By Dr. Ursula Kampmann ....
Even though there were many remarkable results to be witnessed in the Gorny & Mosch rare coin auction sale conducted between 10 and 12 March 2014, one ought to be singled out: a set comprising four extremely rare gold coins from Czechoslovakia from 1938 that changed hands for 282,000 euros.
Every auction has its own surprises. With auction 221 of Gorny & Mosch it was lot 3498 with four gold coins, known as being rare, from the Republic of Czechoslovakia dating to 1938. The rather modest estimate had been 15,000 euros. The proud new owner, however, had to pay a bit more for these rarities. His invoice will amount to 282,000 euros*.
The reason for this high price was that the four pieces on offer are particularly scarce: only 186 specimens were being produced of the ducat, another 56 of the double ducat, 192 of the 5-ducat piece and 16 of the 10-ducat piece. It staggers the imagination to consider what such a set might have obtained if it had consisted of Russian or Chinese coins. Modern coins from Czechoslovakia rising to such a price range clearly indicate how intense the interest in numismatics has become in this country of the former Eastern bloc.
This is by far the highest result achieved in the three spring auctions of the Munich auction house although other items obtained truly remarkable prices as well.
Auction sale 219 – High-quality ancient coins
Classical beauty is en vogue again. That is the impression one gets when looking at the results of auction sale 219 with high-quality ancient coins. Decent prices are being paid for the great artistic works even when their grading isn’t FDC.
A case in point is an incuse didrachm from Tarentum with the rider on the dolphin both on obverse and reverse. This piece whose provenance reaches back to 1987 had carried a pre-sale price tag amounting to 3,500 euros. An art lover paid 13,000 euros for it in the end. The same sum was paid for an extremely fine didrachm from Croton with a slightly off-center obverse and a depiction of Hercules strangling the snakes on the reverse, which originally had been significantly underestimated with its 1,200 euros. A third didrachm obtained the very result. It comes from Camarina and shows the nymph on a swan on its obverse. The estimate of the attractive piece had been 2,500 euros.
Many collectors were anxious to see what the Archaic tetradrachm from Naxos might yield. Its reverse was very fine to extremely fine but its obverse exhibited traces of corrosion and hence could only be graded very fine. In the previous years, it had been rather difficult to sell such imperfect coins regardless of their good provenance – this coin goes back to the Ward Collection that was auctioned off in 1973. The modest estimate of 8,000 euros, on the other hand, took full effect. After having paid 47,000 euros, its new owner will be able to add this icon of Greek numismatics to his collection.
Comparatively modest appears the result of the tetradrachm of the city of Potideia located in Northern Greece. In all probability, this was the best preserved specimen featuring Poseidon Hippios on the reverse. However, the piece ‘only’ rose to 28,000 euros on a pre-sale estimate of 20,000 euros. The most expensive item of the sale of ancient coins – and its estimate had already anticipated that – became the octodrachm of the Edones tribe with the theft of Hermes on the obverse. It was sold for 88,000 euros.
Let’s have a look at the Romans, too. The trend for well-preserved Roman gold to obtain high prices continues unabatedly. Thus, an extremely fine aureus of Trajan with the façade of the Forum Traiani on the reverse brought 17,500 euros (10,000 euros), a good extremely fine aureus of Hadrian featuring the personification of Africa 47,000 euros (25,000 euros) and a perfect solidus of Aelia Verina 54,000 euros (25,000 euros).
Auction sale 220 – Ancient coins and multiple lots
To those who prefer the three-figure range to the five-figure prices when buying, auction sale 220 had plenty to offer. Many a piece was low in price.
That, however, didn’t hold true for the special collection of Postumus coins. There are many collectors in this field who recognize a rarity when they see one. Hence, a double sestertius from Trier with a galley on the reverse came with an estimate of 250 euros but obtained 1,650 euros in the end, a sestertius from Lyon with a special bust brought 1,400 euros after having been estimated at 300 euros, and an extremely rare sestertius with an adventus scene obtained 1,300 euros on an estimate of 200 euros.
Another result from the offer of literature that consisted of meaningfully assembled lots addressing individual topics deserves mention here as well. Lot 2123 comprising four volumes on the coinage of Northern Greece obtained a significantly higher price than the other lots (100 euros, 1,300 euros), even though – of perhaps because of – two of them being written in Bulgarian.
Auction sale 221 – Medieval and modern times
12 March was devoted to coins from the Middles Ages and modern times. A number of noteworthy results were achieved in this field, too. Examples are, from the section Germany, a reichsthaler 1606 from Eichstätt (VF-EF, 7,500 euros, 14,000 euros), a Hamburg portugalöser of 10 ducats from 1736 with a marvelous depiction of a ship (EF-FDC, 12,000 euros, 19,000 euros), the gold pattern of 5 ducats of the Nuremberg thaler 1698 on the Treaty of Ryswick (EF-FDC, 18,000 euros, 33,500 euros), the schmetterlingsthaler from Saxony of August the Strong (about FDC, 25,000 euros, 40,000 euros) and the mining thaler 1623 on the alleged Hungen yield of Solms-Braunfels (about FDC, 8,500 euros, 14,100 euros).
The small series of coins from Würzburg likewise was a good seller. The most expensive items were a 5-ducat piece from 1652 (EF-FDC, 25,000 euros, 37,600 euros) and a 5-ducat piece from 1702 (EF-FDC, 10,000 euros, 16,500 euros).
It came as no surprise that the splendid imitations of ancient coins created by the best Renaissance die cutters found many friends and bidders. A medal on Antinoos, made around 1550 and having been estimated at 5,000 euros, depicting a wonderful temple façade on the reverse changed hands for 10,500 euros, just like the medal on Queen Artemisia created by Alessandro Cesati, nicknamed il Grecchetto, did.
The most expensive item of this small series, and deservedly so, was the marvelous medal on Lycurgus by Valerio Belli, called Vicentino. The extremely fine specimen with its fine dark patina rose from 10,000 euros to 20,500 euros.
There was only one single order being offered in auction sale 221 but that one was highly coveted, a Pour le mérite with Oak Leaves conferred on Otto Ritter von Rauchenberger. The rare item with original accessories had been called out for 10,000 euros and found itself a new owner for 30,500 euros in the end.
Let us conclude this review with some results from the foreign countries: a speciestaler from Denmark about FDC from 1667 that had been called out for 7,500 euros but was sold for 13,000 euros. An extremely rare and extremely fine thaler of Vincenzo Gonzaga (1587-1612) from Mantua increased from 10,000 euros to 14,000 euros, while the even rarer and about FDC scudo of Napoleone Spinola from Ronco from 1669 with its estimate of 30,000 euros changed hands as late as 49,000 euros.
An extremely rare ducat from Riga from 1700 in extremely fine to FDC yielded 15,300 euros (10,000 euros) and a Russian 50 zlotych piece from 1829 for Poland obtained 17,600 euros (10,000 euros).
The results of the coins from Czechoslovakia have already been mentioned. There is only one thing to be added: a second set comprising of four gold coins on the reopening of the Kremnica Mines from 1934 came with an estimate of 15,000 euros but obtained 23,500 euros still in the end.
All results can be found on the internet at http://www.gmcoinart.de/online_katalog. If you are interested in the lots unsold 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.
Consignments for the upcoming October auction sale 2014 are accepted as of now until 25 July 2014.
* All results include 17.5 % buyer’s premium, exclusive of VAT, and are slightly rounded.
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