A phenomenal lineup and unprecedented bidding skirmishes at Hermann Historica – the textbook definition of the perfect auction!

At long last, from 16 to 20 May, the acclaimed Hermann Historica auction house finally opened its doors again for a classic live auction over the course of a week. Numerous buyers were determined not to miss out and made the most of the opportunity – which certainly paid dividends.

Works of art, antiquities and Asian art

On Monday, 16 May, almost 900 lots from the chapters of antiques, Asian art and works of art came under the hammer. 

Lot number 3, a formidable Egyptian mummy's mask, caused the first flurry of excitement. Despite opening at 750 euros, the wooden mask with the features of a lady from the
second half of the second millennium B.C. only changed hands for 5,000 euros. 

Moreover, a magnificent antenna dagger dating from circa 600 B.C. coaxed an enthusiast into investing more than ten times its estimate of 800 euros. The final price of the rare Celtic artefact, lot number 87, was 10,750 euros.



Nonetheless, the Chinese artworks, particularly the porcelain section, surpassed every-
thing that had gone before. Eleven telephone bidders, a slew of pre-sale offers and countless buyers on all platforms sent the price soaring for a – at first glance – rather unremarkable lacquered plate, supposedly dating from the 18th/19th century. Moderately valued at just 280 euros, a veritable barrage of offers broke the magic 10,000 euro threshold in a matter of seconds. However, the sale was only completed for an absolutely sensational 137,500 euros!


A number of whimsical objects were also well received by lovers of art. Among them was a gentleman's walking stick containing an integrated spy camera that was extremely advanced for its time (lot number 431). Collectors were delighted and an exchange of bids flared until the unusual piece by Ben Akiba of Berlin closed at 10,250 euros. 

Lot 536 also held buyers in thrall. The four heroic putti from the Marian column in Munich had a catalogue price of 1,500 euros. The rare porcelain figures from Nymphenburg now take pride of place in a new collection for 8,250 euros.

Another highlight was lot 632. A Romanesque capital from the 11th or 12th century had a reserve of 400 euros. However, the column finial in high relief was snapped up for well over ten times that amount, ultimately hammering at 5,750 euros.


Antique arms and armour

On Tuesday, 17 May, it was time for the just under 300 lots in the chapter of antique arms and armour. Here again, the fierce bidding contests kept the audience on tenterhooks. For example, a composite bow and quiver from China sold for well over ten times its asking price. Bids from 500 euros had been invited for the 19th century wooden bow. Together with the leather quiver and nine arrows, the set (lot number 1088) proved extremely popular, going on to fetch 7,250 euros.

In the helmet section, lot 1117 stood head and shoulders above the rest. With a limit of 10,000 euros, the German officer's morion had been etched and gilded by true master craftsmen. It achieved a gratifying 21,250 euros.

Next up, the eagerly awaited Viking swords also took the audience by storm. Despite each being listed at 12,000 euros, all three lots (1218 – 1220) chalked up excellent final prices. The most sought-after of the three was lot 1219, which changed hands for the round sum of 20,000 euros.



Five centuries of antique and modern firearms

The auction house almost managed to pass the 1,000-lot milestone. On Wednesday, 18 May 2022, some 967 lots were sold. Offers came thick and fast in response to the highly diverse selection. The sales quota of more than 85% probably speaks for itself.

Among the civil firearms, lot 2031 was very much in favour. With its guide price of 4,000 euros, the military matchlock musket, circa 1620, proved too tempting. In the end, one aficionado had to part with
9,750 euros.

Collectors had to dig somewhat deeper into their pockets for lot 2033. Dating from circa 1620, the exceptional wheellock musket commanded the handsome sum of 13,125 euros, its reserve of 5,000 euros notwithstanding.


Nonetheless, the lively interest in the pistols by Heckler & Koch was truly astounding. Following various bidding wars, some hotly contested, the auction house reported a number of final prices, the like of which had never been seen. Heading the parade is lot number 2439, an H&K P7. The hammer only fell at a spectacular 33,750 euros, dwarfing its estimate of 1,000 euros. Meanwhile, lot number 2442, a Heckler & Koch P7 M13 by Pakistan Ordnance Factories, was not far behind. Although offers from 1,500 euros were welcome, the pistol duly fetched no less than 31,250 euros. Lot number 2445, an engraved Heckler & Koch P7, complete with the original wooden case, had a minimum bid of 3,500 euros. Once again, the new owner had no choice but to spend 23,750 euros.

Furthermore, there was a whole host of successes in the service weapons section. The innumerable highlights among the modern small arms included a self-loading pistol, which was made in Austria by Salvator and Dormus (lot number 2719). Just a few are known to exist around the world. A model 1894/96 was announced at 15,000 euros before closing for a respectable 21,250 euros. 

Moreover, lot number 2762, another absolutely rare semi-auto pistol, the test weapon developed by Swiss master gunsmith Müller of Winterthur, had a limit of 12,000 euros. One collector's dream promptly came true for 27,500 euros.


Orders and Military Collectibles until 1918

On Thursday, 19 May, the historical auction house Hermann Historica opened its doors to fans of all things military. Over 350 lots in the "Orders and Military Collectibles until 1918" section came under the hammer during the morning. Hermann Historica then had a real treat in store for the late afternoon. The superlative "The Van Bosstraeten Collection" comprised almost 430 lots of the very finest quality. With enormous interest clearly apparent on all sides, there were bidding skirmishes galore. At the end of the day, just ten lots remained unsold.

From the very beginning, Hermann Historica set the bar high with some magnificent insignia. Lot number 3006, a rare Cross 2nd Class from the Order of St. Anna, opened at 15,000 euros. The exquisitely worked piece was fully three dimensional, featuring the finest enamel painting, and went on to entice the winning bid of 23,750 euros.

The following lot, number 3007, was equally unusual. Resplendent in gilt, the beautifully enamelled Cross 4th Class from the Order of St. George ultimately fetched 18,750 euros.


Among the French military antiques, a larger-than-life, 19th century bust of Napoleon was extremely well received. Estimated at 7,000 euros, the bust of polished, white marble was crowned with an appliquéd laurel wreath in bronze. The rare sculpture now graces a new collection for 20,000 euros.

Meanwhile, there was also an opportunity to acquire some fabulous memorabilia from imperial and royal houses. Here again, these lots were in great demand. Even during the run-up to the auction, a favourite gown worn by Empress Elisabeth of Austria had attracted enormous attention (Lot 3111). One lucky Sisi devotee snapped up the Empress' dress, a vision in lime green silk, for 20,000 euros, its catalogue price of 12,000 euros notwithstanding.


Moreover, known as the fairy tale king, Ludwig II of Bavaria is always popular with buyers. Offers from 5,000 euros had been invited for lot number 3219, a superb pair of water taps from Linderhof Palace. An avalanche of bids for the ornate handles, embellished with the swans so beloved of Ludwig II, drove the price up to 32,500 euros. By contrast, one royal fan invested a greater sum, namely 42,500 euros, in a neo-rococo wall-mounted console. With a reserve of 12,000 euros, the lavishly carved, gilt table also came from Linderhof, where it once stood in one of the the White Cabinets.



The Van Bosstraeten Collection

At three o'clock on the dot, it was time for the outstanding "The Van Bosstraeten Collection". No sooner had the first few lots been sold before it became clear that the auction was going to break records. 

For example, lot number 4068, an unparalled helmet for officers of the Brunswick Infantry Regiment No. 92, in beautiful condition, had been valued at 8,500 euros. Once worn by Johann Albrecht, Duke of Mecklenburg, who ruled the Duchy of Brunswick between 1907 and 1913, the helmet was acquired by an enthusiast for 27,500 euros.

The announcement of lot 4110 unleashed a veritable torrent of bids, however. The ensemble, one of the highlights of the collection, was truly second to none. A helmet for officers of the Garde du Corps Regiment, in virtually untouched condition, was now up for sale. The excellent condition of the silver-plated parade eagle with its gilt crown and the two complete storage cases made this lot a triumph. Although this sensational set had a limit of 18,000 euros, the hammer only fell at the spectacular sum of 80,000 euros.

Lot 4141 was a breathtakingly elegant cuirass that had been presented to the Garde du Corps Regiment by Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1897. In beautiful, barely worn condition, the exceptionally rare piece more than tripled its starting price of 8,500 euros, ultimately selling for 31,250 euros.


Orders & Military Collectibles from 1919 onwards

On the last day of the auction, Friday 20 May, the spotlight was on military antiques from 1919 onwards plus a Viennese collection of binoculars. All in all, collectors were spoiled for choice with a lineup of over 1,000 lots.

One extremely rare find was lot number 5263. Bids from 65,000 euros were invited for an "Enigma I" cipher machine that had lain undisturbed for decades. Marked with the serial number "A 14066", the device was deployed in the army and air force intelligence divisions from around 1937 onwards. Featuring three encryption rotors, all stamped with the same number, the machine ultimately coaxed an enthusiast into investing 112,500 euros.



Moreover, the second part of the collection on Collaboration in the Netherlands was received with keen interest – and an avalanche of bids. For 50 years, a wide variety of artefacts dating from the era of the Collaboration before and during World War II and relating to the national socialist movement, the "NSB" (Nationaal-Socialistische Beweging), along with organisations like the "NJS" (Nationale Jeugdstorm) and the "WA" (Weer Afdelingen) was meticulously assembled. Just like part one, the sales quota here was again close to the 100% mark, with a mere handful of the more than 120 lots failing to find a buyer. At the same time, the auction house reported a whole host of gratifying final prices. 


Among them was lot 5597, 20 editions of "SS Germanische Leithefte" and "SS Vormingsbladen" dating from the period 1941 to 1945. Despite their moderate estimate of 400 euros, the booklets went on to fetch 9,125 euros, an amazing over twenty-fold increase. Meanwhile, a rare plaque for a K.I.A. member of the Nationale Jeugdstorm, lot number 5613, now delights a new owner for 18,125 euros, its reserve of 1,500 euros notwithstanding. A rare "Nordwest" cuff title for enlisted men/NCOs had been valued at 1,000 euros. However, its announcement also unleashed a flurry of bids, culminating in the respectable sum of 11,875 euros. The third and final part of this collection will be coming under the hammer in the Autumn Auction at the end of October.


A Viennese Collection of Binoculars

Due to the considerable demand for the military antiques, the sale of the Viennese collection of binoculars was delayed by approximately 90 minutes. Nonetheless, it was certainly worth the wait. Illustrated in its own special catalogue, the collection of over 300 optical instruments spanned almost a century, tracing the development from the monocular folding telescope to the target bearing indicator on a German World War II U-boat.

The DF 7x50 wide-angle military model binoculars were developed by Ernst Leitz, circa 1917/18. The rare prototype with lot number 6116 had a starting price of 8,000 euros but only changed hands for 13,750 euros, in tribute to its immaculate condition.

Lot 6220 had been highly anticipated in the run-up to the auction. A series of just five DF 10x70 H binoculars were produced by Carl Zeiss in 1937. To our knowledge, only two are still in existence. One of them now opened at 20,000 euros and was snapped up for 25,000 euros.



For 16,250 euros, one lucky collector's dream of owning a pair of DF 8x60 "Slim" binoculars, also by C. Zeiss (Lot 6247), has now come true. Labelled with the code "blc", the Kriegsmarine MSS field glasses came complete with both the original case and the transport case and was open to bids from 8,000 euros.

Until 30 June, all unsold lots can now be purchased for their starting price. Moreover, we recommend you mark the dates of our forthcoming online-only auction in your diary, which takes place from 20 to 24 June.

As usual, please see for further details and the respective catalogues.


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