At Hermann Historica GmbH Spring Auction
This year’s large Spring Auction at Hermann Historica GmbH will take place in Munich from May 20-24, 2019. In addition to unequaled armor and helmets or sumptuous artifacts of royal and imperial provenance, the program showcases superlative masterpieces of the finest craftsmanship among the approximately 3650 lots from all periods and regions.
From time immemorial, a military career has been a source of aspiration in every profession, with combat both an honour and a duty that engenders pride for ruler and citizens alike. Even in the ancient world, serving members of the armies enjoyed a high social standing. Accordingly, no effort was spared in protecting the highly trained warriors of antiquity and the early armourers dedicated their entire range of skills to creating helmets and breastplates with exquisite workmanship.
Particular emphasis was placed on the elaborate helmets, which were designed not only to shield the wearer from the blows and thrusts of enemy swords and highlight his status, but also to clearly identify which unit he belonged to. The 79th Auction includes some extraordinary, even unsurpassed, rarities among the well preserved, early bronze helmets crafted by the highly skilled smiths of yesteryear.
One such, a broad Chalcidian helmet dating from the early fourth century, is certain to ennoble a new collection by virtue of its full-faced tin plating and outstanding condition. The contoured ribs in repoussé on the apertures for the ears and eyes, the lancet-shaped nose guard, the cheek pieces and the horizontal neck guard identify this helmet as an exponent of a regional variation in the late Chalcidian helmets, which were forged in the northern Black Sea area. The helmet is expected to fetch 18,000 euros.
Without a doubt, the design of a Pseudo-Chalcidian helmet from the same region and period, in impressive condition and sporting a beautiful patina – in short, a magnificent specimen of an antique helmet – reflects the above mentioned Greek type as the model for its adaptation by steppe nomads. The high skull is divided into two lobes, connected with rivets at the seam. Moreover, the helmet is embellished with an engraved line of zigzags and peaks, along with a border of chased linear ornaments. Here again, bids from 18,000 euros are welcome for this unusual piece.
Meanwhile, a comparable, equestrian nomadic helmet from the Sarmatian epoch is estimated at 15,000 euros. Dating from around the birth of Christ, a Roman bronze helmet of the Buggenum type completes the range in this section. As tool marks show, it was made on a lathe; furnished with perforations for the cheek pieces and topped with a short knob to insert the crest, the infantry helmet is completely undamaged and in original condition. Bidding starts at 15,000 euros for this unique lot.
Equally worthy of note is a Roman marble relief, which is to come under the hammer for 19,500 euros. The fragment of a third century sarcophagus eloquently reveals the identity of the deceased. Despite passing away at a relatively young age, he appears to have carved out a successful career as a food wholesaler, amassing a certain wealth in the process, which allowed him to be buried in an elaborate, figuratively decorated marble sarcophagus.
Furthermore, opening at 9,000 euros, the catalogue also lists an example of Viking silversmith craftsmanship from the tenth century, as attractive as it is rare. The captivating, highly effective pendant is hollow wrought in sheet silver in the shape of a bird, lavishly adorned with filigree and granulation, bedecked with interlaced bands.
Works of Art
According to tradition, the arms and armour catalogue opens with opulent works crafted by the most highly skilled artisans of all. Creating the most excitement here are caskets and coffers that were used to protect goods and chattels, featuring exceptionally sophisticated mechanisms and their very own style, all manufactured with the greatest of care. Dating from the 16th/17th century, a large coachman’s strongbox from Germany is secured with no less than four padlocks, an intricate hidden mechanism and three latches. Made of heavy sheet iron in the shape of a fortified tower, with sturdy, forge-welded strap reinforcements, the valuables that were stored in the sixty-centimetre tall casket were perfectly safe. The new owner will have to part with a minimum of 7,000 euros for this protection.
A large, Italian strongbox with rivets from the late 18th century is offered for auction from 6,000 euros. Standing a remarkable 123 centimetres tall, the wooden body is reinforced with riveted bands, arranged crosswise, and locked by means of secret mechanisms. By contrast, with its lavishly inlaid handle, a serving knife, or présentoir, was designed as an embellishment of everyday life rather than self-defence: at court feasts, it formed part of the ceremony of serving game. Crafted during the Maximilian Age, the first half of the 16th century, and set with fine inlays of bone and wood, the knife is now open to bids from 4,800 euros. Of slightly later date comes an engaging portrait of a young lady, decked out in a lace bonnet and ruff, by the noted Flemish portrait painter, Frans II Pourbus (1569 – 1622). Depicting a young woman in a dignified pose, with one hand resting on a chair, a leather pouch in the other, the three-quarter length portrait has an asking price of 9,000 euros.
Arms and Armour
Both in terms of numbers and quality, the array of outstanding helmets and armour from the workshops of medieval and early modern blacksmiths will not disappoint. A much sought-after prize is now on offer: an extremely rare Milanese barbute from 1460. During the Renaissance, the deep admiration of antiquity found expression in every aspect of everyday life. Thus, the design of defensive arms was also modeled on the ideals of ancient times.
The Corinthian helmets were accorded a special significance in this regard as they were considered the most imposing of the ancient world and replicated accordingly. At first glance barely distinguishable from its antique, Corinthian archetype, the helmet boasts exceptionally elegant lines and proportions, giving it an archaic, sleek appearance. With very few comparable helmets documented in prestigious collections, such as the Wallace Collection in London and the Armeria Reale in Turin, the rare barbute, forged in one piece with a pronounced medial ridge, is sure to coax an enthusiast into investing 45,000 euros.
Next up, skillfully decorated all over, is an etched, gilt morion from the golden age of the celebrated trabant guard of Christian I, Elector of Saxony (1560 – 1591), which was produced in Nuremberg at the end of the 16th century. Portraits of the Roman heroes Mucius Scaevola and Marcus Curtius, each in an etched, gilt cartouche, adorn both sides of the iron skull, the Saxon coat of arms on the roped comb indicates the place of deployment and a border of three-dimensional lion’s head rivets marches along the lower edge. Bids from 35,000 euros are now invited for this magnificent, remarkably graceful piece, whose shape is highly characteristic.
The armourers’ works invariably meet the highest standards of functionality and beauty: in this case, an exquisite, homogeneous suit of cuirassier’s armour in quality befitting an officer, dating from the early 17th century, shortly before the outbreak of the Thirty Years’ War, demonstrates that every element of the composition is also utilitarian. All pieces of the complete suit of blackened armour, comprising a heavy, bullet-proof breastplate with shot strike marks and a matching backplate, articulated arm defenses and cuisses, gorget, neck guard and gauntlets with finger guards, are furnished with turned, partially roped flanges to deflect attacks and fastened with brass-plated rivets. Combined with the striking contrast between the blackened surfaces and the finely polished edges, the suit is an absolute showstopper. Valued at 30,000 euros, the original suit of armour is topped with a blackened close helmet with a pivoted peak and visor, the edges of the sight slits struck inwards; the ventilation holes, arranged in rosettes on both sides, and a mouth slit ensured that the wearer received an adequate supply of breathing air.
The catalog lists another lot of extraordinary academic interest that warrants closer examination and consideration, namely several parts of an extremely early, rare chamfron. Manufactured in the Duchy of Styria in the 13th/14th century, with several pieces hinged together, the chamfron is of a type hitherto unknown. Highly unusual for defensive arms, the chamfron is dazzling in partially, fire-gilt copper, while the front is adorned with punched figurative and ornamental décor, a shield of gules a fess argent in red enamel and a chiselled Styrian lion. Virtually every sophisticated, artisanal metal technique has been used to embellish this horse armour, which was evidently made for use at court. Presumably originally attached to a leather backing, the chamfron is expected to fetch 10,000 euros.
Thanks to its excellent design and notable provenance, a significant German deluxe rapier, circa 1620, is certain to be well received. While the elegant blade is struck with the inscription “IN VIVI” on both sides, the ricasso is cut with triple fullers and expertly engraved with raised floral decoration, inlaid in silver. This challenging technique was also used on the guard ring, which is decorated with figures and leafy vines, and still bears remnants of fire gilding on a finely stippled background, and on the pommel, its décor in half relief, inlaid in silver and gilt copper. Truly a work of art and a classic example among the early modern edged weapons, documented for many years as part of the famous von Schulthess Collection, its brilliance will fire buyers’ enthusiasm, tempting bids of at least 45,000 euros.
Collectors will also be interested in the exclusive selection of medieval swords, only very few examples of which are preserved in prominent, old collections in Europe. These include a huge processional sword from Switzerland or South Germany, measuring 203 centimeters in length, with a limit of 15,000 euros. Forged circa 1500, all parts of the sword are in original condition, including the leather guard. Although suitable for use in combat, these oversized swords were ceremonial, for presentation at parades and processions. The parade of exceptional lots continues with a significant South German two-hand sword, circa 1580, in absolutely untouched, arsenal-maintained condition, now estimated at 12,000 euros. Unusually, even the leather cover and the blackening of the medieval edged weapon, struck with a smith’s mark, are completely intact.
About Hermann Historica
Hermann Historica GmbH, Munich, is one of the world’s leading auction houses in the special areas: antique arms and armours, hunting collectibles, antiquities, orders as well as objects from history and military history. Founded as early as almost 50 years ago by Count Erich Klenau von Klenova, Baron von Janowitz in Nuremberg as an auction house for coins, from the very beginning also orders and decorations as well as objects of military history were put up to auction. In the early seventies the range of the auctions was broadened by the category of “antique arms and armour”. The wide range was soon accepted by international collectors and museums.
In 1982 the present owners renamed the auction house Hermann Historica GmbH, and at least two auctions are conducted annually which address more than 40,000 clients worldwide. Particularly sensational are the numerous objects from the possessions of noble houses, notably those of the German and Austrian imperial family, which continue to attract international attention, the auctions dispersing complete collections such as the sale of the hunting treasures of Castle Fuschl in Salzburg, as well as the much-noticed sale of the unique collection Karsten Klingbeil of ”Arms and Armour” and the “Collection of Antique Greek and Roman Arms” of Axel Guttmann, the liquidation of the Nümbrecht Museum of Historical Technology, the worldwide biggest auctions of “Children’s Dreams on Wheels”, the pedal cars of the Centre of Extraordinary Museums in Munich. www.hermann-historica.com