HomeAuctionsHighest Grossing Auction Week in History of Künker

Highest Grossing Auction Week in History of Künker


Grossing 13.8 million euros based on an original estimate of 10.5 million, the Künker Fall Auction of 2015 entered the company’s history as its top-selling auction week ever. Responsible for this impressive result was an astonishingly broad range of numismatic items including many incredible special collections.

Six auctions conducted over the course of six days is remarkable in itself, but a turnover of 13.8 million euros (15.18 million USD) achieved over the course of only six days truly marks a new record. With the final result Auction House Künker happily records the highest-grossing auction week in the history of the company.

Not only the large number of special collections accounted for this impressive result, but also the broad range of world and ancient coins – as well as orders and decorations. With estimates starting at 20 euros, many collectors know that at Künker, they will find the right coin.

Auction 265: Orders and Decorations from Overseas

In its 12th phaleristic auction, Künker offered 900 lots, which obtained a total hammer price of 630,000 euros (€).

Thematically, the focus was placed on the German Empire. The most spectacular item of this session was the only Grand Cross Badge of the Military Order of St. Charles of Wuerttemberg in gold and enamel known to exist. Bidding started at a pre-sale estimate of €20,000, but the final hammer price constituted €28,000. In the department of civil and military decorations of the Kingdom of Prussia, the most expensive object was a Grand Cross set of the Order of the Red Eagle (estimate: €7,500 / hammer price: €13,000). An Iron Cross, which was awarded posthumously to Erhard Kleindienst, Reserve Lieutenant, on December 18, 1944, attained a surprising €13,000. Most certainly this amazing result constituted itself due to its perfect state of preservation and Künker having offered it in its original case with the original outer packaging (estimate: €3,000).

Of course, the session of orders and decorations from all around the world witnessed some remarkable results as well. Here, we would like to highlight the Breast Star of the Military Order of Christ from Portugal, which includes nearly 25ct diamonds (estimate: €20,000 / hammer price: €26,000), and the 2nd Class Cross of the Russian Order of St. Stanislaus (estimate: €7,500 / hammer price: €16,000).

  • Lot 189: ORDERS / PRE-1871 GERMANY. Duchy of Wuerttemberg: Military Order of St. Charles of Wuerttemberg, Grand Cross Badge (Commander). Issue from 1759, gold and enamel. Extremely rare. II-II. Estimate: €20,000. Hammer price: €28,000
  • Lot 595: ORDERS / PORTUGAL. Military Order of Christ. 3rd model (since 1918), Grand Officer Breast Star of the Order in brilliants, gold, enamel, and simili stones. Extremely rare. II. Estimate: €20,000. Hammer price: €26,000
  • Lot 620: ORDERS / RUSSIAN EMPIRE. Order of St. Stanislaus. 2nd Class Cross with Crown. Very rare. I-II. Estimate: €7,500. Hammer price: €16,000

Auction 266: Medieval and Modern Coins and Medals / Russian Coins and Medals

Auction 266 placed a special focus on Sweden, including its foreign mintages. During the Thirty Year War, Sweden laid siege on many German cities. Here, an undated Würzburg reichsthaler from the years 1633/34 depicting a portrait of the Swedish Lord Chancellor Axel Oxenstierna can surely be summarized under Sweden.

It also was the Swedish coinage where the real sensations were happening: The second known specimen of a 1540 salvatordaler of Gustav Vasa rose from its estimate of €50,000 to €75,000. Estimated at €25,000 each, two pieces obtained as much as €42,000: a daler of Sigismund, struck in Stockholm in 1594, and a 1633 daler of the underage queen Christina. Yielding €80,000, the rarest item of the Swedish section was a thick double 1649 reichsthaler of the aforementioned Christina. It formerly belonged to the Bonde Collection and obtained the very good result of €80,000 although it did not quite match the pre-sale estimate of €100,000.

Other spectacular individual items among the European coins changed hands as well: a magnificent 1619 silver medal on the Winter King Frederick, Elector Palatine (€12,500 / €21,000), and an extremely rare 1861 pattern, in the best grade possible, of the French 5-franc coins minted in Paris and Strasbourg between 1861 and 1870 (€10,000 / €19,000). The fact that China may always spring a surprise was proven by a very rare and extremely fine 1904 liang, from the Hupeh Province. It obtained an incredible hammer price of €11,000 (estimate: €3,000).

Russian coins and medals concluded Auction 266 and this department came up with many surprises. The biggest was a rare and extremely fine 5-ruble piece of Paul I. Unspectacular at first glance, this item, minted in St. Petersburg in 1800, nevertheless obtained €40,000 – 10 times its original estimate of €4,000. Another numismatic item reached “just” four times its appraisal: a 1748 ducat of Tsarina Elizabeth struck in the Moscow Red Mint. The bidding started at €10,000 but the ducat was sold for a hammer price of €44,000. Last but not least, the buyer of a Georgian 1230 dirhem of the Bagratids gladly paid six times the estimate. The coin commemorates the recapture of Tiflis that same year (estimate: €250 / hammer price: €1,600).

  • Lot 1664: GERMANY. Würzburg. Axel Oxenstierna, 1633-1634. Reichsthaler n. d. (1633/34), Würzburg. Very rare. Extremely fine to FDC. Estimate: €25,000. Hammer price: €44,000
  • Lot 1706: HRE. Frederick Elector Palatine, 1619-1621. Struck oval-shaped silver medal, 1619, by Chr. Maler on the coronation as King of Bohemia. Extremely rare. Extremely fine to FDC. Estimate: €12,500. Hammer price: €21,000
  • Lot 1788: FRANCE. Napoleon III, 1852-1870. 5 francs 1861, pattern with mint mark “E”. Extremely rare. FDC (Prooflike). Estimate: €10,000. Hammer price: €19,000
  • Lot 1947: SWEDEN. Gustav Vasa, 1521-1560. 1540 daler, Västeras. 2nd specimen known to be in private possession. Good very fine. Estimate: €50,000. Hammer price: €75,000
  • Lot 1981: SWEDEN. Christina, 1632-1654. Riksdaler 1633, Stockholm. Extremely rare. Very fine to extremely fine. Estimate: €25,000. Hammer price: €42,000
  • Lot 2129: CHINA. Hupeh Province. Liang (tael) year 30 (1904). Very rare. Extremely fine. Estimate: €3,000. Hammer price: €11,000
  • Lot 2285: RUSSIA. Paul I, 1796-1801. 5 roubel 1800, St. Petersburg. Rare. Extremely fine. Estimate: €4,000. Hammer price: €40,000
  • Lot 2510: RUSSIA / GEORGIA. Georgian Bagratids. Rusudan, 1223-1247. Dirhem 1230. Very fine. Estimate: €250. Hammer price: €1,600

Auction 267: Brandenburg in Franconia and the Franconian Imperial Circle – The Roland Grüber Collection

Certainly a lot of collectors wondered about how many potential buyers could be interested in the “Roland Grüber Collection”. The material from Brandenburg in Franconia and the Franconian Imperial Circle that was to cross the auction block consisted of more than 2,300 lots – wouldn’t this enormous offer of numismatic items make the prices plummet? As a matter of fact it did not (quite the opposite). This sale once again vouched for the fact that individual items, belonging to an expertly assembled collection, actually obtain better prices.

Let us single out one example: a small series of pfennigs issued under Margrave Frederick V between 1361 and 1397. Estimated at sums ranging between 20 and 30 euros, the seemingly unspectacular specimens attained considerably better results, reaching as high as 130, 140, 150, 180, and even 190 euros.

This trend continued and the total hammer price for the “Roland Gruber Collection” added up to 2 million euros, 50% more than the total pre-sale estimate. Naturally, a few spectacular individual items contributed to this magnificent result.

Two lots share the title of the most expensive coin of the Grüber Collection: a triple 1676 reichsthalerklippe on the bird shooting competition in Dresden on July 23 of the same year and a quintuple ducat of Frederick, Albrecht, and Christian of Brandenburg-Ansbach, minted in Nuremberg in 1629 (estimate: €20,000 / hammer price each: €38,000). An extremely rare and extremely fine 1683 reichsthaler of Christian Ernest of Brandenburg-Bayreuth obtained €29,000 (estimate: €10,000), while an equally rare, nearly extremely fine 1746 pistole of Frederick of Brandenburg-Bayreuth achieved €24,000 (estimate: €10,000). Lastly the auction sale’s cover piece, a golden achievement medal of 10 ducats of Christian Frederick Charles Alexander of Brandenburg-Ansbach, estimated at €10,000, was auctioned off for €15,000.

  • Lot 3626: SAXONY. John George II, 1656-1680. Triple reichsthalerklippe 1676, Dresden, on the bird shooting competition in Dresden on July 23, where the electoral prince (later to be Prince Elector John George III) fired the decisive shot, thus making his mother Magdalena Sibylla become queen of shooters. Ex Peus Auction 364 (2000), 1671. Very rare. Extremely fine to FDC. Estimate: €20,000. Hammer price: €38,000
  • Lot 3643: BRANDENBURG-BAYREUTH. Christian Ernest, 1655-1712. Reichsthaler 1683, Bayreuth. Ex Wilmersdörffer Collection, Helbing Nachf. Auction 48 (1925), 658. Extremely rare. Extremely fine. Estimate: €10,000. Hammer price: €29,000
  • Lot 3858: BRANDENBURG-BAYREUTH. Frederick, 1735-1763. 5 thaler (pistole) 1746, Bayreuth. Ex Brand Collection, Leu Auction 69 (1997), 4029. Extremely rare. Nearly extremely fine. Estimate: €10,000. Hammer price: €24,000
  • Lot 4209: BRANDENBURG-ANSBACH. Frederick, Albrecht and Christian, 1625-1634. 5 ducats 1629, Nuremberg. Unique. Extremely fine. Estimate: €20,000. Hammer price: €38,000
  • Lot 4328: BRANDENBURG-ANSBACH. George Frederick II, 1692-1703. Reichsthaler 1696/1694. Ex Wilmersdörffer Collection, Helbing Auction 48 (1928), 926. Extremely rare. Extremely fine. Estimate: €7,500. Hammer price: €19,000
  • Lot 5044: FRANCONIAN CIRCLE. Joint coinage of the four Franconian minting authorities, Bamberg, Würzburg, Brandenburg-Bayreuth, and Brandenburg-Ansbach. Reichthaler 1624, Fürth. Very rare. Extremely fine to FDC. Estimate: €5,000. Hammer price: €17,000

Auction 268: Coins and Medals of the Archbishopric of Salzburg – The Numitor Collection

The numismatic material offered in Auction 268 comprised exceptional gold and silver coins from Salzburg. The Numitor Collection, for example, included the second-known specimen of a gold gulden of Sigismund of Volkersdorf. Exhibiting the first depiction of Saint Rupert on Salzburg coinage we know of, this was an item of great numismatic interest. Estimated at €75,000, this specimen’s hammer price, however, was nothing less than €85,000, making this early coin one of the two most expensive items of the entire auction sale. The second coin which rose from its estimate of €75,000 to an impressive final bid of €85,000 was one of the last coins produced in Salzburg. Because of a Bavarian intervention, most specimens of this extremely rare 1790 löwenthaler of Hieronymus of Colloredo were melted down, leaving only a few in circulation.

Altogether, not every single lot of the Numitor Collection reached a price that matched its (generally high) estimate. A case in point is a 10-ducat specimen of the tower coinage of Wolf Dietrich of Raitenau. Estimated with the highest appraisal of all at €100,000, it was auctioned off for €80,000. Nevertheless, remarkable results were achieved anyway. Those were mainly coins, which were not only highly appealing to the eye but also of great historical and numismatic interest. To name just two examples: a unique 1561 four-ducat piece of John Jacob Khuen of Belasi (estimate: €50,000 / hammer price: €55,000), and a unique 1686 10-ducat piece of Max Gandolph of Küenburg on the ordination to cardinalhood (estimate: €75,000 / hammer price: €80,000).

  • Lot 5502: SALZBURG. Sigismund of Volkersdorf, 1452-1461. Gold gulden n. d., Salzburg. 2nd specimen known to exist. Extremely fine. Estimate: €75,000. Hammer price: €85,000
  • Lot 5549: SALZBURG. John Jacob Khuen of Belasi, 1560-1586. 4 ducats 1561. Unique. Nearly FDC. Estimate: €50,000. Hammer price: €55,000
  • Lot 5639: SALZBURG. Max Gandolph of Küenburg, 1668-1687. 10 ducats 1686, on the ordination to cardinalhood. Unique. Extremely fine. Estimate: €75,000. Hammer price: €80,000
  • Lot 5727: SALZBURG. Hieronymus of Colloredo, 1772-1803. 1790 löwenthaler. Ex Leu Auction 75 (1999), 1100. Extremely rare. Nearly FDC. Estimate: €75,000. Hammer price: €85,000

Auction 269: Gold Coins / German Coins after 1871

Auction 269 featured gold coins from all around the world. By the time the sale was concluded, it had once again become clear that among coin collectors, gold is currently in high regards.

We would like to highlight the section of British coins featuring 104 lots. Obtaining a total hammer price of more than 450,000 euros, they realized more than 2.5 times their pre-sale estimates. The 5-guinea pieces, which at the moment are quite popular, significantly contributed to this noteworthy result. Almost every time a 5-guinea piece crossed the auction block the hammer fell at a price in the five-digit region: a 1688 5-guinea piece (estimate: €12,500) and another one from 1706 (estimate: €20,000) brought €60,000 each.

Not five guineas but five pounds, dating from 1826 and of which only 150 specimens were struck, brought €55,000. More than once rarity was a decisive criterion as proven by a 1893 2-pound piece of Queen Victoria of which only 773 specimens were minted. Realizing €14,000, this coin by far exceeded its pre-sale estimate of €2,500.

As witnessed, rarity becomes more and more important, but only in combination with superb grades. Estimated at €12,500 each, two types of the 1910 100 perpera, minted in Vienna by Nicholas I of Montenegro almost doubled their prices. One achieved €20,000 and the other €22,000 (Fb. 1, only 300 specimens struck).

Looking at the most expensive coin of this auction session, we return to Sweden, or rather almost. The 1632 sextuple ducat from the city of Nuremberg, struck under Swedish occupation, left its estimate of €50,000 soon behind and was auctioned off for €80,000.

  • Lot 6021: BELGIUM. Leopold I, 1830-1865. 100 francs 1853, Brussels, on the wedding of the heir to the throne. Only 482 specimens struck. Extremely fine to FDC. Estimate: €4,000. Hammer price: €16,000
  • Lot 6192: GREAT BRITAIN. Anne, 1702-1714. 5 guineas 1706, London. Vogel Coll., ex Künker Auction 230 (2013), 6656. Very rare. Extremely fine. Estimate: €20,000. Hammer price: €60,000
  • Lot 6271: GREAT BRITAIN. Victoria, 1837-1901. 2 pounds 1893, London. Only 773 specimens struck. Proof. Estimate: €2,500. Hammer price: €14,000
  • Lot 6371: ITALY. Tuscany. Leopoldo di Lorena, 1824-1859. 80 fiorini 1828, Florence. Very rare. Nearly FDC. Estimate: €5,000. Hammer price: €16,000
  • Lot 6415: MONTENEGRO. Nicholas I, 1860-1918. 100 perpera 1910, Vienna. Only 300 specimens struck. Extremely fine / extremely fine to FDC (Prooflike). Estimate: €12,500. Hammer price: €22,000
  • Lot 6520: CONFEDERACY. 100 francs 1925, Bern. Graded ANACS MS63. Only 5,000 specimens struck. Extremely fine to FDC. Estimate: €7,500. Hammer price: €18,000
  • Lot 6604: CHINA. Republic. Gold dollar, year 10 (1921) on the proclamation of Hsu Shih Chang as president in October 1918. Graded NGC MS 62. Very rare. Extremely fine to FDC. Estimate: €25,000. Hammer price: €28,000
  • Lot 6765: AUSTRIA. Francis Joseph I, 1848-1916. 100 kronen 1908, Vienna, on his 60th reigning jubilee. Very rare. Proof. Estimate: €4,000. Hammer price: €22,000
  • Lot 6914: GERMANY. Nuremberg. 6 ducats 1632, minted under Swedish occupation by Gustavus II Adolphus. Oldenburg Coll., ex Bukowski Auction 113 (1898), 1396. Extremely rare. Very fine to extremely fine. Estimate: €50,000. Hammer price: €80,000
  • Lot 7375: FRG. Pattern for 2 DM 1950 D. Extremely rare. Nearly FDC. Estimate: €7,500. Hammer price: €17,000

Auction 270: Coins from the Ancient World

No less than 200,000 Euros was the final bid for an extremely fine tetradrachm from Catane. The coin exhibits one of the most coveted facing portraits ever to be found in monetary history when at the same time it also offers a noteworthy pedigree. Not only stretches it back to 1913 when the collector R. Jameson itemized this specimen in his catalog, but it goes even further. In times when the community of German collectors is engaged in an ongoing debate about modifications of the stipulations regarding the Protection of Cultural Heritage, such a solid provenance is literally worth a lot of money.

The same goes for a marvelous decadrachm, signed by Euainetos. Stemming from the Virzi Collection, which was auctioned off by Jakob Hirsch in 1912, bidding started at €50,000, only to reach a hammer price of €100,000.

Among the coins from the Greek department, any number of specimens really obtained spectacular prices. A coin that needs special mentioning is a wonderful Archaic stater from the island of Naxos which started at €5,000 and arrived at a final bid of €12,000. A tetradrachm from Herakleia, on the other hand, vouched for the fact that perfection has a major effect on an item’s price. Not a rare but a perfectly struck coin in the best grade possible and of the finest style, it obtained €3,600 based on an estimate of just €750.

The only coins able to compete with the Greek specimens were Roman aurei and Künker was able to offer a great many at this auction. All together the aurei stemmed from a period between the late Roman Republic, with an aureus of Marc Antony together with Octavian (estimate: €35,000 / hammer price: €36,000), and the era of the barracks emperors, of which we would like to single out an aureus of Geta (estimate: €12,500 / hammer price: €52,500). Any item in a grade above average achieved an exceptional price. Two aurei even ranged in the six-digit region: an aureus of Vitellius (estimate: €50,000 / hammer price: €105,000), and an aureus of Didius Julianus (estimate: €35,000 / hammer price: €150,000).

But not only gold attained record prices. When turning to silver in the finest grade, an AEGYPTO CAPTA-denarius of Augustus also achieved an amazing price. Originally estimated at an impressive 35,000 euros, it was auctioned off for an even more impressive sum of €55,000. A cistophorus of Nero is another great example: modestly estimated at €2,500, it reached a hammer price of €17,000.

Lastly, bronze coins deserve mentioning as well. To conclude this overview, we would like to single out two medallions: one of Lucius Verus (estimate: €25,000 / hammer price: €44,000), and the other of Constantine the Great for Urbs Roma (estimate: €6,000 / hammer price: 15,000).

Please find all results on our website under the category Results.

Künker, in collaboration with London Coin Galleries, will conduct the next auction on October 30, 2015, at the Millennium Hotel in London. The numismatic material offered for sale comprises an incredible assemblage of löser and mining coins from the Preussag Collection. The catalog may be ordered at Künker, Nobbenburger Strasse 4a, D-49076 Osnabrück; phone: + 49 541 96202 0; telefax: + 49 541 96202 22; or by writing an email to [email protected]. All coins on offer can be viewed online at www.kuenker.de/en.

  • Lot 8117: GREEKS. Sicily. Catane. Tetradrachm, c. 405/402, signed by Herakleidas. Ex Jameson Coll. 547. Very rare. Extremely fine. Estimate: €100,000. Hammer price: €200,000
  • Lot 8135: GREEKS. Sicily. Syracuse. Decadrachm, after 405, signed by Euainetos. Virzi Coll., ex Hirsch Auction 32 (1912), 322. Very rare. Extremely fine. Estimate: €50,000. Hammer price: €100,000
  • Lot 8317: GREEKS. Ionia. Herakleia. Tetradrachm, 2nd cent. BC. Extremely fine. Estimate: €750. Hammer price: €3,600
  • Lot 8549: ROMAN IMPERIAL TIMES. Augustus, 30 BC – AD 14. Denarius, 28 BC, Italian mint. Ex Tkalec Auction (2011), 134. Very rare. Extremely fine to FDC. Estimate: €35,000. Hammer price: €55,000
  • Lot 8642: ROMAN IMPERIAL TIMES. Vitellius. Aureus, Rome. Lanz 135 (2007), 569. Very rare. Tiny scratches, expertly restored. Extremely fine. Estimate: €50,000. Hammer price: €105,000
  • Lot 8828: ROMAN IMPERIAL TIMES. Lucius Verus. AE-medallion, 164/5, Rome. Ex Kastner Auction 4 (1973), 251. Extremely rare. Extremely fine. Estimate: €25,000. Hammer price: €44,000
  • Lot 8836: ROMAN IMPERIAL TIMES. Didius Julianus. Aureus. Ex Montagu Collection, Rollin & Feuardent Auction 1896, lot 461. Very rare. Extremely fine / nearly extremely fine. Estimate: €35,000. Hammer price: €150,000
  • Lot 9184: BYZANTIUM. Basilius I, 867-886. Solidus. Very rare. Nearly extremely fine. Estimate: €10,000. Hammer price: €16,000

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