Published: June 17, 2008
Participants in Hermann Historica’s 54th auction, which closed April 17, were able to witness a fascinating contrast between the ancient and the modern world. Months before the event, museums, art dealers and collectors from all over the world had signaled a strong interest in the approximately 100 ancient weapons of the renowned Guttmann collection. It was therefore no surprise that the auction room was full and bursting with suspense as soon as the sale began; the bidders in the room competed with those on the Internet and telephone for these objects of excellent quality.
Among them was a set of Greek armor comprising a Corinthian helmet with breastplate and a pair of greaves dating from the Seventh to Fifth Century BC. It achieved $158,600.
The imaginative design of ancient helmets was evident in two Roman helmets that had not been previously accessible to the public. The fragment of a Roman parade helmet with eagle heads was unique and was introduced at a starting price of $30,000; it sold for $86,000. For a Roman helmet of the Weisenau type, a private collector paid even more †$91,000. The fact that all the objects from the Guttmann collection were sold proves once again the strong demand of unusual pieces from a reliable, well-known source.
Precious, intricately decorated Oriental arms have always attracted the attention of collectors from all over the world. In this auction, there was a vast supply of suitable objects available. The price for a gold-inlaid Ottoman Kilij dating from the Seventeenth Century exceeded its starting price of $7,800 to sell for $36,600. A Shamshir from the Nineteenth Century, gold-inlaid and with rhinoceros horn grip scales, made $22,000. The bidding for an Islamic sword blade dating from the Twelfth⁔hirteenth Century, bearing only one inscription, but otherwise in good condition, began at $7,800 and eventually sold for $34,800.
As in the firm’s previous auctions, a considerable number of lots presented in the catalog Firearms of Five Centuries were sold at top prices. An elaborately chiseled, all-metal flintlock pocket pistol manufactured in the late Eighteenth Century in the Russian gunsmith city of Tula brought $34,800. For the same price, a pair of cased percussion pistols made by the Berlin court gunsmith F.A. George, circa 1850, found a new owner. A muzzle-loading air pistol dating from 1730 with silver decorations and engraved brass fittings fetched $29,900.
The white morning dress of Hortense de Beauharnais (1783‱837), daughter of Napoleon Bonaparte’s wife Josephine, achieved $17,700. Henri de Bourbon, Duc de Bordeaux, Comte de Chambord (1820‸3) was the king of France for only seven days. After he was removed from office, he attempted to ascend the throne a second time, following the motto on his silver court rapier At Spes Non Fracta (the hope remains unbroken). Bidders seeking to buy this rapier for the starting price of $3,900 were soon disappointed, however, as the hammer finally fell at $19,300.
There was also a strong interest in memorabilia of other famous personalities †the most remarkable example was the successful bid for seven photo albums from the property of Ernst Udet, which achieved $69,600.
Prices reported have been converted from euros to US dollars and include the 23 percent buyer’s premium. For information, +49 89-18 14 15 or www.hermann-historica.com .
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