This year's Autumn Auction of Hermann Historica oHG
saw approximately 8,000 objects come under the hammer from all specialist areas of history and military history, including pieces from the Historical Firearms Museum of the Überlingen Arsenal the Friedrich Hebsacker Collection.
Once again this autumn, the antiquities section offered a multitude of early bronze helmets in outstanding condition, which enjoyed great popularity among the specialist international bidders. The helmets included lot numbers 2037 and 2038; both characteristic examples of their kind. Opening at 8,000 euros, an Illyrian helmet dating from the seventh to the sixth century B.C., particularly impressive due to the exquisite dark green patina of its heavy skull, was finally sold to a bidder for 12,000 euros. Meanwhile, a Greek Chalcidian helmet dating from the fourth century B.C, with its full-faced tin-plating and the characteristic movable cheek pieces, had a starting price of 15,000 euros. The enormous interest in this extremely appealing piece gave rise to a flurry of bids, with the helmet ultimately changing hands for 22,000 euros. Originating from the same period was a masterpiece of antique silversmith artistry, a late Scythian/early Sarmatian silver bowl. Partially gilt, this great rarity was engraved with a hunting scene in finest relief, depicting a steppe-nomadic rider poised to attack a wild boar. Here again, the rarity of the bowl, matched only by its exquisite craftsmanship, did not escape the experts' notice; its starting price of 20,000 euros notwithstanding, the bowl unleashed a lengthy bidding battle and went on to fetch 34,000 euros. More recent, yet no less interesting, was a perfectly preserved, Middle Byzantine reliquary cross in silver, dating from the tenth to the eleventh century. Elaborately and most attractively decorated, the magnificent, partially gilded crucifix had a limit of 10,000 euros; the hammer finally fell at 16,000 euros.
Arms and armour, arts and crafts
According to tradition, the arms and armour catalogue opened with hunting antiques and works of art. Once again, this autumn experienced a lively demand for inimitable objects made of horn, some with a natural finish and others intricately carved. Among their number were three cups, each on a base and carved from rhinoceros horn; attributed to Victorian England, all three were formidably worked to revealed the light translucency of the material. Open to bids from 3,500 euros, the cups obtained an impressive final price of 13,000 euros. Historical hunting trophies frequently attest to the magnificent designs created by Mother Nature herself, as in this case: the splendidly grown tusk of a narwhal with the characteristic, helically twisted structure along its majestic length of 2.36 metres, whose final price of 13,500 euros more than doubled its starting price of 5,000 euros.
Once more, rare collectors' items were among the antique arms and armour on offer. For a long time, Maximilian armour parts, their design as characteristic as it is decorative, have been much sought-after; such parts bear testimony to the fine armourer's art of the early modern era. The group presented for auction this autumn, comprising a breastplate with cuisses attached, collar, leg defences and "bear-paw" sabatons, was forged in Nuremberg circa 1510/20; all armour parts displayed the typical, elaborate fluting with the turned and roped flanges. In addition to the optimal protection of the wearer, all armour parts share one common feature they were designed to ensure maximum comfort; therefore, all movable elements slide on multiple lames. Although this superb collection of armour parts was estimated at 13,500 euros, it gave rise to a spate of spirited bidding among the buyers; the hammer finally fell at 49,000 euros. Blacksmiths with exceptional skills also used to ply their trade in the field of historicism, as attested to by a true bijou of perfectly crafted armourer's artistry: a miniature set of armour for both man and horse, standing 1.54 metres tall. Portraying knight and steed in full armour in the late medieval style, the set was offered for 18,000 euros and sold for 21,000 euros. Of the finest quality, all armour parts were modelled on the originals and were fully articulated and functional.
Once again, there was a magnificent range of rare helmets on offer, like an early German bascinet from 1370, which found a bidder for its limit of 12,000 euros, or an unusual burgonet with pivoted bevor deriving from the Hebsacker collection and fashioned in Augsburg around the middle of the 16th century, which aroused lively participation and raised the starting price of 9,500 euros to a gratifying 20,500 euros. Particularly outstanding among the edged weapons were an early knightly sword with an inlaid symbol, probably the tree of life, forged in Germany around 1100, which, its limit of 7,000 euros notwithstanding, achieved a winning bid of 14,500 euros, as well as a thrusting sword from Passau with its unusual blade, which now adorns a new collection for the hammer price of 10,500 euros (starting price 6,500 euros).
Only optimal conditions ensure the preservation of wooden and leather objects over the centuries, therefore the excellent condition of a Bernese pavise, made in Switzerland around the turn of the fifteenth century, is all the more impressive. Fully covered in fine pigskin, the front of the untouched wooden oval shield has a coloured coating, consisting of a yellow bend on a red field, with the Bernese bear painted on top. The sensational shield, the almost identical twin of which is documented in the Historical Museum of Berne, unleashed a flurry of excitement among the enthusiasts: an exchange of bids flared immediately, with the shield fetching 39,500 euros, many times its estimate of 10,000 euros.
Africa, Orient and Asia
The quality and diversity of the lots from Africa, the Ottoman Empire, India, Japan and China remained as compelling as ever. Once again, there was a captivating array of splendidly crafted weapons from the Orient. One example was an exquisite gold-inlaid kard with a jade hilt and insets of rubies, diamonds and emeralds, dating from the 18th century, which changed hands for its starting price of 7,000 euros. With a minimum bid of 9,500 euros, a 17th century khanjar with an impressive offset silver grip decorated with dragons heads, probably from Balochistan/Afghanistan, which, on account of its rarity only very few similar pieces have been published around the world went on to fetch 10,000 euros An example of outstanding chiselling craftsmanship with its sculptures of a dragon, a peacock and a stork, the latter with a movable tongue, was a magnificent 17th century bichawa from Southern India. This distinguished weapon was able to command its price; despite its estimate of 10,000 euros, the sale was only completed at 25,000 euros. Also from the Indian subcontinent, a bowl carved in a single piece from rhinoceros horn with a zigzag decor along the border was similarly well received by the buyers. With a limit of 12,000 euros, the drop-shaped receptacle, dating from the Akbar period at the turn of the 17th century, was finally sold for 16,000 euros.
Moreover, a particular feature of the auction were the delicate ivory carvings and spectacular metal objects from China. The spectrum of pieces ranged from a large carved ivory tusk dating from the 19th century depicting an exquisitely detailed landscape, with a starting price of 12,000 euros, which sold for 21,000 euros, right through to a sizeable bronze door knocker in the shape of a lion's head, dating from the 17th/18th century, the masterly craftsmanship of which was reflected in the final price; the winning bid of 13,500 euros amounted to almost seven times its estimate.
Military history and historical objects
Once again this autumn, the collectors' items of remarkable provenance in some cases even imperial and royal proved extremely popular, commanding the attention of private or institutional collectors from all over the world. Bids were invited from 20,000 euros for the personal campaign tunic belonging to Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria (1830 1916). Of the highest quality, tailored in very fine, pike-grey cloth with a scarlet collar and gold-embroidered cuffs, the tunic was produced in 1916 by the imperial court purveyor "A. Uzel" in Vienna and is known to have been worn by Kaiser Franz Joseph I; the uniform tunic now adorns a new collection for 52,000 euros. No less significant and equally sought after were mementos from the personal property of King Ludwig II of Bavaria (1845 1886). A magnificent conductor's baton in ebony and silver, which was presented to Richard Wagner (1813 1883) in 1868 by King Ludwig II as a token of his deepest esteem for the composer, inspired such enthusiasm among collectors that the price quickly jumped from 9,500 euros to 33,000 euros within very few bidding steps. Opening at 12,000 euros, his royal seal, the handle formed of a large cut amethyst and decorated with a fine, intricately worked gold mounting bearing the Bavarian royal crown, found a new owner for 16,000 euros. Moreover, a gold and enamel appliqué with the royal coat of arms, Bavarian lozenge pattern and the king's mirrored monogram also appealed to collectors, fetching 5,200 euros and thus more than doubling its limit of 2,500 euros.
A piece of historical significance and museum quality, a personal gift from the Emperor Napoleon I (1769 - 1821) of stunning beauty and wrought with magnificent workmanship was offered for auction for 40,000 euros. Made around 1800, the richly decorated snuff box in 18 carat gold was rendered in deep blue translucent enamel and bore a large, mounted, crowned Napoleonic coat of arms on the central cover. As a token of his appreciation, Napoleon presented this sumptuous masterpiece of jeweller's artistry to his long-serving and highly esteemed marshal Michel Ney, Prince de la Moskowa (1769 - 1815). Only when the bids for this outstanding work reached 60,000 euros did the hammer finally fall.
In addition, the plethora of Russian objects started off with a number of unique historical artefacts. Up for auction was a precious work of fine quality associated with the tsarist court, a shashka M 1881/1909 for officers of the Russian dragoons with a personal dedication, which was listed at 20,000 euros. Forged in the arts department of the Zlatoust arms factory and embellished on both sides with gold-inlaid cartouches, some engraved with the double-headed eagle, some with the tsar's cypher, the shashka fetched 25,000 euros. Spirited bidding for a further shashka M 1881 for officers of the Russian dragoons, again inscribed with a personal dedication and estimated at 10,000 euros, culminated in the final price of 28,000 euros. Furthermore, a Russian icon "Christus Pantokrator", dated 1880, with silver and partly enamelled oklad, achieved the excellent result of 19,500 euros, thereby more than quadrupling its starting price of 4,500 euros.
Orders and Insignia
The orders and insignia section offered a selection of exceptionally rare pieces of German provenance. For the very first time, it was possible to acquire a Bavarian Order of Military Medical Merit 1st Class, this exemplar awarded to chief physician Dr. Alois Drisch. Opening at 14,000 euros, the winning bid was 15,500 euros. In conformance with the high distinction of the award, the king concluded in 1918 that the white and blue enamelled golden cross with four arms was not to be worn on the chest but around the neck. Also on offer was a cross of the Prussian Pour le Mérite order, the mint condition of which was reflected in the listed price of 12,000 euros; the legendary decoration for bravery ultimately sold for 18,500 euros.
Fine antique and modern firearms
The pièces de résistance in the antique firearms section were a collector's dream come true. Even during the run-up to the auction, a high-grade, outstanding luxury wheellock pistol from Nuremberg, circa 1590/1600, attracted buyers' attention with its sensational rarity and quality otherwise difficult to obtain on the market. For many years, the pistol had occupied pride of place in the armoury owned by the Prince of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt but was sold to the Berlin art trade back in 1926. Every last detail of the pistol impressed bidders with its fine quality: the decorative etched and gilt tendrils on the root of the barrel, the hallmark stamps, the elaborate inlays made of engraved and partially coloured bone as well as the engraved mother-of-pearl in the walnut stock. Estimated at 35,000 euros, this decorative and interesting firearm finally went for 41,000 euros. With lot number 1795 an exceptionally elegant pair of pistols in mint condition was offered for sale. The flintlock pistols were manufactured after 1814 by John Manton & Sons in London, and came complete with the matching case; while bidding started at 18,000 euros, a buyer was found for 29,000 euros.
All prices are net prices and are to be understood plus 23 percent surcharge. Unsold objects can still be purchased.