"Fine Antique and Modern Firearms," "Antique Arms and Armor from all over the World," and the "Binker Collection" are the titles of the three events held at the Hermann Historica auction house in Munich, Germany, from October 24-26, 2022. As usual for firearm enthusiasts, collectible gun auctions are an important event for studying market trends and estimating the value of guns, swords, and armor. Continuing with a trend already fairly well established in the last editions, today the most sought-after and best-paid collector firearms seem to be 20th-century guns, with a shift in focus from the first to the last decades, but let's say no more...
The exceptional pieces in the Binker Collection
Let's start with the auction that included pistols from the Binker Collection: we anticipated that one of the highlights was lot 2249, which was the "Cartridge Counter" version of a 1908 American Eagle Parabellum DWM Mod. 1902 in 9mm Luger caliber. On the left side of the grip we can see the special feature for which this gun is particularly sought after by collectors, namely the long "cartridge counter" window, numbered from 1 to 7 that allowed the user to check the amount of rounds in the magazine. According to official texts, only 50 examples of this variant were made. The pistol bears serial number 22408 on all parts while the firing pin and safety have no serial number. The gun features a heavy barrel (fat barrel, in Luger collectors' parlance) 100 mm long. It has the American eagle on the chamber, and the front toggle link bears the DWM logo. All controls feature a straw-colored finish, while small parts have been blues. Also the walnut grips, which have a fine checkering, bear matching serial numbers. The nickel-plated magazine with wooden base is unnembered.
Starting at 35,000 euros, this gun sold for 40,000 euros. By contrast, the splendid 7.65-caliber Mod. 1902 Luger carbine manufactured by DWM Berlin, complete with gift box and punched with the initials GL (George Luger), did not exceed the (already rather high) starting price of 33,000 euros. Made in 1903, it bears on the chamber area the marking "J.L.M. / from H.C.R." followed by the date and was certainly used as a gift for some personality of the time. The pistol is housed in an original leather-covered wooden case that contains the pistol, walnut stock/holster, two magazines, brush and cleaning tools. Another gun from the Binker collection that crossed the psychological threshold of 30,000 euros was lot 2089, a prewar commercial, factory engraved, cased Mauser C96.
This 7.63-caliber Mauser chambered pistol was manufactured in 1913 and features a stunning scroll engraving with gold remnants that also extends to the walnut wood grips. The wooden case is covered in black lambskin and the lid is lined in silk with gilt Mauser marking. In addition to the gun, it contains two leather ammo clip pouches, a cleaning brush, and a magazine spring. This gun is described in the book Mauser C96 by Kersten, Moll and Schmid on pages 122-123. The gun is in like-new condition, so it is not surprising that this truly unusual piece sold for an impressive 36,000 euros.
Antique and modern collectible firearms: the revenge of the H&K P7 K3
We now come to the piece sold at the highest price. We have not been surprised for a long time to see relatively modern, if not even contemporary guns fetching better prices than older ones, and this is also true for the fully engraved Heckler & Koch P7 K3 made in a unique specimen in 1985 for what was then the CEO of the German company. The H&K P7 K3 had the feature of being able to shoot three different calibers: .380 ACP, .32 ACP (7.65 Browning) and .22 Long Rifle just by replacing the barrel, recoil spring and magazines, hence the name K3 (3 Kaliber). Among its other very interesting features should be mentioned the gas-delayed blowback system, internal buffer and automatic safety on the grip front. Although like so many Heckler & Koch guns the P7 was very interesting technically and functioned well, it did not meet with great public and critical acclaim. In the multi-caliber K3 variant it was manufactured only from 1984 to 1995. The "Full Size" version in 9 Para caliber was also submitted to the U.S. Army for adoption, but was not considered. The example sold by Hermann Historica features extensive floral engravings on the slide, while the walnut wood grips are covered in solid engraving in typical Central European style, and on the right side an eagle seizing a marmot. The gun comes in an original leather case inside which we find a spare magazine, instruction booklet and test target. The gun is practically new and in perfect condition, and to take it home the anonymous buyer had to shell out as much as 40,000 euros. Two lots with consecutive numbers, namely 1240 and 1241 both realized a sale price of as much as 34,000 euros, and again these are two Heckler & Koch P7 pistols.
But let's go in order: lot 1240 is a Heckler & Koch P7 A10 XM9 in 9mm caliber with serial number 27842 and proof marks from 1982. This gun is part of the batch of 34 guns that were sent to the U.S. Army to evaluate its adoption, and the suffix X stands for experimental. As is well known, the trials ended in 1985 with the adoption of the Beretta 92 pistol with the name M9. It is believed that most of the pistols tested were scrapped; thus, this makes Lot 1240 particularly valuable to collectors.
The most noticeable feature of this version is the single-stack magazine, originally with a 10-round capacity, which has been visibly lengthened by welding an additional section protruding from the grip. The gun comes in the classic H&K case accompanied by two magazines, the user's manual and the factory test target. Lot 1241, on the other hand, is a Heckler & Koch P7 A13 XM9, in 9mm caliber, where the number 13 alludes to the number of rounds in the double-stack magazine.
The pistol has the same serial number as the previous batch and also bears the 1982 proof marks. The original finish is parkerized, the grip grips are plastic, milled from solid blocks and painted black. The right side is marked "XM 9", the left side "HK P7 A13." The pistol comes in its original box, with two magazines and the factory target. Again, its extreme rarity is due to the fact that it was part of the lot submitted to the U.S. Army for adoption tests. As said before, the price reached the handsome sum of 34,000 euros.
Let's conclude by talking about really old firearms: at the October 26 auction, which was precisely devoted to real museum pieces, the record sale was achieved by lot 3244, a Franconian sword, circa 900 A.D. The double-edged blade features shallow fullers on both sides reachin almost to the tip. The core is forged of twisted Damascus strands, the lateral cutting edges attached separately. Quillons with an elongated oval profile. A bronze banner with inscription down the middle, the engraved letters bearing remnants of silver inlays. Sturdy, slightly tapered tang. Pommel is forged in two pieces, the lower section with another bronze inscription band.
The rest of the surface is covered with fine thread inlays in bronze. Length 98 cm. The inscription in capital letters is probably written in a highly abbreviated medieval Latin and therefore difficult to make out. The word "BENEDICT" can be seen on the quillons. In addition, there are straight-armed crosses and other unidentified symbols between some of the letters. However, the inscription is a clear indication that the sword must have belonged to a person of high rank. Provenance: the sword was found during excavation work in a private gravel pit near the Rhine River in the 1960s and subsequently remained on the finder's family's property. The sale price was 48,000 euros.
We conclude by inviting you to visit the Hermann Historica website where you can view online all the results of past auctions and bid online on lots still for sale. Happy viewing!