MUNICH, GERMANY — Helmets and edged weapons dating from the ancient world through the Nineteenth Century, kunstkammer objects, finely decorated powder flasks and exhibits from European history dominated the 66th auction of Hermann Historica on May 21.
All specialist areas represented by the firm — antiquities, arms and armor, works of art, hunting antiques, orders and collectibles from military history — reported excellent results, with numerous lots fetching many times their estimated price. A total of approximately 5,500 collectors’ items came under the hammer.
The auction offered a diverse variety of objects from all ancient eras and regions in the antiquities catalog. Particularly impressive was a Chalcidian bronze helmet with the characteristically curved cheek pieces and skull emblazoned with palmettes, which was offered as a set with the matching, naturalistically modeled greaves by a private collection in southern Germany. Dating from the Fifth/Fourth Century BC, the set had a starting price of $32,000; however, the hammer finally fell at $46,000.
A Celtic ceremonial top adornment with figurative motifs dating from the Tenth to Eighth Century BC sold for $32,000; more than six times its estimated price. Probably used in cultic rites, the first-class bronze artwork has a male head with intricately worked hair on each side and a fine, emerald green patina. A Roman Hymenaeus, carved in white marble and attributed to the Second Century AD, came under the hammer for its limit of $25,000.
The arms and armor category started off with an array of kunstkammer objects. Finely worked horn continued to enjoy great popularity. One fine example was a large goblet, 93/5 inches tall and carved in one piece, circa 1800, from the horn of a male rhinoceros. A final price of $62,000 was posted for the decorative cup from the Indian subcontinent. Likewise, a silver mounted ebony casket from Augsburg, circa 1620, did not escape the buyers’ notice. Elaborately worked and embellished and with a reserve of $15,000, the museum-quality casket unleashed a bidding war at the auction, finally finding a buyer at $46,000.
Significant collectors’ items were on offer in antique arms and armor. Among them was a rarity in the form of a seemingly archaic, late Gothic crossbow covered with parchment with a sturdy prod made of horn and animal sinew. Produced circa 1500, the crossbow still retained the original prod anchors made of hemp cords and went out at $32,000.
As in previous auctions, the demand for historical edged weapons was consistently high across all sections; from a knightly Italian sword from the second half of the Fourteenth Century that sold for $13,500 to an antenna hilted sword, originally part of the Munich armory, which brought the same amount.
Additional highlights included, from the Orient and Asia section, an Eighteenth Century Ottoman gold-inlaid karabela with an ornamental silver grip covered in chased foliage designs, $13,000; from the military history and historical objects section, an oil portrait of Alexandre Feodorovitch d’Andrault Compte de Langeron (1763–1831), at $108,500; and from the personal property of members of the Bavarian and Austrian ruling houses, a reliquary was presented by the Belgian royal family to Franz Joseph I (1830–1916) and Empress Elisabeth (1837–1898) in 1888 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Emperor’s accession to the throne, $356,000.
Prices reported have been converted from euros to US dollars and include the buyer’s premium. For information, +49 89 18 14 15 or www.hermann-historica.com.