It took Künker in Osnabrück six days to sell all the 9,451 lots of their auctions 253 to 257 featuring coins, medals, banknotes, coin scales and much more. The total estimate of 7.9 million euros rose to 11.4 million euros total hammer price. 3,200 bidders participated in this event, either in person, by placing the bid by letter, telephone and via the internet. They all made sure that every rarity was recognized as such. This is the only explanation for the fact that an unimpressive Russian decoration presented to officers having participated at the Capture of Ismail on December 11, 1790 – which was not even an original but a restrike made in the 19th century – rose from 5,000 euros to 100,000 euros in the end. One thing is for sure: collectors are the experts when it comes to acknowledging the rarity of a specimen.
Auction sale 253 – Orders and Decorations
Let’s start with the lots of the Beyreiss Collection, decorations of the Duchy of Oldenburg, which obtained impressive prices. The insignia of Oldenburg’s House and Merit Order instituted by Duke Peter Frederick Louis with the gold Grand Cross on a chain rose from 20,000 euros to 24,000 euros, a Grand Commander set with swords of the same order started with from 7,500 euros and was hammered down at 17,000 euros.
Yet the true surprises were hidden amongst the world decorations. Who would have guessed that the jewel of the Grand Cordon of the Albanian Order of Fidelity would obtain 18,000 euros (estimate: 7,500 euros), the order chain of the Danish Order of the Dannebrog 15,000 euros (estimate: 5,000 euros), the Grand Cross Collar Set of the Knightly Order of the White Rose of Finland 65,000 euros (estimate: 15,000 euros), the collar set of the Papal Order of the Golden Spur 22,000 euros (estimate: 5,000 euros) and the set of the Ottoman Order of Osmanieh 70,000 euros (estimate: 40,000 euros).
We all know that Russia is always good for a surprise. Auction sale #253 vouched for the truth in that once again. It was not only the pieces that came with the highest estimates that sprang a surprise, though. A beautiful badge of the ‘Committee for pleasure navigation’ from 1908 sold for 3,100 euros, that is 31 times its estimate of 100 euros!
It was something of a disappointment for all attendants that collar, jewel and breast star of the Imperial Order of St. Andrew the Apostle the First-Called from the possession of a member of the Romanov family went for its calling price of ‘merely’ 600,000 euros. But you have to bear in mind that 600,000 euros still is an incredible price for a Russian order!
Auction sale 254 – Coins and Medals from Medieval and Modern Times
Right now, Great Britain is very popular, as could be seen in auction sale #254. On offer was a small series of early English Pennies in an extraordinary condition. The hammer prices confirmed the popularity of that field: a penny of Eadgar (959-975) rose from 3,000 euros to 9,000 euros, a penny of Edward the Confessor (1042-1066) from 750 euros to 3,200 euros and a groat with a magnificent en face-portrait of Henry VIII from 500 euros to 3,800 euros. A medal from Scotland surpassed its pre-sale estimate to an even greater extent. This extremely rare silver medal on the wedding of Mary with Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, had been estimated at 750 euros, only to be auctioned off for 9,500 euros in the end.
Naturally, other areas saw splendid results as well. Cases in point are an extremely rare ½ thaler 1735 from Ragusa that obtained 6,500 euros (estimate: 300 euros), a Chinese dollar from the Pei-Yang Province from 1907 that brought 24,000 euros (estimate: 5,000 euros) and the famous first guldiner from the Hall Mint from 1486 in a perfect state of preservation with a result of 19,000 euros (estimate: 7,500 euros).
Auction sale #254 offered, amongst others, the Nussmann Collection, comprising about 240 lots with coins from the Princely County of Henneberg. Experts could spot all the great rarities, like a presentation piece of 3 thaler bearing the portrait of William VI (1492-1559), dating from 1557. Its hammer price was 10,000 euros on a pre-sale estimate of 5,000 euros. Even bigger, proportionally, was the price increase of a unique thaler of William VI from 1538 (estimate: 2,000 euros / hammer price: 6,500 euros), an extremely rare ¼ thaler of George Ernest from 1562 (estimate: 2,000 euros / hammer price: 6,000 euros) and a yielding thaler of the County of Henneberg from 1698, minted in Ilmenau (estimate: 450 euros / hammer price: 2,500 euros).
Paper money obtaining excellent prices at Künker’s is vouched for by these exorbitant results: a 50 mark reichskassenschein of the German Empire from 1882, for example, came with a calling price of 3,000 euros but changed hands only for 6,500 euros. A 5 dollar banknote of the Tsingtau Branch of the Deutsch-Asiatische Bank even realized 16,000 euros on the same estimate. The most expensive banknote was – and this is anything but a surprise – a Russian item: the 100 rouble note from 1892 cost its new owner 22,000 euros (estimate: 10,000 euros).
Auction sale 255 –Horn Collection, Part I / English Coins until 1658 / Russian Coins and Medals
On Tuesday afternoon the first part of the Horn Collection was auctioned off – it was a great success. The 695 lots, whose estimates had added up to 390.000 euros, brought a total hammer price of 710.000 euros.
The Horn Collection is one of the last great universal collections from the pre-WW II era. Comprising 45,000 coins or so, it makes a one-of-a-kind ensemble that offers not only the important rarities but likewise fractions in an astonishing condition. Magnificent prices were to be expected therefore. A telling example is the small series of Greek copper coins from the time of Otto I of 1, 2 and 5 lepta, all very rare in this condition. They obtained 4,000 (5 lepta, estimate: 750 euros), 3,200 (2 lepta, estimate: 1,000 euros) and 2,200 euros (1 lepton, estimate: 1,000 euros).
Many items of course were much more expensive. The highest price was obtained by a gorgeous löser of 10 reichsthaler from Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel struck in 1609. The specimen that had been estimated at 25,000 euros was sold for 29,000 euros in the end. An impressive result was achieved by the cover piece as well, a reichsthaler of the Duchy of Saxe-Weimar from 1654 on the taking over of the presidency of the University of Jena by Bernhard of Saxe-Jena (estimate: 5,000 euros / hammer price: 13,000 euros). Let us conclude this section with a Swiss rarity, an extremely rare ½ thaler of the cantons Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden from 1561, which started with 2,500 euros only to obtain as much as 10,000 euros in the end.
The second part of this auction sale, offering English coins since 1658, likewise witnessed impressive results that testify to Great Britain’s very good standing at the moment. The total estimate had been 150.000 euros. The total hammer price added up to 290.000 euros.
Russian coins always being good for a surprise was proven by the final part of this special auction sale. At this point, we restrict ourselves to mention the three most expensive items only: a roubel of Peter I from 1720 with ornament circle – only one similar piece was available on the market during the last decade – rose from its estimate of 20,000 euros to 77,500 euros. An extremely rare poltina of Peter I from the Prokop Collection, struck in the Kadashevsky Mint in 1702, realized 38,000 euros on a pre-sale estimate of 10,000 euros. The third example is one of these inconspicuous fractions that had only recently begun to be appreciated. The extremely rare and extraordinarily well preserved example of a ½ kopek from St. Petersburg from 1871 had come with an already impressive estimate of 5,000 euros, only to be auctioned off for as much as 42,000 euros.
Auction sale 256 – Gold Coins / German Coins until 1871
Gold coins are very much en vogue right now. As are the coins from Great Britain. So what is the trend of trends? You are right: Gold coins from Great Britain. These are three cases in point: the ryal of Queen Mary, minted in London in 1553, had come with a pre-sale estimate of 30,000 euros and obtained 48,000 euros. Even more impressive was the increase in the case of a 5 guineas piece from 1692. The extremely fine coin had been estimated at 6,000 euros and was sold for ten times that sum, i.e. for 60,000 euros. The 40,000 euros that were yielded by a 5 guineas piece from 1748 seem somewhat modest in comparison. After all, it was ‘just’ four times the estimate of 10,000 euros.
The large series of Swiss gold witnessed some outstanding results as well, like, for example, a 4 ducat piece from Bern 1796 in about extremely fine (5,000 / 17,000 euros) and a duplone 1813 of the canton of Graubünden made of gold from the Calanda mine (12,500 / 20,000 euros).
Let us conclude the gold not with the highest but the most interesting result. Right now, coins related to Czech history are very popular. Two days before, a reichsthaler of Albrecht of Wallenstein, minted in Jicin in 1627, that had been estimated at 5,000 euros, brought 22,000 euros. The gold coins of auction sale #256 included another piece from Bohemia and Moravia, an extremely rare gold gulden of John of Luxembourg (1310-1346). Its hammer price was not the expected 2,500 euros but 12,000 euros.
Last but not least some impressive results of the German Imperial coinage after 1871: the extremely rare Prussian 10 mark piece 1878 B rose from 50,000 euros to 60,000 euros, the 20 mark piece of Ernest II of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha dating from 1872, rarest imperial gold coin type of all, was sold for 52,500 euros (estimate: 40,000 euros), and a 5 mark pattern of the GDR from 1986 “Einstein Tower” obtained 28,000 euros (estimate: 20,000 euros).
Auction sale 257 – Ancient Coins
Despite the faint traces of fatigue in the faces of the Künker team, there was another auction sale consisting of highlights scheduled! It comprised ancient coins featuring among others the collection formed by a connoisseur.
The most expensive Greek coin became a Syracusan decadrachm of Euainetos from 405. It had been estimated at 35,000 euros but yielded 65,000. The flight of the slightly later 100 litra piece made of gold with the depiction of Hercules strangling the lion was not quite that spectacular. Coming with the same estimate, it was sold for 44,000 euros. One of the rarities that collector instantly recognize as such was a stater from Cilician Tarsus with the depiction of the Persian King of Kings both on obverse and reverse. The extremely rare and highly interesting piece had been modestly estimated at 1,500 euros but rose to 17,000 euros in the end.
The collection formed by a connoisseur included – how could it be any different – several perfectly preserved items, including one the best aurei of the well-known emission of Hirtius for C. Julius Caesar the market had seen in the last years. Having been estimated at 3,500 euros, it yielded 14,000 euros. A fantastic as of Emperor Hadrian with the depiction of AEGYPTOS on the reverse had been estimated at 4,000 euros, but was sold for as much as 26,000 euros.
Even higher was the price increase of many of the aurei that were offered for sale as part of the Roman coins. An aureus of Lucius Verus changed hands for 34,000 euros (estimate: 25,000 euros) and an aureus of Licinius II for 77,500 euros (estimate: 60,000 euros). Yet rare silver coins can achieve impressive results too, as was evidenced by an off-strike of an aureus of Emperor Postumus, minted in Cologne in 268 with the depiction of Hercules fighting the Lernaean hydra.
One last example testifies to the collection of smaller denominations produced in the Alexandria Mint being at least as fascinating to the special collector as the aurei: an extremely rare hemiobelion from 112/3, condition fine to very fine, obtained 550 euros, hence 11 times its pre-sale estimate.
You can view all results on the internet at https://www.kuenker.de/de/auction saleen/auction sales-uebersicht/253-257
Lot 150: OLDENBURG – BEYREISS COLLECTION. Oldenburg House and Merit Order of Duke Peter Frederick Louis. BWK2 38. 40. 44. Extremely rare. II
Estimate: 20,000,- euros. Hammer price: 24,000,- euros.
Lot 1121: RUSSIA. Imperial Order of St. Andrew the Apostle the First-Called. Collar set consisting of collar, jewel and breast star. RRU 1, 2 and 3. Extremely rare. I-II
Estimate: 750,000,- euros. Hammer price: 600,000,- euros.
Lot 1197: RUSSIA. Cross “Capture of Ismail”. December 11, 1790, restrike made in the 19th century. RRU 72. Extremely rare. 1, II.
Estimate: 5,000,- euros. Hammer price: 100,000 euros.
Lot 2182: ENGLAND. Eadgar (959-975). Penny, around 959-973. North 750. Extremely rare. Ex Stack Collection, auction sale Sotheby’s, London 1999, Lot 488. Very fine to extremely fine.
Estimate: 3,000,- euros. Hammer price: 9,000,- euros.
Lot 2246: SCOTLAND, Mary ( 1542-1567). Silver medal, 1565 (on her wedding with Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley on July 29). Hawkins p. 115. 44. Very rare. Very fine.
Estimate: 750,- euros. Hammer price: 9,500,- euros.
Lot 2940: HABSBURG – TYROL. Archduke Sigismund, Rich in Coins (1446-1496). Guldiner, 1486, Hall. Dav. 8087. Ex Köhlmoos Coll. 91 (2001), 795. Very rare in this condition. Extremely fine.
Estimate: 7,500,- euros. Hammer price: 19,000,- euros.
Lot 3287: HENNEBERG. William VI (1492-1559). Presentation piece in the weight of 3 thaler 1557 (coinage from later times, presumably made the 16th or the 17th cent.). Heus p. 187, fig. 107. Single known specimen of this weight. About extremely fine.
Estimate: 5,000,- euros. Hammer price: 10,000,- euros.
Lot 3955: FRIEDLAND. Albrecht of Wallenstein (1623-1634). Reichsthaler 1627, Jicin. Dav. 3439. Ex Köhlmoos Coll. 91 (2001), 898. Very rare. Very fine.
Estimate: 5,000,- euros. Hammer price: 22,000,- euros.
Lot 4105: RUSSIA. 100 roubels 1892. Pick A53. Extremely rare. III+
Estimate: 10,000,- euros. Hammer price: 22,000,- euros.
Lot 5092: HORN COLLECTION – SAXE-WEIMAR. William (1640-1662). 1/2 reichsthaler 1654, Weimar, on the taking over of the presidency of the University of Jena by Bernhard of Saxe-Jena. Schnee 372. Very rare. First strike. About uncirculated.
Estimate: 5,000,- euros. Hammer price: 13,000,- euros.
Lot 5198: COLLECTION GREAT BRITAIN. Cromwell (1653-1658). 1/2 crown 1658, London. Seaby 3227A. Ex Leu 75 (1999), 607. Very rare in this condition. Extremely fine to uncirculated.
Estimate: 4,000,- euros. Hammer price: 13,000,- euros.
Lot 5596: RUSSIA. Peter I (1682-1725). Roubel 1720 (Cyrillic), Moscow, Kadashevsky Mint. Dav. 1654. Very rare. About extremely fine.
Estimate: 20,000,- euros. Hammer price: 77,500,- euros
Lot 5899: RUSSIA. Alexander II (1855-1881). Co.-1/2 kopek, 1871, St. Petersburg. Bitkin 547 (R3). Ex Antonin Prokop Coll. 6 (2002), 331. Of utmost rarity. About uncirculated.
Estimate: 5,000,- euros. Hammer price: 42,000,- euros.
Lot 6634: GREAT BRITAIN. William III and Mary (1688-1694). 5 guineas, 1692, London. Fb. 299. Acquired from Leu, Zurich 1999. Extremely fine.
Estimate: 6,000,- euros. Hammer price: 60,000,- euros.
Lot 6773: SWITZERLAND – BERN. 4 ducats 1796. Ex Hess-Divo 267 (1996), 1009. Fb. 177. Very rare. About extremely fine.
Estimate: 5,000,- euros. Hammer price: 17,000,- euros.
Lot 6812: BOHEMIA – MORAVIA, John of Luxembourg (1310-1346). Gold gulden, n. y., Prague. Fb. 1. Ex auction sale UBS 66 (2006), 1385. Very rare. Good very fine.
Estimate: 2,500,- euros. Hammer price: 12,000,- euros.
Lot 7397: IMPERIAL COINAGE. Prussia. William I (1861-1888). 10 mark 1878 B. J. 245. Extremely fine to uncirculated.
Estimate: 50,000,- euros. Hammer price: 60,000,- euros.
Lot 8103: SYRACUSE. Dekadrachm, after 405 B. C., signed by Euainetos. Gallatin R.IV/C.X. Extremely fine.
Estimate: 35,000,- euros. Hammer price: 65,000,- euros.
Lot 8252: CILICIA – TARSUS. Stater, 425/400 B. C. SNG France 2, 209. Very rare. Very fine.
Estimate: 1,500,- euros. Hammer price: 17,000,- euros.
Lot 8522: HADRIAN (117-138). As, 134-138. Rev. Aegyptus. RIC 839. Ex Leu 48 (1989), 346. Extremely fine.
Estimate: 4,000,- euros. Hammer price: 26,000,- euros.
Lot 9076: POSTUMUS (260-268). Off-metal strike of the aureus coining dies, 268, Colonia. RIC 342. Very rare. Extremely fine.
Estimate: 6,000,- euros. Hammer price: 14,000,- euros.
Lot 9099: LICINIUS II (317-324). Aureus, 321/322, Nicomedia. RIC 42. Very rare. Extremely fine.
Estimate: 60,000,- euros. Hammer price: 77,500,- euros.