet as an exponent of a regional variation in the late Chalcidian helmets, which were forged in the northern Black Sea area. The helmet is expected to fetch 18,000 euros. Without a doubt, the design of a Pseudo-Chalcidian helmet from the same region and period, in impressive condition and sporting a beautiful patina – in short, a magnificent specimen of an antique helmet – reflects the above mentioned Greek type as the model for its adaptation by steppe nomads. The high skull is divided into two lobes, connected with rivets at the seam. Moreover, the helmet is embellished with an engraved line of zigzags and peaks, along with a border of chased linear ornaments. Here again, bids from 18,000 euros are welcome for this unusual piece. Meanwhile, a comparable, equestrian nomadic helmet from the Sarmatian epoch is estimated at 15,000 euros. Dating from around the birth of Christ, a Roman bronze helmet of the Buggenum type completes the range in this section. As tool marks show, it was made on a lathe; furnished with perforations for the cheek pieces and topped with a short knob to insert the crest, the infantry helmet is completely undamaged and in original condition. Bidding starts at 15,000 euros for this unique lot.
Equally worthy of note is a Roman marble relief, which is to come under the hammer for 19,500 euros. The fragment of a third century sarcophagus eloquently reveals the identity of the deceased. Despite passing away at a relatively young age, he appears to have carved out a successful career as a food wholesaler, amassing a certain wealth in the process, which allowed him to be buried in an elaborate, figuratively decorated marble sarcophagus. Furthermore, opening at 9,000 euros, the catalog also lists an example of Viking silversmith craftsmanship from the tenth century, as attractive as it is rare. The captivating, highly effective pendant is hollow wrought in sheet silver in the shape of a bird, lavishly adorned with filigree and granulation, bedecked with interlaced bands.
Works of art
According to tradition, the arms and armor catalog opens with opulent works crafted by the most highly skilled artisans of all. Creating the most excitement here are caskets and coffers that were used to protect goods and chattels, featuring exceptionally sophisticated mechanisms and their very own style, all manufactured with the greatest of care. Dating from the 16th/17th century, a large coachman's strongbox from Germany is secured with no less than four padlocks, an intricate hidden mechanism and three latches. Made of heavy sheet iron in the shape of a fortified tower, with sturdy, forge-welded strap reinforcements, the valuables that were stored in the sixty-centimeter tall casket were perfectly safe. The new owner will have to part with a minimum of 7,000 euros for this protection. A large, Italian strongbox with rivets from the late 18th century is offered for auction from 6,000 euros. Standing a remarkable 123 centimeters tall, the wooden body is reinforced with riveted bands, arranged crosswise, and locked by means of secret mechanisms. By contrast, with its lavishly inlaid handle, a serving knife, or présentoir, was designed as an embellishment of everyday life rather than self-defense: at court feasts, it formed part of the ceremony of serving game. Crafted during the Maximilian Age, the first half of the 16th century, and set with fine inlays of bone and wood, the knife is now open to bids from 4,800 euros. Of slightly later date comes an engaging portrait of a young lady, decked out in a lace bonnet and ruff, by the noted Flemish portrait painter, Frans II Pourbus (1569 – 1622). Depicting a young woman in a dignified pose, with one hand resting on a chair, a leather pouch in the other, the three-quarter length portrait has an asking price of 9,000 euros.
Arms and Armor
Both in terms of numbers and quality, the array of outstanding helmets and armor from the workshops of mediaeval and early modern blacksmiths will not disappoint. A much sought-after prize is now on offer: an extremely rare Milanese barbute from 1460. During the Renaissance, the deep admiration of antiquity found expression in every aspect of everyday life. Thus, the design of defensive arms was also modeled on the ideals of ancient times. The Corinthian helmets were accorded a special significance in this regard as they were considered the most imposing of the ancient world and replicated accordingly. At first glance barely distinguishable from its antique, Corinthian archetype, the helmet boasts exceptionally elegant lines and proportions, giving it an archaic, sleek appearance. With very few comparable helmets documented in prestigious collections, such as the Wallace Collection in London and the Armeria Reale in Turin, the rare barbute, forged in one piece with a pronounced medial ridge, is sure to coax an enthusiast into investing 45,000 euros. Next up, skillfully decorated all over, is an etched, gilt morion from the golden age of the celebrated trabant guard of Christian I, Elector of Saxony (1560 – 1591), which was produced in Nuremberg at the end of the 16th century. Portraits of the Roman heroes Mucius Scaevola and Marcus Curtius, each in an etched, gilt cartouche, adorn both sides of the iron skull, the Saxon coat of arms on the roped comb indicates the place of deployment and a border of three-dimensional lion's head rivets marches along the lower edge. Bids from 35,000 euros are now invited for this magnificent, remarkably graceful piece, whose shape is highly characteristic.
The armorers' works invariably meet the highest standards of functionality and beauty: in this case, an exquisite, homogeneous suit of cuirassier's armor in quality befitting an officer, dating from the early 17th century, shortly before the outbreak of the Thirty Years' War, demonstrates that every element of the composition is also utilitarian. All pieces of the complete suit of blackened armor, comprising a heavy, bullet-proof breastplate with shot strike marks and a matching backplate, articulated arm defenses and cuisses, gorget, neck guard and gauntlets with finger guards, are furnished with turned, partially roped flanges to deflect attacks and fastened with brass-plated rivets. Combined with the striking contrast between the blackened surfaces and the finely polished edges, the suit is an absolute showstopper. Valued at 30,000 euros, the original suit of armor is topped with a blackened close helmet with a pivoted peak and visor, the edges of the sight slits struck inwards; the ventilation holes, arranged in rosettes on both sides, and a mouth slit ensured that the wearer received an adequate supply of breathing air.
The catalog lists another lot of extraordinary academic interest that warrants closer examination and consideration, namely several parts of an extremely early, rare chamfron. Manufactured in the Duchy of Styria in the 13th/14th century, with several pieces hinged together, the chamfron is of a type hitherto unknown. Highly unusual for defensive arms, the chamfron is partially, fire-gilt copper, while the front is adorned with punched figurative and ornamental décor, a shield of gules a fess argent in red enamel and a chiseled Styrian lion. Virtually every sophisticated, artisanal metal technique has been used to embellish this horse armor, which was evidently made for use at court. Presumably originally attached to a leather backing, the chamfron is expected to fetch 10,000 euros.
Thanks to its excellent design and notable provenance, a significant German deluxe rapier, circa 1620, is certain to be well received. While the elegant blade is struck with the inscription "IN VIVI" on both sides, the ricasso is cut with triple fullers and expertly engraved with raised floral decoration, inlaid in silver. This challenging technique was also used on the guard ring, which is decorated with figures and leafy vines, and still bears remnants of fire gilding on a finely stippled background, and on the pommel, its décor in half relief, inlaid in silver and gilt copper. Truly a work of art and a classic example among the early modern edged weapons, documented for many years as part of the famous von Schulthess Collection, its brilliance will fire buyers' enthusiasm, tempting bids of at least 45,000 euros. Collectors will also be interested in the exclusive selection of mediaeval swords, only very few examples of which are preserved in prominent, old collections in Europe. These include a huge processional sword from Switzerland or South Germany, measuring 203 centimeters in length, with a limit of 15,000 euros. Forged circa 1500, all parts of the sword are in original condition, including the leather guard. Although suitable for use in combat, these oversized swords were ceremonial, for presentation at parades and processions. The parade of exceptional lots continues with a significant South German two-hand sword, circa 1580, in absolutely untouched, arsenal-maintained condition, now estimated at 12,000 euros. Unusually, even the leather cover and the blackening of the mediaeval edged weapon, struck with a smith's mark, are completely intact.
Africa, Orient and Asia
As in previous auctions, the lots from Africa, the Ottoman Empire, India, Japan and China offer a line-up of breathtaking pieces. These range from entire suits of armor, like the chiseled Persian set, inlaid in gold and comprising helmet, shield and forearm guard, from the first half of the 19th century, starting at 12,000 euros, to awe-inspiring edged weapons, richly finished with gemstones and precious metals to accentuate the high status of their bearer. Highlights include an Ottoman silver-mounted, gold-inlaid deluxe kilij with hangers, circa 1808, with chiseled, gold-inlaid cartouches and leafy vines, the grip with rhinoceros horn scales, offered for sale in all its glory from 25,000 euros, or a set of two kards, also inlaid in gold, the grip scales carved in walrus ivory, with a matching scabbard, which were made in Persia circa 1800 and may be acquired for 15,000 euros. The demand for gold-inlaid, silver-mounted firearm pieces from South East Europe in particular have remained unabated for many years. By way of example, a pair of 19th century pistols from Greece, their partially nielloed stocks in heavy, gilt silver featuring profuse, ornamental carvings in relief and their triggers both in the shape of a seated figure wearing a turban, is moderately valued at 15,000 euros.
Among the fascinating lots from China is a chess set carved in light-colored and dark-red stained ivory, destined to take pride of place in a new collection for 8,000 euros. All wearing traditional Chinese costume and holding different insignia in their hands, the figures are carved in extraordinary detail and placed on different sized magic balls, decorated with openwork. Of much earlier date, from the Qin Dynasty in the third century B.C., the Chinese bronze bell (zhong) displays the most superior metal craftsmanship with its ornamental gold plating. Opening at 7,800 euros, the bulbous ritual bell is adorned with three rows of studs, while the same price is requested for a more recent, larger-than-life, Chinese stone head of a Bodhisattva, from the Qi dynasty, between 479 and 502 B.C.
Military history and historical objects
Once again, the military history and historical objects section is a veritable treasure trove of enthralling collectors' items from all over the world. Dating from the reign of the first King of Bavaria, Maximilian I Joseph (1756 – 1825), pieces reflecting military history are certain to attract attention, including a helmet M 1818 for officers of the Chevaulegers. The combination of the high, black leather skull with fire-gilt brass fittings, the large, gleaming white feather plume and characteristic, oversized bearskin crest lent the wearer a much more imposing appearance and air of authority. It was only later that practical considerations prevailed, significantly reducing both the height of the helmet and the fur trim. Only very few of this thoroughly extravagant type of helmet are known to still be in existence worldwide, of which a much smaller number are in such virtually pristine, original condition. With a reserve of 19,000 euros, the starting price takes account of all these aspects. The next object is no less desirable: the personal parade tunic belonging to Ernst I, Duke of Saxe-Altenburg (1826 – 1908), part of his Saxon general’s uniform from 1905. Made of the finest dark blue cloth, the collar and cuffs trimmed in red, the tunic is elaborately embroidered with the special gold thread reserved for Saxon generals and bedecked with heavy gold general’s braid, a parade lanyard, looped shoulder boards and gilt general’s buttons. Estimated at 11,000 euros, the breast of the tunic is fitted with loops for the large orders clasp and an impressive six breast stars. This bears further testimony to the uncommonly long reign and glittering military career of the wearer, who ruled over his country for more than half a century from 1853 to 1908.
Moreover, offers from 6,500 euros are welcome for a guard sword with a Damascus steel blade, which was presented to Hilmar Freiherr von Minnigerode by Infantry General Friedrich Wilhelm von Chappuis in 1906. The straight blade features delicate etchings of blossoms and leafy vines, while the names of the giver and recipient are inscribed on the obverse in gold letters, outlined in black. Also of great historical interest is a handwritten letter, signed by Generalfeldmarschall Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher (1742 – 1819) and addressed to his former aide-de-camp, Friedrich von Bonin in 1800, which has a guide price of 2,000 euros.
In addition, a French drum for a grenadier regiment from the reign of Ludwig XV (1712 – 1774), bearing a German inscription dated 1762, is listed in the catalogue at 12,000 euros. Presumably, this is a Prussian drum, part of the spoils from the Seven Years' War. The crowned coat of arms of the House of Bourbon graces the brass body, flanked by garnets, flags, trophies and two angels blowing trumpets. Once again, the rare edged weapons of formidable provenance from Russia are sure to delight buyers in the 79th Auction. One such is the 1896/98 Cossack shashka for officers from the prestigious "Zlatoust Arms Factory", as stated in the cartouche next to the date on the blade, which comes from the estate of the highly decorated Infantry General Vladimir Olokhov (1857 – 1920) and may now be acquired for 4,000 euros.
Once again, there is a wide range of artifacts from the personal possessions of European sovereigns, Opening at 8,000 euros and promising enormous potential is a miniature portrait of Tsar Nicholas II (1868 – 1918) on ivory in a gold frame, probably Fabergé, by the skillful miniaturist Johannes Zehngraf (1857 – 1908). Dated 1898, it depicts the Tsar in Russian military uniform with numerous orders and medals and was presented by the very same as a personal gift; by all accounts, the recipient was Franz I, Prince of Liechtenstein (1853 – 1938). Without a doubt, the ornate gold presentation box belonging to Augustus I, Grand Duke of Oldenburg (1783 – 1853) is a genuine showpiece. In outstanding jeweler's quality, this bijou exhibits the most masterly craftsmanship in precious metals, stones and enamel. The lid features the monogram "A" in an extended oval medallion below a grand ducal crown, the whole surrounded by delicately raised and chased flowers and leafy vines. Bidding starts from 19,000 euros for this prize, as gorgeous as it is sumptuous. In recent years, the consignments from the sophisticated wardrobe of Empress Elisabeth of Austria have invariably generated enormous interest – and gratifying results. Therefore, the selected garments and accessories, made of the most opulent materials, some purchased in Paris, are guaranteed to be fiercely contested. They include a summer hat trimmed with white ostrich feathers, estimated at 6,500 euros, the bolero jacket of a summer dress for 7,500 euros and a long, lace skirt with a short train, worn during her period of mourning after 1889, set to change hands for 8,500 euros.
Orders and Insignia
It is again our great pleasure to present an exclusive variety of orders and insignia at the Spring Auction, some of which are unique and may be regarded as museum quality. The superb decorations from the Soviet Union are the main attraction among the 134 lots in this section, including the Order of St. Anna with Swords, dated 1910. Enameled in translucent red on an intricately engraved gold background will enhance a new collection from 10,000 euros. No less noteworthy, the ensemble of the Order of St. Stanislaus, 1st Class with Swords, produced circa 1870 by Julius Keibel of St. Petersburg, has the same asking price. The other absolute rarities consist of the Gold Star medal of the Hero of the Mongolian People's Republic, awarded from 1945, with a reserve of 12,000 euros, and a 1st Class order set of the Most Illustrious Order of Chula Chom Klao from Thailand, beautifully enameled with elephants and awarded unchanged since 1873, destined to coax an enthusiast into investing at least 8,500 euros. German orders, such as an embroidered breast star from the Electoral Order of the Palatine Lion, which was awarded in Bavaria from the second half of the 18th century, listed at 5,000 euros, and the first model of the Prussian Order of the Crown, 3rd Class with Swords on an orders clasp, for 4,000 euros, round off the lots in this section.
Hermann Historica struck out in a new direction at the beginning of April with the launch of its very first online auction. This concept proved to be enormously successful. The auction house reported excellent sales quotas and gratifying price increases, with the format opening up a whole new demographic of buyers. The next online-only auction takes place from June 4-7, 2019, with more than 2500 objects from the fields of firearms, antiquities, old arms and armor, orders, and military collectibles, contemporary history (incl. Winterhilfswerk).
- Live auction: 20 – 24 May 2019
- Online auction: 4 – 7 June 2019
About Hermann Historica
Hermann Historica GmbH, Munich, is one of the world's leading auction houses in the special areas: antique arms and armors, 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 armor”. The wide range was soon accepted by international collectors and museums. In 1982 the present owners renamed the auction house Hermann Historica GmbH, and at least two auctions are conducted annually which address more than 40,000 clients worldwide. www.hermann-historica.com.