Künker – Russian Rarities at Maximum Prices
17th – 21st June 2013
Fritz Rudolf Künker, Osnabrück
Auction sales 232-235
170,000 – 160,000 – 100,000 – that were the highest hammer prices of Künker’s summer auction sale. And all three lots came from Russia. It’s not that the other section had no big rarities to offer as well! The total 6,183 lots had been estimated at 5.8 million euros, the hammer prices added up to 9.6 million euros.
Two medals and one decoration being the most expensive objects of Künker’s summer auction sale with catalogues 232 to 235 – that truly was out of the ordinary. On the other hand, it was very rare pieces from a field that is actively traded for a decade or so: Russia once again proves that its special collectors are willing to pay almost every price given a piece is magnificently preserved and rare.
The large gold medal with a diameter of 81.5 mm and a weight of 402 g that was issued on the occasion of the death of Alexander III commemorates a man that had earned himself a reputation thanks to personal probity and political inertia. The rare piece in about brilliant uncirculated was knocked down after a heavy bidding fight for 170,000 € (estimate: 50,000 €).
The predecessor of Alexander III, Alexander II, was being assassinated by terrorists in 1881, in the fifth attempt on his life, to be precise. And yet, Alexander II had been such a promising figure: his liberation of the serfs and the restriction of censorship had given the Russian progressive movement a new raise of life. The medals which commemorates his death rose on its estimate of 60,000 € to 100,000 €.
Even the experts were surprised by the hammer price for a gem of the Imperial and Royal Order of the White Eagle. The order got its name (a curious one, since when did Russia have kings?) from being founded by August the Strong in Poland originally and being integrated by Tsar Nicholas I in the Russian system of decorations as late as 1831. What makes this piece distinct is the fact that its date of production can be dated with certainty in the period between 1836 and 1841 thanks to master marks. A bidder, participating via telephone, was willing to pay 160,000 € for that (estimate: 40,000 €).
As a matter of fact, that was by no means all Künker’s summer sale had to offer. An entire range of collections were liquidated at once – and the price increases achieved in the process were more than remarkable.
Let’s begin with the Wolfgang Fried Collection, Medieval Coin Art. The almost 300 pieces obtained roughly one a half times their estimate. If a coin stood out due to its beauty the rise was even higher. A probably unedited bracteate of Frederick I from the imperial mint Mühlhausen may be taken as a case in point in this regard. The extremely fine specimen with the nice patina shows the king sitting on horseback in front of a castle. An admirer of medieval coins was so fascinated by this piece’s wealth in detail that he offered 11,000 € (estimate: 1,500 €). Not quite that high was the result achieved by a bracteate of Conrad the Great of Wettin, Margrave of Meissen. It shows the mint master in person; his suit of armor, a long mail coat, can be clearly seen on the coin (estimate: 1,500 / hammer price: 5,000 €).
The second collection that was auctioned off on day one of the sale was that of John W. Adams, peace medals from the 17th and 18th centuries. It comprised 79 pieces only, yet they were something special. With a hammer price of 180,000 € they obtained three times their estimate – with medals, that is something out of the ordinary and groundbreaking. Apparently, many collectors have discovered the field of medals recently.
The great rarities of historical significance in particular realized many times their (rather conservative) estimates, like, for example, a gold medal of English king Charles II on the Treaty of Breda exhibiting the earliest official depiction of Britannia ever (estimate: 6,000 / hammer price: 24,000 €). Another example proving the circle of medal fans expanding is the silver medal commemorating the same occasion, which made it onto the cover of catalog 232. The extremely fine item had been estimated at 1,500 €, only to change hands for 9,000 € in the end.
And there was a third collection that was sold the same day: Polonica Reconciliata – Rarities from Poland, Pomerania and Silesia. There, already the estimates had been considerable. The estimates of the 74 specimens had added up to more than half a million. And yet this figure was surpassed, the hammer price being more than 25% above the estimate. There weren’t so many surprises to be witnessed, although the prices were noteworthy. A very rare and extremely fine double reichsthaler from the Silesian duchy of Liegnitz-Brieg from 1622, for example, was auctioned off for 34,000 € (estimate: 20,000 €).
The largest collection of the summer sale featured 914 lots Vatican coins and medals, and this field may well be considered a personal tip for the time being since, despite some surprises – again with medals – many items remained inexpensive. He who bid in the lower three-figure regions had a decent chance to be lucky once or twice.
Of course, that didn’t apply to the great rarities. The most expensive coin of the collection became a ducato of Clement VII, minted in 1527, to pay off the troops of Charles V that had put an end to the bloom of the Holy City in the Sack of Rome. This historically highly important piece rose on its estimate of 10,000 € to 26,000 €.
Whereas this result was being expected, the high results of Papal gold medals came as a real surprise. And these weren’t isolated cases: 1329 – Clement VIII, gold medal 1592 on his election (VF; estimate: 3,000 / hammer price: 11,000 €); 1770 – Clement XI, gold medal 1719 on the Asia mission (EF-FDC; estimate: 4,000 / hammer price: 21,000 €); 1910 – Clement XIV, gold medal on his support the fine arts (EF; estimate: 4,000 / hammer price: 19,000 €).
Catalog 235 of the summer sale comprised a large collection of orders and honors. The estimates of the 1,121 lots had been almost 800,000 €, the hammer prices added up to 1.25 million which was mostly due to the big rarities. The hammer price for the ample legacy of orders and records of Max Zunehmer, ‘Pour le mérite’-laureate, read 38,000 € (estimate: 20,000 €). The gem of the Order of the Garter changed hands for 36,000 € (estimate: 10.000 €), just like the Order of the Golden Fleece from the possession of Alfons, Prince of Bavaria (estimate: 10,000 €).
You can view all results online under
The catalog of the autumn auction can be ordered at Künker, Gutenbergstrasse 23, D-49 076 Osnabrück; phone 0541 / 96 20 20; fax: 0541 / 96 20 222; or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
215 Fried Collection – Medieval Coin Art: Mühlhausen (Thuringia). Frederick I, 1152-1190. Bracteate. Probably unedited. Extremely fine. Estimate: 1,500 €. Hammer price: 11,000 €.
304 Adams Collection – peace medals: Great Britain. Charles II, 1660-1685. Gold medal n. y. (1667), unsigned by J. Roettiers on the Treaty of Breda. Eimer 251. Of great rarity. Very fine to extremely fine. Estimate: 6,000 €. Hammer price: 24,000 €.
589 Old Germany. Braunschweig. August the Elder, 1633-1636, with his brothers Frederick of Celle and George of Calenberg. Reichstaler 1636, Zellerfeld. Dav. 6484. Extremey rare. Extremely fine. Estimate: 4,000 €. Hammer price: 22,000 €.
1061 Polonica Reconciliata: Silesia. Liegnitz-Brieg. George Rudolf, 1621-1653. Double reichtsthaler 1622, Liegnitz. Dav. A7725. Of great rarity. Extremely fine. Estimate: 20,000 €. Hammer price: 34,000 €.
1178 Papal coins and medals: Clemen VII, 1523-1534. Ducato n. y. (1527), Rome. Muntoni 21. Of greatest rarity and high historical significance. Very fine. Estimate: 10,000 €. Hammer price: 26,000 €.
1770 Papal coins and medals: Clemen XI, 1700-1721. Gold medal 1719 by E. Hamerani on the Asia mission. Bartolotti 719. Of great rarity. Extremely fine bis Stempelglanz. Estimate: 4,000 €. Hammer price: 21,000 €.
3907 Old Germany. Nuremberg. Gold pattern of 9 ducats from the dies of the reichsthaler 1721. Kellner – (on 269). Of great rarity. Extremely fine. Estimate: 8,000 €. Hammer price: 60,000 €.
6319 Russia. Alexander II, 1855-1881. Gold medallion 1881 by V. Alexeev and A. Griliches on his death. Diakov 881.1. Of greatest rarity. About brilliant uncirculated. Estimate: 60,000 €. Hammer price: 100,000 €.
6370 Russia. Alexander III, 1881-1894. Gold medallion 1894 by P. Stadnitsky on his death. Diakov 1093.1. Of greatest rarity. About brilliant uncirculated. Estimate: 50,000 €. Hammer price: 17,000 €.
8674 Great Britain. Order of the Garter. Gem of the sash. Estimate: 10,000 €. Hammer price: 36,000 €.
8803 Russia. Imperial and Royal Order of the White Eagle. Estimate: 40,000 €. Hammer price: 160,000 €.
Further results that might be of interest to you:
2329 Charles I, 1625-1649. Crown n. y. (1645), London. Minted under parliament issue. Dav. 3764. Extremely fine. Estimate: 2,000 €. Hammer price: 4,600 €.
2342 George III, 1760-1820. 5 shillings & 6 pence token (bank token) 1811. Test strike in copper. Later pattern. Brilliant uncirculated. Estimate: 500 €. Hammer price: 2,000 €.
2355 Victoria, 1837-1901. Crown 1847, London. Gothic type. Dav. 106var. Extremely fine. Estimate: 1,000 €. Hammer price: 6,500 €.
3106 George IV, 182ß-1830. 5 pounds 1826, London. Fb. 373. Mintage only 150 specimens. Estimate: 10,000 €. Hammer price: 22,000 €.
8680 The Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George. Estimate: 1,500 €. Hammer price: 3,600 €.
3487 California. 1 dollar octogonal 1854. Yeo. 2013. About extremely fine. Estimate: 400 €. Hammer price: 900 €.
9121 Medal of Honor, army version, posthumously awarded to Kenneth Newton Walker 1943. Estimate: 5,000 €. Hammer price: 16,000 €.