With 7.4 million euros turnover on a single auction day, seven lots achieving hammer prices in the six-figure range, hundreds of collectors and dealers from all over the world attending the auction in person: the Künker Berlin auction once again exceeded all expectations.
Those who visited the auction floor at Berlin Estrel Hotel on 6 February 2014 had to search for a seat that wasn’t already taken. After all, the high-quality range of offers presented by Künker in auction sale catalog 244 had attracted many interested potential buyers.
The 335 lots of Germany already sprang many a surprise, like, for example, an extremely rare Brandenburg thaler of John of Küstrin, minted in Krossen in 1545 that was estimated at 40,000 euros. It obtained a hammer price of 55,000 euros. A double thaler of the Archbishopric of Bremen from 1562 rose from its estimate of 8,000 euros to 40,000 euros, and for a 1/2 Hamburg portugalöser of 5 ducats, minted between 1668 and 1673, the lucky new owner had to pay exactly 70,000 euros plus buyer’s premium.
It was something of a surprise that the 1/2 reichsthalerklippe bearing the portrait of Albrecht of Wallenstein, Duke of Friedland, minted in Sagan in 1630, became the most expensive coin of the German section. The extremely rare, magnificently preserved piece shows the well-known half-length portrait of the Duke with the large collar in just the same way as the controversial politician is depicted in contemporary prints. The rather modest pre-sale estimate was 20,000 euros but the hammer fell as late as 130,000 euros!
Europe and the oversea countries
That was by no means the only surprise, although admittedly the section ‘Europe’ and ‘Overseas’ wasn’t as spectacular as Germany. Nevertheless, there were many disappointed faces amongst the bidders when a triple ducat of Leopold I, minted in Klausenburg in Transylvania in 1698 that had been estimated at 10,000 euros, changed hands for 32,000 euros in the end. Precious metal wasn’t the only thing that obtained maximum prices. ‘Just’ 500 euros were expected for a copper pattern of the Bulgarian 10 santim piece from 1887. It realized more than five times that sum: 2,800 euros, which as a percentage was the same increase as that of the pattern of a mint state Bulgarian 20 stotinki piece from Vienna from 1888 that rose from 150 euros to 850 euros.
It very much looks like a misprint, that price, that the extremely rare, but only very fine French 20 francs piece from the year 13 (1804/5), minted in Limoges, obtained: 12,000 euros on a pre-sale estimate of 2,000 euros. An about extremely fine 100 drachmae piece of George I from 1876, in contrast, was expected from the start to yield an impressive result. Only 76 specimens are known to exist. The one offered at Künker changed hands for 55,000 euros after the estimate had read 40,000 euros.
Everyone wondered what the Italian rarities would bring. And they didn’t disappoint. 30,000 euros had been the estimate for a tallero of Antonio Maria Tizzone (1598-1641), Count of Desana. The hammer price was 45,000 euros. 115,000 euros were obtained by the extremely rare 10 zecchini piece of Antonio Teodoro Trivulzio, that had been called out for 80,000 euros.
Stunned were some European coin dealers when they saw what happened to a rare 4 baht piece from Thailand. The extremely rare coin that had been produced on the occasion of the 60th birthday of King Mongkut, realized 44,000 euros instead of the expected 7,500 euros, its traces of mounting and its reworked edge notwithstanding! A possible explanation might be provided by the fact that King Mongkut is considered by many as one of their most important historical figures. Prior to his accession to the throne, he had lived 27 years as a monk. Bearing the name Rama IV, he opened up his country to western knowledge. Although he had to assign many rights to the English, he was more successful in leading his country into the modern era than many other Asian rulers in the 19th century. By the way, King Mongkut has become known in Europe thanks to the biography of the English teacher Anna Leonowens that turned into the musical ‘The King and I’. That, however, was regarded lese majesty in Thailand as late as the 1960s.
Once again, the Russian rarities – of which there were 129 available for sale this time – have beaten all records. As a matter of fact, Berlin has become an ideal gathering place between east and west. Numerous dealers from the eastern hemisphere attend the auction sale on a regular basis and are responsible for the incredible results of which there were more than enough.
At this point, we restrict ourselves to a list of Russian coins and medals that realized 100,000 euros and more: an extremely rare test strike of a rouble 1801 of Tsar Alexander I from St. Petersburg Mint (slightly cleaned, VF, estimate: 75,000 euros, hammer price: 100,000 euros); a 12 roubel piece in platinum of Nicholas I, of which only 53 specimens were produced in 1837 (PP, estimate: 40,000 euros, hammer price: 100,000 euros); an extremely rare gold medal of 60 ducats on the death of Tsarina Maria Feodorovna in 1828 (about mint state, estimate: 75,000 euros, hammer price: 180,000 euros); an extremely rare gold medal of 50 ducats 1829 on the Treaty of Adrianople (VF-EF, estimate: 75,000 euros, hammer price: 110,000 euros); a 37 1/2 roubel piece of Nicholas II, of which just 225 specimens were produced in St. Petersburg in 1902 (about mint state, estimate: 75,000 euros, hammer price: 130,000 euros).
You can find all results on the website of Künker’s at www.kuenker.de