Published: May 31, 2022
Review by Z.G. Burnett, Photos Courtesy Hermann Historica
GRASBRUNN, BAVARIA, GERMANY – The assembled top lots of Hermann Historica’s seven sales, May 16-20, paint a picture of an eccentric collector, self-isolated in a remote tower with ample funds to outfit their otherwise modest room with exquisite historic objects. Such was the range of these sales’ offerings, including fine works of art and antiquities, militaria and weaponry from before the common era up to the Twenty-First Century.
The first sale on May 16 focused on works of art, antiquities, Russian and Asian art. The final category came out first, with a red Eighteenth or Nineteenth Century lacquer plate that achieved $143,000. Another historically notable top lot was a set of four silver salt cellars by Giuseppe Valadier that were seasoned at just under $26,000. These were probably made for Camillo Borghese, Prince of Sulmano and Rossao and brother-in-law of Napoleon I.
An officer’s helmet of a German coopers’ guild, circa 1580 and attributed to Cologne, was victorious on the May 17 antique arms and armor auction at just below $22,000. Also known as a morion, it sports a narrow, tapering brim with a turned edge and a tall, toothed comb with a compass etched in its center. The helmet is decorated throughout with tendrils on a gilt background surrounding the guild insignia, flanked by two rampant goats. Guilds helped to defend individual towns and cities, especially when Germany was divided into warring principalities.
On May 18, the fine antique and modern firearms sale aimed more towards the latter. The top gun was a Heckler & Koch P7 9mm Luger in a good state of preservation with original bluing. This model was originally produced from 1979 to 2008 and realized nearly $35,600.
The Van Bosstraeten collection was up for sale on May 19, consisting of 424 lots of carefully curated pre-World War II militaria and related ephemera in mostly excellent condition. The front of the line was patrolled by an officer’s helmet from the Regiment of the Gardes du Corps, circa 1900. The lot included a silverplated parade eagle with a gilt crown, and two leather storage cases for both objects with intact straps. Both are of “superb quality and nearly no longer available,” and achieved $83,780.
On the same day, Hermann Historica conducted a sale of military orders and collectibles from up to 1918, featuring 15 lots from the collection of King Ludwig II of Bavaria (r 1864-86). The top lot boasted this provenance and had the style to confirm it: a neo-Rococo wall console table from the Linderhof castle, which received almost $44,510. Created by the royal court manufacturer Anton Pössenbacher in 1873, the table can be seen in a photograph of the first phase of the interior furnishings, captured by the royal court photographer in 1884.
The second highest-selling lot of this sale was an extensive group of documents related to the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Duchess Sophie of Hohenberg in 1914. From the estate of Lord Chamberlain Karl Freiherr von Rumerskirch (1867-1947), the documents included a handwritten draft of the autopsy report, manuscripts of notifications of the death and much more. The group filed away just over $37,960.
May 20 hosted two auctions, the first was the binocular collection of a single anonymous Viennese patron. Of the 324 lots, the highest was a pair of Kriegsmarine binoculars from C. Zeiss, made in 1937. The lot included an original tripod adapter and both were in excellent condition, selling for $26,450.
The second auction consisted of orders and military collectibles from 1919 onwards, with an Enigma machine that deciphered the top price at $118,900. The machine had wartime use but seemed untouched since then, resulting in good condition with some restoration required to be fully operational. The original wooden case was included in the lot, with instructions and spare parts, some original and some reproductions.
Prices quoted include exchange rates as calculated on the sale date and include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house. Hermann Historica’s next sales of the same categories will be conducted June 20-24. For information, www.hermann-historica.de.
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