From May 6 to 12, 2023,the Bavarian auction house Hermann Historica opens its doors for two major auctions. Nearly 370 lots will be auctioned until Tuesday, May 9 in the "Antique Arms and Armour from all over the world" event. Immediately after that, it will be the turn of the "Fine Antique and Modern Firearms" sale, which offers firearms enthusiasts the most excitement, since unique pieces of great interest will be auctioned off. But let's start from the beginning.
Among the most spectacular items in the "Antique Arms and Armour from all over the world" auction is lot 1228, a boar spear combined with two wheellock mechanisms, made in Nuremberg around 1570 and also featured on the catalog cover.
Both barrels flanking the leaf blade are in 10mm caliber and are stamped at the root with the Nuremberg proof mark "N" above a half eagle. The lateral lock plates with interior and enclosed wheels have an "AB" proof mark with a lute, confirming geographical and historical attribution. To fire the two guns, two triggers with spring-loaded guards located about one-third of the length of the wooden shaft with rectangular cross section and iron side straps, had to be pulled. Overall length is 193 centimeters.
Although these weapons are generally known as shooting boar spears, they were probably not designed for use in hunting. Moreover, the shape of the blade resembles that of the short halberds often carried by sergeants in 16th-century illustrations. In all likelihood this is a de-luxe edition to be given as a prize to a deserving soldier, and which also served as a badge of rank. It is, however, an extremely rare find. Only a very few comparable examples can be found today, in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Royal Armouries Collections in Leeds, and the Livrustkammaren in Stockholm. The starting price for this rarity is 30,000 euros.
In lot 1153 we find a beautiful example of Milanese-style craftsmanship. This is a parade burgonet in the style of Filippo Negroli made in the 19th century, or perhaps earlier, forged in one piece. Although it is in fact an imitation, it is an object made with great skill. The Milanese Filippo Negroli (ca. 1510-79), whose magnificent parade armor components “all'antica” are now found almost exclusively in museum collections, is considered one of the finest armorers of the Renaissance and this helmet evidently pays homage to him. The edges of the helmet are finely turned and roped, with raised and gild acanthus leaf ornaments on the comb, extending down into a grotesque mascaron in half relief on the front. The sides of the skull are decorated with raised leafy vines. A continuous interlaced band around the edge with silver dot inlays against a gilt background. Inside we find traces of the original leathering and a quilted green velvet hood. Overall height is 29 centimeters for a weight of 2,138 grams. The helmet is accompanied by an extraordinary velvet-covered wood stand, the base mounted in ormolu, three fully sculptured feet in the shape of recumbent sphinxes. On the edges we find old lamp sockets, added later, and a gild cartouche with the engraved inscription "Negroli 1539." The starting price for this very special piece is 27,500 euros.
We conclude our excursus on ancient weapons with a truly enigmatic piece. It is in fact one of the medieval swords marked on the blade with the word +ULFBERTH+ whose meaning is still largely shrouded in mystery. About 170 examples are known to have been made between the 9th and 13th centuries, but it is not known exactly by whom or where, although the most popular hypothesis is that they are of Franco-Germanic origin. The specimen for sale at Hermann Historica dates from the year 900 A.D. and comes from the Scandinavian area. It measures 98 centimeters in length and has a double-edged blade with deep long fullers on both sides. The triangular-shaped pommel and quillons slightly bent toward the blade are embellished with fine inverse swastikas, inlaid with silver thread, suggesting that this was a sword made for a person of high rank. On one side of the blade the word +ULFBERTH+, which is now barely legible, is inlaid in iron. The starting price for this historic piece is 18,000 euros.
The extremely rare Mauser C96 with interchangeable barrels to be auctioned at Hermann Historica in May Auction 2023
Let's now talk about firearms as part of the "Fine Antique and Modern Firearms" auction that will take off on May 10, 2023. Browsing through the online catalog, we saw dozens of different models of Winchester lever-action rifles, Heckler & Koch pistols, including some VP70s and numerous P7s and P9s, and other rarities such as Korriphila, Korth, and Walther that we invite you to go and discover.
But let us take here a closer look with a truly extraordinary piece: at lot 2365 we find a prototype of the Mauser C96 Bolo pistol with conversion barrel. Recall that the term Bolo, a contraction of Bolshevik, denotes the Mauser C96 pistols produced in the 1920s for the Bolshevik government of revolutionary Russia. Generally, C96 semiautomatic pistols were chambered for the 7.63x25mm Mauser caliber, which was in fact interchangeable with the 7.62x25 Tokarev widely circulated in Russia. This very special version, chambered precisely in 7.63 Mauser with 1920s proof marks, bears serial number 2 and comes with two barrels of different lengths, 100 and 150 millimeters respectively. Each barrel is in turn marked with the number 1 and 2 and is also accompanied by a bolt with its main spring. This is the only known example of a Mauser C96 pistol with interchangeable barrels, and it is the same one mentioned in the volume System Mauser: A Pictorial History of The Model 1896 Self-Loading Pistol by Breathed/Scroeder. The starting price for this collectors' "Holy Grail" is 18,000 euros.
Another rarity from Austria is the Schulhof repeating pistol, Model 1884-II (lot 2475) of which only about 50 examples appear to have been manufactured. It uses a ring-shaped loading lever that operates the firing mechanism and cocks the firing pin. It is not in fact a semi-automatic pistol, but a manual repeating pistol. The gun is in 10.6 millimeter caliber and has a serial number 13, making it the oldest specimen, since until now the lowest known serial number was 15. The barrel is octagonal, 155 millimeters long, with dovetailed notch and front sight. The gun is fed from an internal magazine with a capacity of six 10.6 Schulhof caliber cartridges (10.6x24.6 R). All metal parts still show the original nickel-plated finish, with stains and signs of wear. At least 10,000 euros must be invested to win the coveted piece.
At least 32,000 euros must be invested to get this highly desired lot: a side-by-side shotgun by Jean Lépage (Paris 1820)
We conclude our very partial roundup with another gun that came out of the hands of one of the most famous gunsmiths in history. In fact, at lot 2067 we find a superb side-bu-side shotgun in 15 mm caliber built in Paris by Jean Lépage around 1820. The shotgun is an example of the luxury and refinement achieved by the Parisian workshop. The barrels are round-profile with barrel roots decorated with finely engraved ornaments inlaid in gold with two gold-lined fleur-de-lys marks. Frizzens on rollers are original, rain-proof and gold-lined pans, signed "Le Page à Paris." Carved half stock of beautifully grained walnut wood with finely chequered grip, a three-dimensional deer head at the bottom. Rich silver wire inlays. This extraordinary shotgun is accompanied by a set of original steel keys engraved and inlaid in gold with floral and animal depictions. Due to the importance of the signature and the excellent state of preservation, the starting price of this museum-worthy collector's piece is 32,000 euros.
Of course, there are many more things to discover in the two brandnew online catalogs from Hermann Historcia. Therefore, all that remains is to invite you to visit the Hermann Historica website to admire the details of each and every lot offered for sale by the Bavarian house. If you click on the "Online catalogue" link you will find the section devoted to "Antique Arms and Armour from all over the world" while this is the catalog of "Fine Antique and Modern Firearms".
Have a good reading ans enjoy the Auctions. We will keep you informed about the results of te Auctions.