All specialist areas represented by Hermann Historica
antiquities, arms and armour, arts and crafts, hunting collectibles and objects from history and military history reported excellent results, with some lots multiplying their estimated price several times over. A total of approximately 5,370 collectors' items came under the hammer at the autumn auction 2012.
Objects from history and military history
First-class artefacts from the Tsarist Empire caused a flurry of excitement at the autumn auction. No sooner was one of the main showpieces of this section called than an exchange of bids flared up in the room, online and by telephone, lasting several minutes. Prior to the auction, the flintlock shotgun from Tula, dated 1741, that had belonged to Tsarina Elizabeth Petrovna (1709 1762), had been the subject of lengthy discussion among experts. With a starting price of 60,000 euros, the rarity and verifiable provenance of the elaborately engraved and gilded gun with iron chiselling, together with its museum significance, were reflected in the sensational result of 145,000 euros.
The remainder of the first day of the militaria auction was entirely dominated by the Russian double-headed eagle. Lots from Tsarist Russia fetched eight of the ten highest hammer prices. A significant presentation sabre purveyed to the tsarist court in Zlatoust circa 1816/1820 was bid up by a remarkable 50,000 euros. The particularly exquisite edged weapon of the finest quality (a comparable piece has been documented for the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg) changed hands for no less than 65,000 euros. Equally keen was the interest in memorabilia from the personal possessions of Tsar Nicholas II (1868 - 1918). Signed by his own hand and marked "Swinemünde 1907", a portrait photograph of the Romanov tsar sold for the princely sum of 33,000 euros, dwarfing its limit of 2,000 euros. In deference to his father, the last tsar retained a lower rank in public at all times; accordingly, this remarkable photographic historical document shows him in a borrowed uniform. In comparison, the hammer fell at 32,000 euros for his personal lapis lazuli seal with a double-headed eagle on a St Andrew's cross and a monogram on the breast shield (starting price 5,000 euros).
"The prices for top-quality, selected pieces from Russia, particularly when they come onto the market from older collections, have remained gratifyingly high for several years", Thomas Rief, general manager and co-owner of Hermann Historica summed up the successful militaria auction. It came as no surprise, then, that the rare Russian orders also fetched record prices. With an estimate of 7,000 euros, an Orders Cross 2nd Class with the Crown of the Order of St. Anne was sold to a bidder for 63,000 euros. The striking St. Petersburg artwork with its extremely fine enamel painting dates from the year 1856. Bidding started at 8,000 euros for lot number 3054, a Breast Star of the Order of Alexander Nevsky, Russia's second-highest Order of Merit. Still in its original case, this piece was sold for 36,000 euros to a buyer from the same country of origin.
It was, however, not just memorabilia owned by illustrious historical personages and items from military careers of Russian origin that attracted lively interest. Mementos from the personal property of members of Bavarian and Austrian ruling houses were once again in great demand, such as a fully outfitted wardrobe box belonging to the Empress Elisabeth of Austria from Seisenegg Castle. The garments and correspondence, including a lady's ensemble, a parasol, various fine undergarments, gloves, handkerchiefs and a number of letters, introduced at 7,500 euros, fetched a hammer price of 32,000 euros.
Among the military edged weapons, experts were fascinated by an impressive weapon of honour from the late 18th century, in other words, the final days of the French Revolution or the early years of Napoleon Bonaparte's rise to power as First Consul of France. Notwithstanding the estimate of 12,000 euros, the characteristically wrought sabre of honour from Klingenthal achieved a winning bid of 41,000 euros. A field cap from the possessions of the legendary World War I pilot, Manfred Freiherr von Richthofen (1892 - 1918), and dating from that period, was put up for auction. Spirited bidding raised the price of this important piece of German Luftwaffe history, whose provenance is fully documented, from 5,000 to 20,000 euros.
Once again, in this auction, the rich variety of objects on offer in the antiquities catalogue from all ancient eras and regions was truly impressive. Even during the run-up, well-preserved early helmets had attracted a great deal of interest, among them a spectacular Illyrian helmet from the sixth century BC. Made of bronze and with a border of lentil-shaped decorative rivets, it was introduced at 8,000 euros, yet the helmet sold for the substantial sum of 19,000 euros. Dating from the third century AD, a rare blade of a Roman Gladius Pompeianus fetched 11,500 euros, almost six times its estimate. Originating from the same period, the heavy gold ring of an officer in the Roman Legio XI was up for sale at 10,000 euros. With a cameo of blue layer agate on the top, bearing the inscription "LEG XI CLAU" amid two stars, the winning bid for this valuable piece of jewellery was 12,500 euros. Furthermore, a beautiful and high-quality bulbous jug with sculptural handles and a fine patina fetched a hammer price of 10,000 euros.
Arms and armour, arts and crafts
Once again, the auction saw very pleasant results in the hunting collectibles and arts and crafts section. As in previous years, the demand among international collectors for Kunstkammer objects and historical hunting trophies in particular was as high as ever, which became obvious when a 20th century golden miniature casket, an outstanding exemplar of jeweller's artistry, was put up for auction.: A connoisseur was prepared to part with 15,600 euros for the exact copy of a tiny 17th century iron casket, made of 18 carat yellow and white gold and set with 14 diamonds. Of much earlier date, less sumptuously crafted but of museum quality, was a Romanesque tripodal pricket candle holder from the eleventh/twelfth century. The two-tiered figural candle holder, made of tin in relief and crowned with a drip pan, was sold for 12,000 euros. Among the particularly decorative objects on offer was a German silver-mounted rhinoceros horn cup, 1900 1930. With its intricate and continuous high relief carvings of maidens bathing, the honey-coloured, slightly transparent horn now adorns the collection of its new owner, who bid 18,000 euros for it. Furthermore, natural horn achieved again high five-figure hammer prices, such as 82,000 euros for a magnificent historical rhinoceros trophy (starting price 35,000).
Once more, outstanding collectors' items of formidable provenance were among the arms and armour offered for bidding. These included a rare bijou of perfectly crafted armourer's artistry, in the form of a significant miniature armour from the workshop of E. Granger, known to have worked in Paris during the first half of the 19th century. The knight and his steed are meticulously fashioned in the style of circa 1530/40; of the finest quality, each piece of armour was modelled on the original and is fully articulated as well as functional, including the sliding lames. Naturally, the price reflected a great rarity such as this; the winning bid for this unique piece, estimated at 8,000 euros, was 25,000 euros. As in previous auctions, the demand for high-quality edged weapons which are characteristic of their time period was consistently high in all sections. Noteworthy here is a German knightly sword from the eleventh century, whose double-edged blade is embellished with gold inlays on both sides of the upper third. With its eye-catching semi-circular pommel of tapering profile, the sword had long occupied pride of place in an older Munich collection; introduced at 4,500 euros, it fetched a hammer price of 12,500 euros. There were also favourable results for an Austrian as well as a German two-hand sword, which each sold for 10,500 euros. While the Austrian sword, forged circa 1580, was put up for auction for 6,000 euros, the South-German flamberge of slightly later date had been estimated at 6,500 euros.
Orient and Asia
The market for exceptional and high-quality objects from China, the Ottoman Empire, India and Japan continues to grow steadily. This autumn, once again, the varied, impressive range of objects met with appreciation from around the world; thus, the large number of sumptuously worked arms and the sensational chamfrons in the auction did not escape the attention of the international Orient collectors. The East Anatolian or West Iranian wrought iron chamfrons can be attributed to the early 17th century. Decorated with cartouches and the signet of the Saint Irene arsenal in Constantinople, they had been moderately estimated at 12,000 and 9,000 euros but realised the remarkable sums of 35,000 and 25,000 euros, respectively.
Particularly striking was a superb rhinoceros horn cup from the Middle Kingdom, adorned with rich symbolism and dating from the 18th century. The extremely appealing lotus bouquet cup had been completely carved in the shape of a wreath of lotus blossoms and leaves as well as millet and arrowhead. The carving symbolises the values of purity, generosity and abundance in times of hardship. The unique, caramel to amber-coloured object sold for 24,000 euros. Part of a private collection for many years, another rare Chinese lot of very early date fetched a spectacular price that eclipsed its estimate. In no time at all, the price for eleven pieces of so-called knife money from the sixth to the fourth century BC had jumped from 300 euros to 10,000 euros.
Fine antique and modern firearms
Among the available lots of exclusive antique firearms were collectors' items that only rarely come onto on the market. Pairs of elaborately crafted pistols were especially sought-after in this year's autumn auction. Such was the case with a pair of double-barrelled hammer pistols from the workshop of the gunsmith Ferdinand Reuss in Mehlis, circa 1880/90, offered with the matching case. With their gold-inlaid signatures, beautifully grained root wood stocks and extremely fine vine engraving on the furniture, they made an excellent impression on the collectors and consequently were bid up to 23,000 from 7.500 euros. Also for sale was an exquisite cased pair of flintlock pistols, Prochaska, Chrudim/Bohemia, dated 1824 and complete with extensive accessories. With a starting price of 9,800 euros, these fine specimens were sold for 15,000 euros. In addition, a wheellock rifle manufactured and signed by Gabriel Dorn in Nuremberg dating from 1663, with an estimate of 8,000 euros, realised a hammer price of 13,000 euros.
All prices are net prices and are to be understood plus 23 percent surcharge. Unsold objects can still be purchased.