An Imperial Russian Garde du Corps officer’s helmet, made circa 1900-1917 and in overall excellent condition, with a gilt finish skull and an upswept lobster tail, sold for $17,050 at Mohawk Arms’ Auction #70, a live and Internet sale that went online in early November and ended Dec. 6-7. The auction was held in Bouckville, in upstate New York.
The helmet was the top achiever of the more than 1,500 lots of militaria and weaponry that came up for bid. Only about 40 people attended the auction in person, but virtually every one was an active buyer. Online bidding was extremely busy, too, with more than 700 bidders registered through LiveAuctioneers.com and the Mohawk Arms website (MilitaryRelics.com).
In addition, more than 200 absentee bidders and over 50 phone bidders participated, in an auction that grossed in excess of $200,000. “We attracted a fair number of new bidders, both U.S. and foreign, and bids poured in from Europe, Asia and elsewhere,” said Raymond Zyla, the owner of Mohawk Arms. “It was a great sale, and a true testament to the health of the market.”
Zyla said categories that did particularly well included daggers, bayonets, embroidered insignias (American and German), medals, badges, swords, uniforms and exotica. “Plus there were the usual surprises,” he added, “like the set of German shoulder boards that we estimated at $75 and ended up selling to a collector from Japan for $2,115. We didn’t see that one coming.”
The Russian helmet was a hit with bidders for many reasons: The plum patina on the silvered eight-pointed starburst that held an enameled double-headed eagle with the Cross of St. Andrew, the words “For Faith and Loyalty” in gold Cyrillic lettering surrounding the center, the shield bearing the emblem of St. George slaying a dragon and a front visor lined in black velvet.
Following are additional highlights from the auction. All prices quoted include a sliding scale buyer’s premium, which ranged from 10-17.5 percent.
Two other helmets realized identical selling prices of $9,000. One was similar in shape to the Russian top lot. It was a Prussian Garde du Corps helmet with Tombak body, having nickel trim and dome studs on the lobster tail back visor. The large, age-toned silver frontplate bore an outer ribbon dated 1860, and the inner band had a separately affixed black eagle in the center.
The other was a Saxon Garde Reiter officer’s helmet on a Tombak body, with double-stepped visor having nickel trim. The piece also boasted an age-toned gilt brass crowned Saxon coat of arms on a large silver starburst frontplate, plus both large officer rosettes (Saxon and national colors). The skull, despite some minor dents and wrinkles, retained a fairly bright finish.
An important grouping from WWII German Army Gen. Lt. Dr. Franz Beyer, commander of the 44th “Hoch u. Deutschmeister” Infantry Division in 1943, went for $10,012. The trove included a four-pocket, quality doeskin tunic with breast eagle and collar tabs, a Soldbuch with a photo of Beyer wearing his Knight’s Cross award, and his 1939 hunting license.
A pair of lots pertaining to Tech Sgt. John J. Manning, who served in the U.S. 713th and 754th tank battalions (the legendary “Flame Throwers”) both did well. The first was a uniform grouping that included Manning’s “Ike” jacket with collar discs, four ribbon bars, stripes and shoulder patches; a tan shirt with inked name; and three overseas caps (one olive drab, two tan).
The other lot contained decorations and other items, to include shoulder patches for both the 713th and 754th tank battalions; a pair of his dog tags; an armored enameled collar insignia; collar discs (U.S. Armor and Infantry); an expert “Sterling” badge, with four bars; an enameled “Thunderbolt” badge; two Pacific Campaign ribbon bars and a Ft. Knox souvenir postcard pack.
Civil War memorabilia is always a big draw in any auction. An archival lot pertaining to Thomas Burke, a sergeant in the 97th New York State Volunteers, changed hands for $2,232. The grouping included Burke’s discharge certificate, a wooden spoon Burke carved while he was a prisoner of war, and an 1896 letter regarding his Congressional Medal of Honor.
Also, a well-worn, Confederate-used M1860 Army Colt revolver with three-screw frame and a New York address on the barrel gaveled for $1,821. The gun showed some pitting and had a darkened age finish, and the brass trigger guard was numbered “108074”. The gun came with an equally well-worn period holster and field-made adjustable belt with a bass “snake” buckle.
Mohawk Arms’s next big internet and catalog auction will be held this coming June (firm times and dates still to be determined). Already consigned are many Civil War items (including weapons, carvings, swords, headgear and jackets), WWI painted helmets (American), Indian Wars period equipment and weaponry, Imperial helmets, full mannequins (WWII American), belts, cartridge boxes and more.
Mohawk Arms, Inc., is always accepting quality consignments for future auctions. To consign a single item, a collection or an entire estate, you may call them at (315) 893-7888; or e-mail them at Mohawk@MilitaryRelics.com. To learn more about Mohawk Arms, Inc., and the upcoming June auction, log on to www.MilitaryRelics.com.