Outside, the wind whistled a stormy accompaniment to the beeping of the incoming bids: once again, the Munich auction house Hermann Historica
's auction week tempted buyers with numerous highlights, among them the premiere of Jewellery and precious stones. Moreover, the extensive poster collection acquired by commercial designer Willi Engelhardt proved to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
The online-only auction of Hermann Historica kicked off on Monday, 31 January, with almost 900 lots in the chapters of Works of Art and Asian Art. Bids could be placed via the inhouse bidding platform and two external platforms.
Not one, but two pocket watches sold for well over ten times their starting prices. Lot number 5262, a delicate art nouveau pocket watch dating from the early 20th century had been estimated at 320 euros, yet went on to fetch a gratifying 4,750 euros. The watch from Paris featured a lady set with exquisite, rose-cut diamonds and 18 carat gold. Opening at 220 euros, lot 5264 came under the hammer for 4,500 euros. Resplendent in 14 carat gold, the Swiss pocket watch sparkled magnificently with the slivers of diamonds set in the flower.
Meanwhile, lot 5115 also increased its catalogue price by more than tenfold. The Madonna with the Infant Jesus in wood, standing some 48 cm tall, was valued at 250 euros and changed hands for 3,625 euros.
Asia devotees were particularly delighted with two cast iron figures. Although bids from 300 euros had been invited for lot number 5760, an enthroned Guanyin and a standing dignitary, both from 19th century China, the immediate volley of bids drove the price up to well over 1,000 euros.
However, the online-only auction typically offers aficionados a chance to snap up rarities at bargain prices. To give just one example, a small, extraordinarily lifelike bronze sculpture, circa 1910/20, found a new owner for just 150 euros. The figure was of a dancer who seemed to float gracefully on her pedestal.
On Tuesday, 1 February, the auction day started with the Antiquities section. Five pots from the Urnfield Period, some embellished with geometric ornaments, deserve special mention here. Although this magnificent ensemble was listed as lot number 6088 for 380 euros, the hammer only fell at 1,750 euros. Another highlight was lot 6001. Six spherical mace heads from the Near East and Egypt were carved in different types of rock and had acquired a gorgeous patina over time. Bids from 300 euros were welcome. However, the mace heads almost quadrupled their estimate, selling for just under 1,200 euros. Lot 6016 also originated in the Near Eastern region. The fan dagger from Luristan was dated to approximately 1,000 B.C. The intact edged weapon found a buyer for 900 euros, its asking price of 350 euros notwithstanding.
The artistic collection acquired by graphic artist and commercial designer Willi Engelhardt (1900 1983) had already created a certain excitement. Among the almost 150 lots were numerous film and advertising posters. Several gouache drawings and sketches from his studio were particularly well received by the artist's admirers. Lot number 7023, a design for a poster advertising "München - Sommer 1930", was offered for 700 euros, yet an enthusiast was coaxed into investing 1,875 euros. A different design on the same theme was slightly more affordable. Despite opening at 600 euros, lot 7021 now graces a new collection for 1,750 euros. Undeterred by its limit of 350 euros, one fan spent 1,000 euros on the large-format sketch for "Fleischmann's Hotel-Strand- u. Sportbad Steinbach Wörthsee".
The afternoon session continued at 2 pm with the cornucopia of treasures among the Antique Arms and Armour. A Chinese dao achieved a top price in the edged weapon category. Covered in lizard skin, the thrusting weapon closed at 3,500 euros, virtually dwarfing its catalogue price of 300 euros. One particularly outstanding decorative item proved extremely popular. The 19th century chamfron had been constructed in the style of the 16th century for a museum. Spirited bidding resulted in a final price of 2,875 euros, more than six times its limit of 450 euros. The fierce bidding contest that erupted for lot 8268 took the saleroom by surprise. A 15th century kidney dagger from the North German or Flemish region had been estimated at just 40 euros. However, it raced past its starting price before the gavel fell on 1,625 euros, a spectacular fortyfold increase.
The post-auction sale of this online-only auction runs until 20 March. During this time, all unsold lots may be purchased for their catalogue price, plus a buyer's premium.