BOUCKVILLE, N.Y. _ An Imperial German World War I fighter pilot’s pokol (silvered victory goblet), showing an embossed panel of eagles in combat, 7 inches tall, sold for $8,850 to highlight Mohawk Arms June 3-4 Auction #75.
The area below the eagles’ panel was engraved with the fighter ace’s name: “Otto Esswein, 15-11-1917.” Esswein was credited with 12 aerial victories (half of them while flying a German Fokker tri-plane). He also received the Golden Military Merit Cross. Esswein also had the distinction of being one of the few World War I pilots to successfully parachute to safety.
The pokol was the top earner in an auction that was packed with over 1,300 lots of militaria that encompassed multiple conflicts and generations. Featured were items pertaining to (and even signed by) the legendary German World War I flying ace Baron Manfred von Richthofen, known as ‘The Red Baron’. Including the buyer’s premium, the auction grossed just over $156,000.
Offered were Imperial German helmets, a collection of World War I aviation badges (Prussian, Austrian, Bulgarian and others), autographs and photos, World War II German medals and edged weapons, headgear, uniforms, US Civil War items, British medals, Imperial Austrian headgear and uniforms, US World Wars I and II medals, combat gear, books, stamps, posters and more.
Following are additional highlights from the auction. All prices include the buyer’s premium.
The von Richthofen items included a purple enameled cigarette case, presented by him to Werner Voss, another member of Germany’s World War I elite group of aces, for being awarded a “Pour le Merite” (meritorious service). The case had several jewelers’ hallmarks, was dated “8-4-1917” and showed von Richthofen’s engraved signature. It changed hands for $6,136.
Also sold was an autographed card with a clear and unfaded specimen of von Richthofen’s signature. It was framed up, with his Sanke Card number 533, and came with a certificate of authenticity by the German military autograph expert Stefan Koerlin. Measuring 11 ¾ inches by 6 ½ inches and professionally framed and matted, the lot went for $4,320.
A detailed painting of a World War I German Albatross plane downing a French aircraft, titled Ehre den Siegern and artist-signed “J. Hippel ’17,” finished at $3,900. Hippel had portrayed the German aircraft in a side view, climbing above the flaming French plane.
Another Imperial German World War I pilot’s victory pokol also placed among the sale’s top lots, this one earning $4,560. It was a late war type goblet in iron and featured a finely hammered body with a large embossed panel of two relief eagles in combat. The 7-inch cup sat on a base band with relief lettering in German and the underside had the relief Prussian eagle and lettering.
A pair of German lots realized identical prices of $3,600. One was an enameled gold Mother’s Cross with a gold swastika inlaid with 17 diamonds, a facsimile of Adolf Hitler’s signature and an engraved date (“16 December 1938”). The other was a 1st Baden Leib Infantry Grenadier Regiment 109 reserve officer’s helmet with solid black leather body, large silver crowned griffin on the front plate and a silver starburst holding a Baden House Order and a silver Reservist cross.
Other helmets also did well. These included a Hessian General staff officer’s helmet with a solid smooth black leather body, state coat-of-arms, front plate with original gilt finish, gilt brass convex chin-scales and National and Hessian officer rosettes ($3,840); and a 92nd Brunswick Infantry Regiment pre-World War I “fahnrich” helmet with solid black leather body, aged gilt brass Prussian crowned eagle front plate and both the National and Brunswick officer rosettes ($3,360).
Other top lots included a US Civil War Confederate cavalry saber with French type hardwood grip with laurel branch decorated brass pommel cap and knuckle bow, a 29-inch curved blade and etched with the name of the maker in script: “McElroy & Harrington Co., Macon, Georgia” ($3,480); and a German World War II railway leader’s dagger (M1938), with aged patina on the sphere-shaped “sunwheel” swastika pommel and on the relief winged wheel crossguard ($3,000).
Mohawk Arms’ next big auction is planned for later on this year, probably in early December. The firm typically conducts two large sales annually. For info, visit www.MilitaryRelics.com.