Hermann Historica May 10, 2023 auction results: the most interesting lots

The absolute record during the May 10, 2023 "Fine Antique and Modern Firearms" auction was achieved by a gun in extraordinary condition: this is lot 2540, a Colt Mod. 1900 Automatic Pistol in .38 ACP with serial number 2, made around 1899. This is the lowest serial number specimen of an extraordinarily effective gun, which within a few years would evolve into the 1911, giving rise to a veritable design dynasty that still thrives today. Among the most unique technical features of this veritable "Holy Grail" of collecting is the foldable rear sight, which when folded doubles as a hammer safety. The barrel measures 6 inches and the nickel-plated magazine has a capacity of seven rounds. This example is pictured in numerous books dedicated to Colt semi-automatic pistols such as Donald Bady's Colt Automatic Pistols or William Goddard's The Government Models. Given the uniqueness of this piece and its relevance to modern gun history, it should come as no surprise that the sale price reached 48,000 euros.

Interest in historic hunting guns seems to have waned somewhat, but exceptions remain: such as this side-by-side rifle made in Prague for Franz Joseph I of Austria by gunsmith Anton Lebeda. It sold for 39,000 euros.

Second on the list for the amount achieved is lot 2075, a percussion side-by-side rifle (technically it should be defined an Express) in 16 mm caliber made around 1850 by gunsmith Anton Lebeda of Prague for Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria (1830-1916). The double-barreled rifle features a pair of Damascus steel barrels with a richly gold-inlaid barrel bar on which are dovetailed the windage-adjustable rear sight and front sight. The breechblock bears the cut and gilt monogram "FJ." The trigger guard is made of horn with silver inlays. Single set triggers. The beautifully carved stock of walnut wood has inlaid silver plates and a cheek rest. The recoil pad and patchbox lid, which bears the engraving of a falconer, are made of silver. This rifle of high historical value is in exceptional condition and is accompanied by a photocopy of the original invoice for the sale of two rifles, suggesting that this is the only surviving piece of a pair. This truly extraordinary piece sold for 39,000 euros.

This Heckler & Koch PSP (Polizei Selbstlade Pistole) in 9mm Luger caliber with serial number 038 sold for 19,000 euros.

Interest in modern collectible pistols is always high, as evidenced by the sale price of a whopping 19,000 euros achieved by lot 2318, a Heckler & Koch PSP (Polizei Selbstlade Pistole) in 9mm Luger with serial number 038. This semi-automatic pistol has a 105-mm-long polished polygonal barrel, three dot tritium sights, and is fed from an 8-round single-stack magazine. The pistol bears German proof marks from 1977. The grips are black synthetic with no model indication. The gun came in an original cardboard box with spare magazine, test grouping and instruction booklet. This is a rare early series model ranging from serial number 001 to 239. The gun was then slightly modified and reissued to the market under the name P7. The specimen for sale at Hermann Historica was in immaculate condition. At the same auction, an identical example but with serial number 087 went under he auctioneer's hammer for 14,000 euros.

A very rare example of the 1975 Mauser HsP pistol, which remained at the prototype stage and was auctioned for 16,000 euros.

We remain on the subject of modern pistols with lot 2967, a real treat for collectors. It is in fact a very rare example of the Mauser HsP (Hahn-Selbstspanner-Pistole, external hammer semi-automatic pistol) made in 1975 to participate in the competition held by the German police in August 1976. Models offered by SIG, Walther and H&K were preferred to Mauser, consigning to oblivion this compact pistol chambered in 9mm Luger caliber and featuring a DA/SA action. The barrel was only 70 mm long and had three grooves. The magazine was single-stack, with a capacity of eight rounds. The Mauser HsP offered the user three different safety systems. The left side of the slide bears the marking "Mod. HsP 9 mm x 19", while on the right side we find "Mauser-Werke Oberndorf GmbH." The finish on this example, which bears serial number 0022, is 99% with some discoloration on the slide. The final sale price for this very rare specimen was 16,000 euros.

Only nine examples of the TARN pistol, manufactured in England in 1940 to a Polish design exist. Hermann Historica sold one of them for 12,500 euros.

Another extraordinarily rare pistol for sale at Hermann Historica: the semi-unknown semi-automatic TARN, designed by Poland's Teofil Tarnowski and patented by Zygmunt Stanislaw de Lubicz-Bakanowski, captain of the in the 18th Lancers, Polish Army. It is a rather simple bolwback pistol, internal hammer and a 7-round single-stack magazine that was manufactured in 1940 by the Swift Rifle Company of London, which made a total of 9 examples in 9mm Luger and 7.65 Browning calibers with serial numbers between 100 and 108, and offered them to the British Army, which had just entered the war. However, the army rejected the TARN pistol and production was stopped after these few pieces were made. These 9 samples were sold in 1953 by the British Ministry of Supply to U.S. arms dealer Martin B. Retting. The sample for sale by Hermann Historica is chambered in 9mm Luger and has serial number 101. Included with the gun was a letter from Retting regarding the sale of these guns. This pistol is mentioned in the book Gun Collector Digest I, p. 174; Ezell's Handguns of the World, p. 510. The lucky collector succeeded in winning it for 12,500 euros.

It took 10,000 euros to bring home the Schulhof repeating pistol Model 1884-II (lot 2475) of which only about 50 examples appear to have been manufactured. The pistol uses a ring-shaped loading lever that operates the firing mechanism and cocks the firing pin – it is not a semi-automatic pistol, but a manual repeating pistol. The gun is in 10.6 mm caliber, is part of the first batch ever produced, and bears serial number 13, making it the oldest specimen, as so far the only three known pre-series examples have serial numbers 15, 16 and 18. Barrel is octagonal, 155 millimeters long, with dovetailed sights. The gun is fed from an internal magazine with a capacity of six rounds in 10.6 Schulhof caliber (10.6x24.6 R). All metal parts still show the original nickel-plated finish, with stains and signs of wear.

Schulhof Model 1884-II repeating pistol, made in perhaps fifty examples. Sold for 10,000 euros.

We conclude with a piece that brings to mind Old West suggestions. Lot 2837 achieved the handsome  hammer price of 17,500 euros, which the buyer had to shell out to take home a superb Army model Henry lever-action rifle, made in 1865 and chambered in .44-40 rimfire caliber. This rarity in excellent condition representing one of the earliest examples of an effective lever-action rifle has serial number 10772 and is immediately recognizable by its brass receiver and octagonal barrel. The long tube magazine reaching up to the muzzle had a capacity of 15 rounds. The upper side of the barrel is top marked "HENRY'S PATENT. OCT. 16. 1860 / Manufact'd by the New Haven Arms Co. New Haven, Ct." This is already a decidedly rare gun in itself, and in this case we are talking about a specimen in excellent condition.

A fine Army Model Henry lever-action rifle, built in 1865 and chambered in .44-40 rimfire, went under the hammer for 17,500 euros.

To find out more and to see which pieces are still available for post-auction sale please visit the Hermann Historica website.

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