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Hermann Historica's Successful Spring Sale Under the Sign of Dragons and Double-Headed Eagles
Illyrian Helmet,

MUNICH.- Many clients and collectors showed great interest in the pre-sale viewing preceding the spring sale, a good sign for the 61st auction of the renowned Hermann Historica oHG, Munich auction house but between 28 April and 12 May, the top hammer prices exceeded all previous expectations. Approximately 7,700 objects – antiques, ancient arms and armour, arts and crafts, hunting collectibles as well as medals and militaria – were offered for bidding.

Lot 3066 is a striking example for the fact that vivid interest is not only reflected in casual requests, but also in concrete pre-bids. On the fourth day of the sale, the 24 cm tall and 492 grammes heavy rhinoceros horn beaker from the Kangxi Period (1662-1722) with an initial starting price of 12,000 Euros had to be introduced at 52,000 Euros. The beaker with openwork in several layers is decorated with blossoms, tendrils and lotus leaves, a type of manufacture hardly ever used for this valuable type of horn due to the significant loss of material. Such an extremely rare object commanded a handsome price: accompanied by breathless suspense in the packed saleroom and with phone bids from all over the world, this unique piece from an old Bochum collection was sold to a Chinese client for 150,000 Euros.

A considerable multiplication of the starting price was also achieved for another Chinese, elaborately incised and gilt sword from the 19th century: Within a few minutes, it rose from its humble starting price of 450 Euros to impressive 13,000 Euros. Another highlight was a well preserved bronze warrior´s helmet from the Chou Dynasty, ca. 700 - 300 B.C. The one-piece helmet with brown-green patina was offered at a starting price of 6,000 Euros and sold for 10,500 Euros.

In the section of European objects of military history the interest in lots of Russian origin remained unwavering. It is therefore not surprising that eight of the ten highest acceptances of bids can be found in the subsection “Imperial Russia” of the militaria catalogue. Well worth noting in this context is an impressive pair of bronze busts portraying Tsar Alexander I and his wife Elizaveta Alekseevna. The busts were made around 1810 and represent the Tsar in uniform with a sash and the breast star of the Order of St. Anne, the Tsarina in a lace-trimmed, low-cut gown. Introduced at a starting price of 45,000 Euros, these finely sculpted works with original, associated bases bearing fire gilt and crowned double-headed eagles realised 56,000 Euros. Another precious piece comes from the personal surroundings of the imperial family, a pastel from the estate of the Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna Romanova (1822 - 1892). A finely painted, unsigned child portrait of Queen Marie of Hannover (1818 - 1907) with her sisters Therese (1823 - 1915), Alexandra (Grand Duchess of Russia 1830 - 1911) and Elisabeth (Grand Duchess of Oldenburg, 1826 - 1896). The 45 x 56 cm sized painting with original gilt frame later passed into Royal Bavarian ownership. The touching child portrait was offered at 3,600 Euros and brought 18,000 Euros.

Also noteworthy are two significant works of famous Russian gun makers: a flintlock sporting musket from the workshop of Ivan Krapiventsov is of museum quality. Made in the Russian city of Tula around 1780, it is very elaborately decorated with silver and gold wire inlays. Offered at a starting price of 50,000 Euros, it achieved 53,000 Euros. A slightly less adorned flintlock rifle, also decorated with gold inlays, made by the St. Petersburg gun maker Karl Beckmann around 1800, found a new owner for 25,000 Euros.

The exclusive objects from the antiques catalogue were once again in high demand, among them a well preserved and finely crafted Illyrian type helmet with gold edging dating from the 6th/5th century BC. The helmet does not only feature the hemispherical bronze skull with the characteristic two parallel crest ridges, but also a – rather unusual – border of sheet gold around the face-opening and cheek pieces, thus making the helmet a truly unique piece. Introduced at a starting price of 15,000 Euros, the helmet ultimately realised 18,000 Euros. But the international audience was also looking forward to the sale of another rare item of ancient military history: a military diploma for a cavalryman from 146 A.C. issued during the reign of Antoninus Pius, which achieved 12,500 Euros.

A rare East Celtic iron helmet from the 3rd/2nd century B.C. was offered at 4,500 Euros. The one-piece hammered skull with large cheek pieces was sold after heavy bidding for 10,500 Euros.

Ancient arms and crafts
In the past years, a growing interest in kunstkammer objects and historical hunting trophies has become apparent. It is therefore not surprising that top results were achieved once again in these fields. A handsomely grown narwhal tusk of the stately size of 2,43 metres was sold for 29,000 Euros, nearly six times its starting price of 5,000 Euros. Two rhinoceros horns even sold for 40,000 and 34,000 Euros respectively (starting prices 18,000 and 17,000 Euros).

Among the highlights in the ancient weapons section was a closed helmet dating from 1500/1510, a type of helmet characteristic for Innsbruck and Nuremberg. A heated bidding competition ensued over the striking early visor helmet, its starting price of 18,000 Euros quickly rising to 28,000 Euros. Other beautiful pieces were elaborately crafted edged weapons from the Orient and the Far East. An elegantly crafted Indian dagger from the 17th/18th century caught the attention of many a bidder; offered at the comparatively humble starting price of 1,500 Euros, it commanded the remarkable sum of 25,000 Euros.

Antique and modern firearms
This 61st auction presented a wide variety of ancient firearms of high quality. Two extremely finely worked rifles drew the attention of the audience at the beginning of this segment. While a wheellock rifle from 1720 made in Andreas Gans’s famous Augsburg gunmaker’s shop (offered at a starting price of 10,000 Euros) fetched impressive 16,000 Euros, a likewise rare and well preserved tschinke from Cieszyn (Teschen) from ca. 1650 could be purchased for 14,000 Euros (starting price 9,500 Euros). An exquisite flintlock set consisting of a rifle and a pair of pistols from Karlsbad, made around 1760, achieved 12,600 Euros. Richly decorated with images of ancient gods and hunting scenes made of fire gilt brass, the set had been introduced at 12,000 Euros.

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May 24, 2011

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