Antiquities, Arms and Armour, Arts and Crafts at Hermann Historica's 61st Auction

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Antiquities, Arms and Armour, Arts and Crafts at Hermann Historica's 61st Auction
Black white three quarter armour, Nuremberg 1570.

MUNICH.- Between 28 April and 12 May 2011, Hermann Historica will hold its 61st auction on its extended premises in Linprunstraße. Approximately 7,700 lots will be offered for bidding in the upcoming spring auction – among them antiquities, arms and armour, arts and crafts objects, hunting collectibles, medals, and militaria.

Arms and armour, arts and crafts
Taking centre-stage in the ancient weapons section is a striking black and white three-quarter armour of officer’s quality from Nuremberg dating from around 1570, which is offered at a starting price of € 40,000 – a unique and excellently preserved set consisting of a burgonet, a ridged breastplate, arm and leg guards, and gauntlets. A suit of armour of such high quality and renowned provenance is rarely seen on the market.

An interesting version of an early visor helmet is the close helmet from ca. 1500/1510. This kind of helmet is usually referred to as Innsbruck work, but comparable helmets have also been made in Nuremberg, making an exact determination of its place of manufacture nearly impossible.

Also up for sale is a broad variety of medieval swords and daggers. Previous auctions have seen a number of swords from the Battle of Castillon (1453), which attracted the attention of many collectors. This year’s spring auction presents a sword of the same origin; featuring a slender tapered blade and a copper inlaid mark, the starting bid will be € 20,000. Among the group of objects from the River Lidoire in the vicinity of Castillon-la-Bataille, eighty medieval swords are documented, but only three daggers. It is therefore a minor sensation that one of these rare daggers, a piece with a slender blade of diamond section and semicircular pommel, will be introduced at € 7,000.

Of later date, but no less remarkable is a very rare, finely crafted small-sword from 1640. Bidding for the intricately decorated, chiselled weapon from North Germany will begin at € 12,000.

The ancient weapons catalogue also presents a vast selection of arts and crafts – a section which has steadily grown over the years, strengthening Hermann Historica’s position on the market, and it is therefore no surprise that this year’s spring sale offers a number of unusual and rare objects of impressive craftsmanship, such as two finely carved wood caskets from the first half of the 17th century: a beautiful and intricately worked walnut and spruce cabinet from 1620 is offered at a starting price of € 5,500, while a slightly simpler designed cabinet from Augsburg, manufactured around 1650, is expected to fetch at least € 2,900. Also well worth noting are two other baroque pieces, a German playboard from 1720 with fine marquetry decorations of fine woods and playing surfaces for backgammon, nine men’s morris and chess (€ 6,500), and a richly embellished guild chest (€ 2,800).

The Orient and the Far East
Unique objects from the Far East and the Orient have attracted the attention of many collectors well in advance of the auction. A spectacular lot is a Chinese rhinoceros horn cup from the Kangxi Period (1661 - 1722). The horn is carved in several layers and is decorated with scrolling flowers, buds, and lotus leaves – a technique extremely seldom used with this valuable horn due to the significant loss of material. Bidding for the 24 cm tall and 493 grams heavy cup, which formerly belonged to a Bochum Collection, will begin at € 12,000.

Also up for sale is an impressive array of elaborately decorated powder flasks from Cherkessia and India. Carved of horn or wood and partially inlaid with ivory or lacquer, the valuable powder flasks symbolise the social status and importance of the owner; the starting prices for these items range between € 2,000 and € 6,000.

Offered for bidding is also a great selection of richly decorated, exquisite Oriental weapons, for example a gold and ivory decorated kinjal from the late 19th century, which is expected to fetch at least € 3,900. A silver inlaid yataghan from 1810 will be introduced at € 2,000.

Day five of the auction centres on antiquities. Among the lots are extremely rare objects of ancient military history, such as a cavalryman’s military diploma issued in 146 A.C. under the reign of Emperor Antoninus Pius. The recipient was rewarded for at least 25 years of army service with a certificate granting him Roman citizenship (€ 12,000). Another highlight is a gold bordered Illyrian helmet dating from the 6th/5th century B.C. In spite of its characteristic features, such as the round skull and the parallel ridges, the helmet is rather atypical in that it is embellished with a border of fine sheet gold. This beautiful and well preserved piece is offered at € 15,000.

Also well worth noting is a Roman balsamarium from the 1st/2nd century AD, which is expected to fetch at least € 6,000. The container is cast entirely in bronze; the bust of a cupid with a straw hat is extremely finely modelled, with eyes and nipples highlighted by silver inlays. The vessel bears a hinged lid incorporated into the top of the hat and movable side loops.

The sale also comprises a stunning selection of militaria, medals and historical collectibles which will certainly attract the attention of many international clients.

The unwavering interest in Russian objects is met by a wide variety of high quality items, such as a First Class Breast Star of the Order of St. Anne from 1899. The piece at hand formerly belonged to the Yusupov family (Prince Felix Yusupov winning dubious fame as one of Rasputin's murderers) and is offered at a starting price of € 15,000. Among the highlights of the Russian section are also a helmet of the dragoon regiment in the style after 1910 with a transverse bear skin crest (€ 7,500) and a superb helmet for enlisted men from the Mounted Life Guard Regiments decorated with a gilt eagle (€ 12,000). Also well worth noting are two significant works of famous Russian gun makers: a striking flintlock sporting musket from the workshop of Ivan Krapiventsov, which is very similar to a piece housed at the National Hermitage in St. Petersburg; made in Tula around 1780, the rifle is richly decorated with intricate gold and silver wire inlays and is expected to fetch at least € 50,000. A slightly less lavishly decorated gold inlaid flintlock shotgun from the workshop of the St. Petersburg gunsmith Karl Beckmann dating from 1800 can be purchased at a starting price of € 25,000.

The 61st auction will also bring together rare objects from other countries, such as a unique sabre for a high-ranking naval officer of the French Ancien Régime from around 1760/80. The weapon is signed "Dida Marchd. & Fourbisseur Dans La Rue Ste. Catrine à Bourdeaux" and offered at € 20,000; a court sword with an identical signature is housed in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Another beautiful piece is a heavy silver sabre for a Hungarian magnate with ceremonial accessories and case from around 1870 (€ 9,500). All pieces of the set are made of gilt and enamelled silver richly set with blue glass gems and stamped with a Viennese hallmark.

Firearms of five centuries
This spring sale also features a wide selection of high quality antique firearms. Among the lots are two cased percussion pistols from France and a wheellock puffer from Saxony. While the finely incised and decorated pistols made by Auguste Francotte in 1850, with all accessories and its original case, are offered at € 10,000, the well preserved wheellock puffer for enlisted men of the Saxon Electorate Palace Life Guards from 1580/90 is expected to fetch at least € 15,000. Another spectacular piece is a French silver-mounted and gold-inlaid flintlock shotgun from 1810, which is introduced at € 45,000.

All mentioned hammer prices are net prices and do not include the obligatory premium of 23 percent. The pre-sale viewing takes place from 18th to 21st April and from 26th to 27th April on the premises of Hermann Historica oHG, Munich.

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