Munich – From November 5-23, this year's Autumn Auction at Hermann Historica GmbH promises buyers the usual wide range of high quality, precious objects from numerous eras and from every corner of the globe. Approximately 7,600 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
Following the endowment from the collector Henk Visser, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam probably boasts the most important exhibition of these remarkable antique firearms in the world today, with very few examples finding their way into private collections. Ivory-stocked weapons are among the rarest pieces to be offered on the market. Lot 169, produced circa 1690, is a pair of Dutch flintlock pistols featuring full stocks made of intricately carved, brass-mounted ivory, the pommels sculptured as highly detailed Turks' heads, their hair trailing down into lion head mascarons. A minimum bid of 60,000 euros will secure these deluxe pistols, whose lock plates are engraved with decorative tendrils and the signature 'Pomponie', while the cocks are elaborately adorned with distinguished chiseled, engraved décor. A noteworthy Spanish percussion flintlock was probably commissioned in the middle of the 19th century by a member of the Spanish royal family. Richly decorated with gold damascening on a repousséd ground, depicting hunter and hounds amidst fine scrolling foliage, the cock fully sculptured in the form of Hercules with the lion and a finely grained walnut half stock with richly chiseled and gold-damascened furniture: virtually every artisanal technique of the time has been employed to ultimate perfection in embellishing this flintlock, which may be acquired from 20,000 euros.
In the modern arms section, the announcement that the Johann Lux collection was to be auctioned this autumn caused a flurry of excitement among specialist buyers. Hermann Historica has been accorded the honor of passing on to proud new owners this highly esteemed, well-known collection of service weapons issued to the armed forces and police all over the world, which was compiled with enormous zeal and expertise over 60 years of dedication. The special catalog contains more than 800 lots, including rare examples from the history of weapons development, such as a first-issue Mauser Model 1878, also known as the 'zig-zag revolver', for which offers from 19,000 euros are welcome; a well-preserved Borchardt C 93 as used by the Chilean financial police, complete with shoulder stock and bag, listed at 18,000 euros, or a Reichsrevolver Model 1883, a prototype or test version of the Königlich Preußische Inspektion der Gewehrfabrik, which is expected to fetch 15,000 euros.
Produced circa 1885, a R.B. Rodda & Co top-hammer double rifle 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, will prove a gratifying addition to any collection for 25,000 euros. Likewise sought-after is a factory-engraved Colt Model 1849 Pocket, tendered for sale with the matching case. A very unusual Colt from the production period between 1852 and 1860, whose company name and patent data have been hand-engraved. Exceptionally well preserved and in untouched condition, the classic Colt revolver has a guide price of 8,500 euros.
Since time immemorial, man's instinctive desire to catalog, regulate and understand the world has been one of humanity's driving forces. Weights and measures prepared the way for scientific discovery in this endeavor by enabling documentation and comparison, serving both as a classification system and orientation; consequently, they laid the foundation for asserting claims to power and gave rise to administrative standards. An unrivaled late Roman measuring cup, or sextarius, its inscription revealing its origins during the years 402 – 408 A.D., is evidence that this system was well established prior to the publication of "Measuring the World", the story of Johann Carl Friedrich Gauß (1777 – 1855) and Alexander von Humboldt (1769 – 1859). As stylized busts, the portraits of no fewer than three Roman emperors crowned with diadems embellish the handle of the virtually cylindrical vessel. Gazing over the rim, they appear to be monitoring the measurement of the contents. According to the continuous inscription, the portraits show the three emperors Arcadius, Honorius and Theodosius II, the son of Arcadius. The geographical origin is in the Eastern Roman Empire. The signs of wear and tear and the shape of the antique artifact, like the thickness of the walls, the slight widening at the opening and the camber of the base, indicate a secondary use as a mortar over many years. An extremely interesting, museum-quality piece, whose outstanding condition, the fact that its exact age can be determined, the inscription stating the province and the depiction of contemporary rulers all invite further academic study. This significant monument to the metrology and administrative history of late antiquity is open to bids from 8,000 euros.
The parade of exceptional lots continues with an absolute rarity, namely two elements of a magnificent East Celtic belt, which is attributed to the middle of the first century B.C. Decorated with silver plating, the belt is of Laminci A type, Jarak group, and is highly unusual, featuring the figurative representation of a rider. An exquisite Balkan engraved work dating from the late Latène period, the style and technique of which bear a certain resemblance to design elements on the well-known, late Celtic Gundestrup cauldron, it is expected to fetch at least 25,000 euros. Moreover, a Roman, almost life-size head of Apollo, artfully conceived and finely carved in marble with superb workmanship, is certain to meet with buyers' approval. Dating from the first to second century A.D., the masterpiece will soon take pride of place in a new collection from 15,000 euros. Four fabulous and well preserved Late Bronze Age swords are being offered for auction, with guide prices ranging from 2,500 euros to 8,000 euros.
Works of art
Continuing the theme of metrology, a great deal more recent yet no less interesting, is a collection of unusual measuring devices with a focus on 19th century brass instruments. A group of approximately 85 precision artworks that have been intricately worked with fascinating accuracy and aesthetics by prestigious manufacturers, such as Stanley, C. Collins, Troughton & Simms, all of London, or Fraunhofer, Munich, will come under the hammer. A dazzling array of rare objects are being tendered for sale, from microscopes to theodolites, right through to globes and sextants. The exceptionally striking theodolites, crafted in brass, glass and nickel, with a swiveling telescope, reflectors and lenses, would not merely grace every specialized collection, but would also add distinction to any aesthetic environment as decoration, far removed from their function. With bids starting at just 150 euros, this is an ideal opportunity for first-time buyers, young collectors and aficionados of attractive precision mechanics to acquire a prize.
On the other hand, with an asking price of 12,000 euros, a significant, mid-17th century baroque tapestry from Flanders looks set to coax an enthusiast into parting with a much larger sum. Sewn with knitted wool and silk, the colors still remarkably vibrant, the tapestry hung in Castle Schwerinsburg in Pomerania, which was built in 1720, for many years. Measuring an impressive twelve square meters, it features a multi-figured scene, with David vanquishing Goliath. Rare Kunstkammer objects round off the lots in this section, including a singular, baroque artifact, made circa 1700: a German, artistically turned goblet of rhinoceros horn, standing some 19 centimeters tall, which now has a reserve of 4,500 euros. Equally worthy of note is a gilt miniature casket from the celebrated workshop of Michael Mann, which was created by skillful hands in Nuremberg around 100 years earlier. All outer surfaces are embellished with characteristic, fine engraved décor, while the lid and sides depict figures in contemporary costume and the base sports a leaping doe surrounded by trees. Offers of at least 7,500 euros are now welcome for the elaborate, dainty bijou, measuring 4 x 7.3 x 5 centimeters.
Arms and Armor
Both in terms of quality and numbers, the selection of outstanding armor in the Autumn Auction will not disappoint. The armor produced by mediaeval and early modern blacksmiths was not merely designed as a protective and ornate covering, but also as an imposing status symbol; therefore, their work invariably reflects the highest standards of functional reliability and aesthetics. To this day, these protective coverings bear testimony to an incomparable craftsmanship; not only do they create a certain excitement as design objects, but their carefully considered forms and the myriad of artisanal techniques that were employed command our admiration.
One particularly imposing piece is a late 15th century, Gothic full armor for the field in the 'Innsbruck fashion', which is documented for the renowned Klingbeil Collection of Berlin. With the original visored sallet and a rare, early coat of mail in almost undamaged condition, its completeness and state of preservation will doubtless appeal to bidders. The unmistakable simplicity of the armor's design, namely the complete absence of Gothic 'fluting', is regarded as a characteristic feature of the Innsbruck school in the second half of the 15th century. Equally decorative and interesting from a specialist perspective, the elegant armor is open to bids from 60,000 euros. By contrast, a composite Milanese armor for the field from 1570/80 is lavishly etched with delicate trophy decoration. Complete with its close helmet, and with numerous parts sliding on lames and embellished with flanges to ensure the best possible protection and comfort of the wearer, this is an exceptionally attractive suit of armor. This fantastic individual object, whose refined appearance alone has caused significant ripples of excitement, not just in expert circles, is now estimated at 40,000 euros. Next up is another Milanese half armor with a morion, also adorned with elaborate etchings and forged circa 1580/90. The etched city gate on the breastplate is the signature of a prestigious armorer's workshop that received commissions from numerous royal houses in Europe and still enjoys the highest reputation under the name of "Master of the Castle". The quality of the work was comparable with the famous "Pompeo della Chiesa" workshop. To this day, examples of this outstanding armorer's skill can be found in the most important collections and museums around the world. This magnificent ensemble, with images of antique, mythical figures amidst scrolling bands and trophy decoration on the helmet and a depiction of Mars between finely etched trophies on the breastplate, even graced such eminent collections as that of Victor Bacherau of Paris and the Dr. Bashford Dean collection in Riverdale, New York: it can once again take pride of place for 18,000 euros.
Only optimal conditions ensure the preservation of wooden and leather objects over the centuries. Therefore the excellent condition of an archer's pavise from Winterthur, made in Switzerland circa 1450, is all the more impressive. The upright oblong shield is entirely covered in linen, painted in color on the front to display the arms of the city of Winterthur – two rampant red lions with bend on a white field – and the arms of the League of St. George. The sensational shield, a similar example of which is documented in the Historical Museum of Bern, now has a limit of 8,000 euros. Extremely unusual and so beyond compare that they are as yet undocumented, even in reference works, is a pair of courtly, chiseled and gilt stirrups by the celebrated Munich steel-chiseler, Caspar Spät from the mid-17th century. The side arms of both stirrups are lavishly adorned with bunches of fruit and trophy bundles, chiseled en suite, with gold inlays on all surfaces. As a final flourish, semi-circular mascarons are chiseled into the upper strap loops of the unique deluxe stirrups, whose new owner will have to part with 20,000 euros. This autumn sees another superb selection of edged weapons and sought-after lots, such as a German horseman’s axe, circa 1580, also beautifully crafted and intricately engraved with a richly chiseled base, which is listed in the catalog at 8,000 euros.
Asia, Orient and Africa
As in previous years, the lots from Africa, the Ottoman Empire, India, Japan and China showcase an assemblage of splendid, eye-catching works, wrought with craftsmanship every bit as sumptuous as the materials used. 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 15,000 euros, to awe-inspiring edged weapons, richly garnished with gemstones and precious metals to accentuate the high status of their bearer. Bids are therefore invited from 7,000 euros for an Ottoman, silver-mounted shamshir, circa 1800, partially gilt, with rhinoceros horn grip plates and matching scabbard, while a spectacularly jeweled, silver-mounted presentation sabre from India, bearing the imperial crown and profusely set with innumerable rubies, turquoises, pearls and rhinestones, is listed at 12,000 euros. Produced during the reign of King Edward VII, Emperor of India, at the turn of the 20th century, it was presented to a German business man by the Emir of Sharjah during the 1960s. Moreover, various individual firearms are no less exquisite and elaborate. The demand for gold-inlaid and silver-mounted South East European pieces in particular has remained unabated for many years. Among them is a deluxe pair of Balkan Turkish pistols, moderately valued at 15,000 euros; the barrels are adorned with gold floral inlays and Kufi inscriptions, the stocks completely covered with filigree beaded band decoration and the iron flintlocks extravagantly engraved with fine scrolling leaves.
Besides a vast assortment of works in jade and ivory, the fascinating lots from China include a statue of the bodhisattva Guanyin from the Ming dynasty. Seated on a double lotus throne, wearing the five-pointed crown and represented in the preaching gesture, the bronze figure retains remnants of gold lacquer and red and blue hues. Offers of at least 20,000 euros are welcome for the poignant effigy of the goddess of mercy and compassion, standing some 58 centimeters tall. Only marginally smaller, at an overall height of 53 centimeters, is a stunning, multi-colored, mid-19th century cloisonné flask with fire-gilt fittings and gilt handles in the shape of dragons. Boasting enamel décor with depictions of flowers and leaves, it is offered for auction from 18,000 euros.
Military history and historical objects
Without doubt, the most elegant and gorgeously colored lot in the 77th Auction may be found among the diverse consignments from the personal possessions of European sovereigns. The unparalleled, captivating coffee and tea service with vibrant parrot motifs, which was commissioned from the Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg by Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria circa 1810/20, is sure to hold collectors in thrall with its beauty. The complete, 16-piece service in hard-paste porcelain is in perfect, unchiped condition and features a graceful design, the superlative décor skilfuly hand-painted and resplendent in gilt. The vivid paintings of the talented porcelain artist were inspired by the depictions of different parrots in the two-volume work "Histoire naturelle des perroquets" by Francois Levaillant (1753 – 1824), with illustrations by Jacques Barraband (circa 1767 – 1809). According to family tradition, aware that the Bavarian King was an enthusiastic ornithologist, Emperor Napoleon I presented the work, which had been published in 1801 and 1805, to Maximilian I Joseph during a meeting in Paris. On his return to Munich, the King commissioned the Manufaktur Nymphenburg to produce this service as a gift for a friend of his, a physician and fellow ornithologist, based on this reference work. This magnificent service, compelling both by virtue of its beauty and its history, remained in the family estate of the physician for whom it was made until the 1970s and now demands a worthy tribute of at least 25,000 euros.
Following the sensational prices achieved by garments from the sophisticated wardrobe of Empress Elisabeth of Austria in spring 2018, avid collectors are now eagerly awaiting the forthcoming auction of other items from her personal possessions. One particular highlight here is an opulent seal showing the helmeted Pallas Athena in silver, standing on a base of lapis lazuli and bearing Nike, the goddess of victory, in her right hand. Made circa 1889 by Heinrich Jauner, imperial-royal court engraver of Vienna, and modeled on Theophil von Hansen's Pallas Athena Fountain, the seal surface is carved with the monogram "E" below the Empress' crown. It is very likely that this seal, with a catalogue price of 25,000 euros, was presented to the Empress by the designer, Theophil von Hansen, as a personal gift. Furthermore, a silver dressing table mirror belonging to the Empress, lavishly ornamented with flowers, rocailles, volutes and acanthus leaves, may be acquired from 9,500 euros.
A deluxe cavalry sword belonging to her husband's brother, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Este (1863 – 1914) as proprietor of the Royal Bavarian 2nd Schwere Reiter regiment, which was presented to him by Prince Ludwig Ferdinand of Bavaria, is now expected to fetch 15,000 euros. Extraordinary lots with supremely interesting collectors' items from all over the world are par for the course in the military history and historical objects section, such as one of the rarest helmets on the market, a formidable helmet for the Palace Guard during the reign of Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico from 1864 to 1867. No more than 40 of these helmets were made, just a small number of which still survive; therefore, this undisputed pièce de résistance may command its price, with bids being accepted from 25,000 euros. Also on offer, estimated at 16,000 euros, is a unique uniform set, again from Europe; comprising a bicorn hat, or feluca, with a feather plume and the matching small sword, it dates from Venice's checkered history during the Napoleonic era, is equally rare and also remarkably decorative. The color scheme of green, white and red alone is a wonderful testament to the Italian kingdom under Napoleonic rule from 1805 – 1814. Furthermore, buyers will be interested in a significant collection of Italian military headgear dating from 1848 to 1945.
Once more, eminent personages and unequalled historical artifacts from their personal property usher in the Russian military objects. Among these lots, bids from 7,000 euros are now invited for a 1917 dagger awarded for bravery to officers of the Russian navy, with an appliquéd order of St. George, from the estate of the highly decorated WWI Major General Viktor Petrovich Taranovsky (1864 – 1937). In addition, opening at 6,000 euros, the sale of a one-of-a-kind, museum-quality, silver St. George's trumpet has attracted a great deal of attention. The instrument was dedicated to the celebrated Kubansky Cavalry Regiment of the Cuban Cossack Army to commemorate the capture of Kars in Turkey on 6 November 1877. Of later date, and also inscribed with the bearer's name, is a Soviet Order of Kutusov 2nd Class, which was awarded to Major General of the Artillery (1943) Kirill Chumak (1900 – 83) in 1943. Valued at 6,000 euros, the order features a portrait of Kutusov at the Kremlin wall and comes complete with the associated orders book. An eight-rayed Breast Star 1st Class for the Prussian Order of the Red Eagle in the faceted manufacture of circa 1850 is guaranteed to delight collectors. Wrought in silver, the medallion partly made of gold, the high-ranking order of merit will change hands from 6,000 euros.
*Please note: all prices quoted are net prices and do not include the 25% premium.