In the Künker Fall Auctions week, spectacular results were achieved: 300,000 euros for an aureus of Vespasian featuring defeated Judaea, 42,000 euros for a Polish reichstaler or 48,000 euros for 4 ducats of the Great Elector. And these are only a few examples
5,700 lots with a total estimate of 8.2 million euros were auctioned off at Künker between September 26-30, 2016. The results amounted to impressive 11.8 million euros. Demand was constantly high, but some trends became apparent after all.
With few exceptions, in the department of ancient coins rarity played a decisive role only if combined with a perfect grade. A very rare aureus of Vespasian, which not only combines a perfect grade with historical significance (the reverse showing mourning Judaea with her hands bound) but with a provenance that dates back as early as 1951, illustrates what material a present-day collector gladly spends much money on. Having been estimated at 30,000 euros, the object reached a hammer price as high as 300,000 euros.
Coins from the modern period yielded similar results. The heavy gold and silver multiples are particularly coveted. To mention only one case in point: a quadruple 1677 ducat, issued by Frederick William, the Great Elector, on his seizure of the city of Stettin by the Brandenburgs. On an estimate of 15,000 euros, it finally realized 48,000 euros.
The two specialized collections not only achieved remarkable individual results but an impressive total result as well. Containing historical medals, the Luc Smolderen Collection rose to more than twice its appraisal, and the Dr. Heinrich Neumann Collection of Pomeranian coins and medals just missed doubling the pre-sale estimate.
Auction 280: Ancient coins
No matter which department a coin comes from, the grade is what currently constitutes the crucial factor. This holds true for almost every field. Representing the Celtic world, a gold stater of the Boii featuring a warrior in the ‘Knielauf’ on the reverse, can serve as an illustration. Having been described rather conservatively as “very fine”, the fully centered and superbly struck object did not stop at its estimate of 1,250 euros but achieved a hammer price of 8,500 euros.
A telling example from the Greek world is a Siculopunic decadrachm, minted around 264. The magnificently preserved piece realized 85,000 euros (estimate: 75,000 euros). Yet this was also the section where the attentive observer noticed the exception from the rule: Although slightly corroded and graded “only” very fine, a decadrachm of Alexander the Great, minted in Babylon in his lifetime, achieved impressive 54,000 euros (estimate: 25,000 euros).
As regards the Romans, the hype surrounding the prefect grade became even more apparent. 17,000 euros for a perfect denarius in the name of Imperator Brutus (estimate: 1,500 euros) and 16,000 euros for a legionary denarius of Marc Antony (estimate: 750 euros)! Could this have been caused by the fact that this denarius was devoted to Legio XX, which – after having been refounded under Octavian – was involved in the Battle of Teutoburg Forest?
We already mentioned the 300,000 euros for an extremely rare aureus of Vespasian commemorating the defeat of Judaea (estimate: 30,000 euros). Almost as impressive were the 14,000 euros for an attractive sestertius with the multi-figure depiction of the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus (estimate: 2,500 euros) or the 26,000 euros that were paid for an extremely fine denarius of Domitia (estimate: 4,000 euros), whose provenance harks back to 1948.
It is almost reassuring to see that an extremely rare Alexandrian drachm of Severus Alexander, graded “just” very fine, still achieved 3,700 euros (estimate: 600 euros). There are still some collecting fields left for which rarity is more important than grade.
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Highlights of Auction 280
Lot 14: BOII (Celts). Gold stater, 2nd/1st cent. BC. Very rare. Very fine. Estimate: 1,250,- euros. Hammer price: 8,500,- euros
Lot 135: SICULOPUNIANS (Sicily). 5 shekels (decadrachm), around 264. Very rare. Extremely fine. Estimate: 75,000,- euros. Hammer price: 85,000.- euros
Lot 163: ALEXANDER III, 336-323 (Macedonia). Decadrachm, 325/3 Babylon. Extremely rare. Very fine. Estimate: 25,000,- euros. Hammer price: 54,000,- euros
Lot 422: ROMAN REPUBLIC. M. Junius Brutus. Denarius, 42 mint in Asia Minor or Northern Greece, moneyer L. Plaetorius Cestianus. Very rare. Extremely fine. Estimate: 1,500,- euros. Hammer price: 17,000,- euros
Lot 434: SEXTUS POMPEY, + 35 BC. Aureus, 37/6, Sicilian mint. Very rare. Extremely fine. Estimate: 150,000,- euros. Hammer price: 155,000,- euros
Lot 442: ROMAN REPUBLIC. Marc Anthony, + 30 BC. Denarius, 32/31 Patras(?). Extremely fine. Estimate: 750,- euros. Hammer price: 16,000,- euros
Lot 447: MARC ANTHONY, + 30 BC, with Octavian. Aureus, 41, Ephesus. Very rare. Extremely fine. Estimate: 60,000,- euros. Hammer price: 85,000,- euros
Lot 541: VESPASIAN, 69-79. Aureus 71, Lugdunum. Rv. IVDAEA DEVICTA. Extremely rare. Extremely fine. Estimate: 30,000,- euros. Hammer price: 300,000,- euros
Lot 545: VESPASIAN, 69-79. Sestertius 75, Rome. Rv. Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus. Extremely rare. Good very fine. Estimate: 2,500,- euros. Hammer price: 14,000,- euros
Lot 573: DOMITIA. Denarius, 82/3 Rome. Rare. Extremely fine. Estimate: 4,000,- euros. Hammer price: 26,000,- euros
Auction 281: Medieval and modern coins and medals / Post-1871 German coins
The results achieved on the second auction day were not quite so spectacular but the consigners were pleased all the same. Take, for example, the Collection Vatican which – with the exception of the rare but not attractive specimens – obtained very respectable prices.
To single out three examples: a very rare and very fine carlino of Martin V, 1417-1431 bearing the name of Robert of Anjou brought 2,600 euros (estimate: 1,000 euros); an extremely fine and very rare 1588 piastra of Sixtus V, with the impressive depiction of Francis of Assisi receiving the stigmata, was sold for 10,500 euros (estimate: 5,000 euros) and a seemingly inconspicuous but very attractive 1676 testone from a sede vacante period changed hands for 1,000 euros (estimate: 300 euros).
The fact that Poland is always ready to spring a surprise was illustrated by an extremely rare and extremely fine reichstaler of Sigismund III which achieved 42,000 euros (estimate: 30,000 euros).
The prices obtained in the pre-1871 Germany section were also sound to impressive, as evidenced by a “just” very fine but extremely rare bracteate of Hartwig II of Hirnheim from Augsburg, for instance. Having been estimated at 1,500 euros, the item finally brought more than three times this sum, 4,600 euros.
Fractions can realize high prices, too, as an extremely rare pfennig from Brunswick proved. On an appraisal of 200 euros, the extremely fine striking was sold for 1,600 euros, hence eight times this sum. The multiple lots brought similar results. Graded “very fine and better”, 1,150 coins from Brunswick-Calenberg-Hanover had been assembled in one single lot. The calling price was 28,000 euros. The final bid was given at 70,000 euros.
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Highlights from Auction 281
Lot 1720: VATICAN. Sixtus V, 1585-1590. Piastra AN IIII / 1588. Very rare. Extremely fine. Estimate: 5,000,- euros. Hammer price: 10,500,- euros
Lot 1769: VATICAN. Sede Vacante 1676. Testone 1676 Rome. Rare. Very fine. Estimate: 300,- euros. Hammer price: 1,000,- euros
Lot 1945: MALTA. Order of St. John. Gregorio Carafa, 1680-1690. 4 tari 1680, Valletta. Very rare. Estimate: 1,250,- euros. Hammer price: 9,000,- euros
Lot 2079: SWEDEN. Frederick I, 1720-1751. Riksdaler 1748, Stockholm. Very rare, only 209 specimens struck. Almost FDC. Estimate: 25,000,- euros. Hammer price: 34,000,- euros
Lot 2284: HRE. Rudolph II, 1576-1612. 1/2 reichstalerklippe 1603, Prague. Probably unedited and single specimen in private possession. Estimate: 2,500,- euros. Hammer price: 18,000,- euros
Lot 2823: COLOGNE (pre-1871 Germany). Clemens August of Bavaria, 1723-1761. Mining taler 1759, Bonn or Coblence. Minted from Westphalian fine silver on the reopening of the mines and the resumption of mining at Ramsbeck. Very rare. Extremely fine. Estimate: 15,000,- euros. Hammer price: 18,500,- euros
Auction 282: European Medals – The Luc Smolderen Collection
A collection assembled with so much devotion and expertise as the Luc Smolderen Collection can only rarely be encountered. The result vouched for this.
Because of its rarity, the perfect grade and the very detailed, skillful depiction, a silver medal from S’Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands had been estimated at 6,000 euros already. It rose even further, to 17,000 euros.
Other hammer prices were more surprising, as the 5,500 euros for a silver medal which features an observatory on the one side and its founder on the other side, the Archbishop of Armagh / Northern Ireland. After all, this sum was almost 14 times the estimate of 400 euros.
Exactly 14 times the estimate was the price that had to be paid for an oval cast bronze medal on Innocent XII with an extraordinary portrait (estimate: 200 euros).
22,000 euros were obtained by a thick piece of three guldiner weight, issued by Maximilian I on the occasion of his wedding to Mary of Burgundy (estimate: 3,000 euros). And a very rare, contemporary example of a cast bronze medal by C. Weiditz on the factor Stefan Keltenhofer was sold for 7,250 euros (estimate: 1,000 euros).
Let us conclude this Luc Smolderen Collection review with a record price that was to be expected: The impressive silver medal by Dadler with the depiction of the Hamburg Harbor achieved 40,000 euros (estimate: 20,000 euros).
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Highlights of Auction 282
Lot 4046: S’HERTOGENBOSCH (Netherlands). Silver medal 1630 by A. van der Wilge. Very rare. Extremely fine. Estimate: 6,000,- euros. Hammer price: 17,000,- euros
Lot 4374: GREAT BRITAIN. Silver medal 1789 by W. Mossop on the commencement of construction of the Armagh Observatory and its founder Archbishop Robinson. Very rare. Extremely fine. Estimate: 400,- euros. Hammer price: 5,500,- euros
Lot 4628: HRE. Maximilian I, 1490-1519. Silver medal no date (after 1511) of triple schaulguldiner weight on his first wedding to Mary of Burgundy. Extremely rare. Very fine to extremely fine. Estimate: 3,000,- euros. Hammer price: 22,000,- euros
Lot 4634: HRE. Maximilian II, 1564-1576. Silver medal 1566, probably from the workshop of Nickel Milicz, Joachimstal. Very rare. Original striking. Extremely fine. Estimate: 3,500,- euros. Hammer price: 11,000,- euros
Lot 4765. Donauwörth. Cast bronze medal 1532 by C. Weiditz on Stefan Keltenhofer. Very rare. Contemporary specimen. Almost extremely fine. Estimate: 1,000,- euros. Hammer price: 7,250,- euros
Lot 4769: HAMBURG (pre-1871 Germany). Silver medal 1636, by S. Dadler. Extremely fine. Estimate: 20,000,- euros. Hammer price: 40,000,- euros
Auction 283: Pomeranian Coins and Medals / Gold Coins / Russian Coins and Medals
195 coins and medals from Pomerania kicked off Auction 283. Two 1498/9 gold gulden no date realized 19,000 euros each (estimate: 10,000 euros).
A unique triple reichstaler from 1613 was sold for 24,500 euros (estimate: 20,000 euros) whereas a triple reichstaler dating from 1620, probably the only specimen in private possession, brought 35,000 euros (estimate: 20,000 euros).
A quadruple ducat from 1677 on the seizure of the city of Stettin turned out to be the most expensive item of the collection. Graded extremely fine and of utmost rarity, the striking rose from 15,000 euros to 48,000 euros.
Part two of Auction 283 made clear that gold coins are currently at a premium. Produced by the Holy Roman emperors as gifts in the context of diplomacy, the heavy gold strikings achieved particularly noteworthy results. Firstly, a 5 ducat piece of Emperor Matthias, minted in Prague in 1613. The contemporary mounting reveals that this coin was not intended to serve as payment. Although, generally speaking, such testimonies of practical use are impairing the value, the very rare specimen however realized 24,000 euros (estimate: 6,000 euros). A 1628 5 ducat piece achieved 18,000 euros (estimate: 5,000 euros), a 1645 10 ducat piece 46,000 euros (estimate: 25,000 euros).
High prices also occurred in other areas as well. Let us single out just four cases in point: a perfect 1/3 heaume d’or of Gent, minted between 1346 and 1384, obtained 48,000 euros (estimate: 15,000 euros); a dinar with an Arabic legend, issued during the time of Charlemagne in a Carolingian mint, changed hands for 13,000 euros (estimate: 2,500 euros); a perfect quadrupla of Pope Innocent XI from 1687 was sold for 24,000 euros (estimate: 10,000 euros) and the result of a gold medal of 30 ducats by Dadler on the death of Gustavus Adolphus in the Battle of Lützen amounted to 46,000 euros (estimate: 25,000 euros).
Everybody collecting Russian coins these days can be pleased about attractive prices. And so many collectors seized the chance. Here, the extremely well graded specimens are highly sought-after, too. Minted in Warsaw for Poland, a Proof pattern for 10 kopecks / 20 groszy from 1842, for example, realized 20,000 euros (estimate: 5,000 euros), whereas a 1859 roubel – admittedly rare but remarkable mainly because of its Proof grade – achieved as much as 22,000 euros (estimate: 5,000 euros).
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Highlights of Auction 283
Lot 5002: POMERANIA. Duke Bogislaw X, 1474-1523. Gold gulden no date (1498/9), Stettin. The first gold coin of Pomerania. Extremely rare. Very fine. Estimate: 10,000,- euros. Hammer price: 19,000,- euros
Lot 5029: POMERANIA-STETTIN. Francis, (1602)-1618-1620. Triple reichstaler 1620, Stettin, on his death. Probably only specimen in private possession. Almost extremely fine. Estimate: 20,000,- euros. Hammer price: 35,000,- euros
Lot 5136: POMERANIA UNDER BRANDENBURG-PRUSSIA. 4 ducats 1677, Berlin, on the seizure of Stettin by the Brandenburgs on December 27. Extremely rare. Extremely fine. Estimate: 15,000,- euros. Hammer price: 48,000,- euros
Lot 5211: BAVARIA. Maximilian II Emanuel, 1679-1726. Gold medal 1692 by P.H. Müller, on his entry in Brussels as Governor of the Netherlands. Very rare. Extremely fine. Estimate: 12,500,- euros. Hammer price: 28,000,- euros
Lot 5483: HRE. Ferdinand III, 1625-1637. 10 ducats 1645, Vienna. Very rare. Almost extremely fine. Estimate: 25,000,- euros. Hammer price: 46,000,- euros
Lot 5603: FRANCE / CAROLINGIANS. Charlemagne, 768-814. Dinar / Solidus mancusus 157 AH (= 773/774), minted ca. 780-793, unknown Carolingian mint. Very rare. Extremely fine. Estimate: 2,500 euros. Hammer price: 13,000 euros
Lot 5718: VATICAN. Innocent XI, 1676-1689. Quadrupla 1687. Extremely rare. Extremely fine to FDC. Estimate: 10,000,- euros. Hammer price: 24,000,- euros
Lot 6256: RUSSIA. For POLAND. Nicholas I, 1825-1855. Pattern for 10 kopecks / 20 groszy 1842, Warsaw. Very rare. Proof. Estimate: 5,000,- euros. Hammer price: 20,000,- euros
Lot 6281. RUSSIA. Alexander II 1855-1881. Roubel 1859, St. Petersburg. Very rare. Proof. Estimate: 5,000,- euros. Hammer price: 22,000,- euros
NGC-Certified Ancient Roman Gold Coins Currently Available on eBay