Excellent prices were realized in the Gorny & Mosch Fall Auction. Above all, the Archaic coins from Athens and the collection of exquisite German thalers achieved five-digit hammer prices. However, Poland caused more than one surprise, too.
During the week from October 5 to 9, 2015, coin collectors gathered in Munich. Presented in no less than three catalogs, a rich assemblage of numismatic items was to cross the auction block at Gorny & Mosch. The material covered all from high-quality ancient coins to modern art medals, from ‘A’ as in Albania to ‘Z’ as in the German name of Cyrus, Zypern. All sessions saw solid results; nevertheless, it was, first and foremost, the high-quality ancient coins, the magnificent thaler from pre-1871 Germany and several Polish rarities that caused fierce bidding fights.
Auction 232 – High-Quality Ancient Coins
What happened in Auction 232 could easily be summarized as follows: Outstanding material obtains an outstanding price. This goes for all sections, whether Celtic, Greek or Roman coins. Let us have a brief look at the Celtic rainbow cup of the bird’s head type. Especially well struck, it rose from its pre-sale estimate of 5,000 to 8,500 euros. Or take the gorgeous early tetradrachm from Leontinoi, which was auctioned off by Sambon-Canessa in 1927. Estimated at 7,500 euros, the final bid was no less than 10,000 euros.
All eyes were on the auctioneer when he started to call out the comprehensive series of coins from the city of Athens. Exhibiting a gorgon‘s head on its obverse, already the first item offered for sale, a didrachm, achieved 42,000 euros (estimate: 15,000 euros).
The following coins also obtained results in the five-digit region:
- €18,000 (didrachm / gorgoneion / estimate: €5,000)
- €15,000 (didrachm / horse protome / estimate: €12,000)
- €20,000 (didrachm / bovine head / estimate: €15,000)
- €36,000 (didrachm / scarab / estimate: €15,000)
- €13,000 (drachm / horse hindquarters / estimate: €5,000)
The early tetradrachms, the ‘owls’, on the other hand, ranged in the four-digit region: 6,500 euros (estimate: 5,000 euros), 7,500 euros (estimate: 3,000 euros), 9,500 euros (estimate: 8,000 euros) – we could go on like this. Not a single specimen was unsold.
Two amazing results vouched for the fact that smaller denominations are today just as popular as tetradrachms: Estimated at 3,000 euros, an Archaic drachm was auctioned off for an impressive 34,000 euros, while a triobol rose to 13,000 euros on a pre-sale estimate of 2,000 euros. Only a decade ago, such results would have been impossible to achieve.
In Auction 232, Gorny & Mosch offered nearly 20 coins from Crete. For Crete, this is a rather large number. The special collectors, therefore, were there to bid for their favorite item. Heavy bidding fights were already caused by the first item on the auction block, a stater from Aptera, which found a new owner for 5,000 euros (estimate: 1,200 euros). Collectors gladly paid 6,500 euros each for an exceptionally well struck stater from Lyttos (estimate: 1,000 euros) and a ‘just’ very fine but extremely rare stater from Praisos featuring the depiction of a helmeted archer (estimate: 800 euros).
Leaving the Greek department, we are now turning to Rome. In this session, Gorny & Mosch offered an extremely rare gold coin struck soon after the monetary reform of 211. Whereas anonymous gold coins in the weight of 60 asses are a comparatively frequently seen on the market, there is only a very small number of specimens known to exist with a nominal value of 40 asses. This found its expression in the hammer price. Realizing 55,000 euros, the coin more than doubled its pre-sale estimate of 25,000 euros.
As we’ve said: Whether gold, silver or bronze, exceptional items are quite easy to sell. So let us present to you one Roman example each.
Gold is represented by an aureus of Philip the Arab, graded FDC; rare and of fine style, it realized 46,000 euros (estimate: 32,000 euros). An antoninianus of Zenobia stands for silver, yet we have to acknowledge that the so-called silver coins hardly contained any silver in those days anymore. Nevertheless, the portrait of the empress of Palmyra, graded very fine to extremely fine, achieved a result of 13,000 euros (estimate: 4,000 euros).
Of course, a small follis in very fine is an item of the bronze category. By the estimate of 3,000 euros, everyone could see that this tiny coin was something very special. This sum was related to one of the rarely found coin images which symbolize the Christian policy of Constantine the Great: a labarum standing on a coiling snake. The proud new owner gladly paid 4,600 euros for this specimen.
To conclude this overview of Auction 232, let us mention the medallion of Valentinian I. The multiple of 9 aurei with a contemporary mounting was auctioned off for 80,000 euros (estimate: 75,000 euros).
Auction 233 – Ancient Coins and Multiple Lots
The fact that the collectors examined Auction 233 with special care became apparent every time a modestly estimated specimen achieved several times its appraisal, because several potential buyers had spotted a rarity. A case in point is the originally quite unspectacular bronze, graded very fine, which crossed the auction block as federal coinage in the Phocis session. It was minted in Antikyra which is a familiar name to every reader of Homer. Introducing the Greek contingent that sailed to Troy, the author lists this place in his Catalog of Ships. Pausanias described Antikyra in great detail, and it is a real pity that there are so few coins extant which could serve as an illustration of his account. The specimen on offer in Auction 233 is the third example of this type known to exist. One collector, therefore, willingly paid 2,200 euros for the coin (estimate: 400 euros).
At first sight, the hammer price of an antoninianus of Diocletian, not rare at all but obtaining no less than 1,800 euros, seemed like a typo (estimate: 100 euros). But as we said before, collectors look carefully. And everybody who had done this had to admit that this specimen was the best preserved antoninianus of Diocletian he ever had seen in his collector live. Browsing carefully through catalog 233, therefore, paid off.
Auction 234 – Medieval and Modern Coins
Before the auction even started it was obvious that many bidders would attend the sale to participate when the material from the pre-1871 Germany section crossed the auction block. Accordingly good results were obtained. Let us begin with a small number of Augsburg thaler, in grades that marks every single piece a little bijou. Admittedly not rare and therefore estimated at only 5,800 euros, the total hammer price of all pieces, however, amounted to 11,000 euros, which was nearly two times the pre-sale estimates.
But this was only the beginning of the sale. The next two hours witnessed any number of noteworthy five-digit results. To mention only the most spectacular:
- Bavaria, 1777 gold medal (estimate: €25,000 / hammer price: €46,000)
- Bretzenheim, 1790 ducat (estimate: €6,500 / hammer price: €13,000)
- Corvey, 1652 thaler (estimate: €10,000 / hammer price: €14,000)
- Friedberg, 1591 double thaler (estimate: €40,000 / hammer price: €65,000)
- Magdeburg, 1673 double thaler (estimate: €30,000 / hammer price: €44,000)
- Pomerania-Stettin, 1614 double thaler (estimate: €15,000 / hammer price: €20,000)
- Regensburg, 1714 presentation piece of 10 ducats (estimate: €15,000 / hammer price: €23,000)
- Saxony, 1830 prämienthaler (estimate: €20,000 / hammer price: €32,000)
- Wuerttemberg-Oels, 1874 double thaler (estimate: €15,000 / hammer price: €22,000)
Anyone inclined to believe that the most expensive coin could be found in the pre-1871 Germany section, however, was proven wrong by the results of the sale. Realizing 85,000 euros, the rarest imperial gold coin type of all, the 1872 20 mark of Ernest II of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, became the top-seller (estimate: 65,000 euros).
Looking at such prices, one could wonder if there are any inexpensive collecting fields left at all. As a matter of fact, there are. Modern art medals are grossly underestimated. Responsible for this is by no means a lack of artistic skill on the part of the medalists; rather, it is due to a minting industry going excessively wild in the 1970s that art medals continue to be ill-reputed among collectors. This makes the medals the only genre of Modern artistic creativity that is not affected by the current price increase for contemporary art.
Let us take the series of medals created by the world-renowned, multiple award-winning medalist Kauko Räsänen (+ September 2015) which constituted a part of the material offered for sale at this Gorny & Mosch auction. The modest appraisals amounting to sums ranging between 50 and 1,000 euros, most specimens had pre-sale estimates somewhere between 100 and 200 euros. Most medals just realized their starting price, while a greater number of specimens were left unsold. If you are looking for a collecting area with a real potential, you might want to consider collecting contemporary art medals.
The Holy Roman Empire, in contrast, does not suffer from a shortage of collectors, as evidenced by the results. Only a few results may suffice:
- A very rare Lienz cup-shaped denar from the County of Gorizia, for example, achieved €7,500 (estimate: €3,000)
- An extremely rare 1653 double ducat, struck in St. Veit by Ferdinand III, obtained €13,000 (estimate: €5,000)
- A 1864 quadruple ducat, made in the Vienna Mint, realized €11,000 (estimate: €7,500)
Let us have a brief look at the foreign countries as well. In this department, Poland became the top-seller. Rising from its pre-sale estimate of 50,000 euros to no less than 90,000 euros, a 1580 thaler of Stephen Bathory, produced in the Olkusz Mint, was the most expensive item of the entire auction sale. A 1766 ducat of Stanislaw August Poniatowski, struck in the Warsaw Mint, on the other hand, far exceeded its appraisal of 7,500 euros when it was auctioned off for as much as 36,000 euros.
All results can be viewed on the internet at https://www.gmcoinart.de/Results.AxCMS? or https://auctionen.gmcoinart.de/Auction/Onlinekatalog?intAuctionsId=191.
The next auction of Ancient Art will be conducted on December 16, 2015. The next coin auction is planned for March 7-11, 2016. Consignments are accepted until December 18, 2015. Please contact Gorny & Mosch, Giessener Münzhandlung, Maximiliansplatz 20, D-80333 Munich, phone +49 / (0)89 / 24 22 643-0, fax +49 / (0)89 / 22 85 513.
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