Hermann Historica returns with powerful series of auctions May 7-16

Circa-1560-1600 Nuremberg, Germany suit of black and white cavalry armor, assembled from old components, estimated at €11,000-€22,000 ($11,760-$23,525) at Hermann Historica on May 16.

MUNICH, Germany – Hermann Historica greets spring with a slate of May sales spanning Tuesday, May 7 to Thursday, May 16 that cover a wide range of categories, from antiquities to military medals to collectible firearms to antique suits of armor. The catalogs are now open for review and bidding at LiveAuctioneers.

Prominent among the lots in the house’s Orders and Military Collectibles Until 1918 auction on Tuesday, May 7 is a large circa-1850 amphora-form vase by the Royal Porcelain Factory in Berlin, the initials of which translate to KPM. Centered on one side is a half-length portrait of King Wilhelm I of Württemberg, a then-independent region in what is now southern Germany. The coat of arms of the royal house of Württemberg appears on the other side of the splendid vase, which is estimated at €8,000-€16,000 ($8,560-$17,115).

An unmistakable prize in the Friday, May 10 Orders and Military Collectibles from 1919 sale, and the Hermann Historica May 2024 auction series overall, is an Enigma G cipher machine from the German Intelligence Service, known as Abwehr. Enigma machines have been auction darlings for years now, and many command sums in the high five-figure and the six-figure range. This one, number G 193, which the house describes as ‘The rarest Enigma model in good, untouched condition’, should generate serious interest. Of the 350 machines produced, 20 survive. The Hermann Historica Enigma G carries an estimate of €90,000-€180,000 ($96,285-$192,575).

Charging to the front of the lineup of the Tuesday, May 14 Works of Art, Antiquities & Ancient Art sale is a 4th century BC bronze helmet decorated with an image of ram’s horns and having U-shaped cheek pieces. It was made in the northern Black Sea area and sports a gorgeous dark green patina. Its estimate is €12,000-€24,000 ($12,840-$25,685).

The Fine Antique and Modern Firearms, Part I sale set for Wednesday, May 15 features a model 1891 Laumann system repeating pistol estimated at €15,000-€30,000 ($16,050-$32,105). The Laumann 1891 is considered by some historians as the first semi-automatic pistol, and the one to be presented at Hermann Historica comes with a copy of the gun’s construction drawings. The lot notes, which describe it as an ‘ultra-rare collector’s item’, also state: ‘There is no doubt that this gun was designed by Josef Laumann. The level of involvement of his financiers, the Schönberger brothers, is unknown.’

Thursday, May 16 concludes the May 2024 Hermann Historica series with two auctions on that date. Commencing at 1 pm Eastern time is Fine Antique and Modern Firearms, Part II, which is distinguished by a circa-1650 deluxe wheellock rifle with silver and mother-of-pearl inlays. Made in Vienna for Ferdinand III of Austria, the extremely elaborate embellishments reflect the work of the artisan known as the Master of the Animal-Head Scroll. An example of the unnamed 17th-century gunsmith’s oeuvre is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. This firearm has an estimate of €35,000-€70,000 ($37,430-$74,860).

Completing the parade of delights is Hermann Historica’s Antique Arms and Armour auction, which begins at 4 pm Eastern time. It is highlighted by a circa-1560-1600 Nuremberg suit of black and white cavalry armor, assembled from old components and estimated at €11,000-€22,000 ($11,760-$23,525).

Harry Winston jewelry from the estate of a Baroness sparkles at Roland New York May 4

Harry Winston Diamond, Emerald-Simulant, and Gold Necklace, estimated at $60,000-$80,000 at Roland NY.

GLEN COVE, NY — Baroness Gabriele Langer von Langendorff was no stranger to the spotlight — or controversy — during her storied life as a New York socialite. Von Langendorff owned a fortune in Harry Winston jewelry, much of it given to her by beguiled suitors. She passed away in the summer of 2023, and a number of items from her estate will come to market at Roland New York on Saturday, May 4 as part of the house’s May 2024 Estates Sale, the catalog for which is now open for bidding and review at LiveAuctioneers.

Born in an undetermined year, she was raised in both Germany and The Netherlands and emigrated to to the United States after World War II. She began her social climb in the early 1960s when she married William Klopman, the founder of Burlington Textiles. He was a pioneer in the booming postwar synthetic fabric industry and, as a consequence, was beyond wealthy. So taken with his new wife was he that he built the 40-acre Villa Riele estate on the shore of Lloyd Harbor in Long Island, New York. Langer’s jewelry collection got off to a splashy start when Klopman purchased for her the fabled 77-carat Lesotho Diamond from Harry Winston. (The other half of the original jewel ended up with Elizabeth Taylor, herself no stranger to both high-end jewelry and controversy.)

Klopman passed away in 1974, and Langer didn’t miss a beat, marrying her late husband’s longtime friend, a perfume manufacturer known as ‘Baron’ Peter Langer ‘von Langendorff’ (he was neither nobility nor a von Langendorff, but adopted the title and surname as part of a professional nom de plume). Langer is best remembered as the creator of White Shoulders perfume, a popular postwar brand that he and his first wife dreamed up.

Gabriele went on to lead a jet-set lifestyle in New York, Palm Beach, and Monaco. Her clothes and jewels – she favored extravagant emeralds that complemented her red hair – were featured in society columns around the world. She maintained a lifelong friendship with Harry Winston, who helped create many of the items in her collection.

Alton S. Tobey (1914-2005) is best remembered as a muralist (he did WPA post office murals early in his career), but at some point he received a commission to paint a portrait of Gabriela. Resplendent wearing a huge emerald necklace and Harry Winston diamond earrings, she is depicted sitting regally before a window that likely overlooks Villa Riele’s gardens. The painting is estimated at $3,000-$5,000.

And those very same Harry Winston earrings she wears in the Tobey portrait are also included in the sale. Designed to resemble doorknockers, the pair is set with 182 round brilliant-cut diamonds, has been tested for 18K gold, and is estimated at $30,000-$35,000.

Gabriela’s Harry Winston diamond, emerald-simulant, and gold necklace features a foliate design. The band has graduating pendants set with a whopping 886 round brilliant-cut diamonds and a simulated emerald. The piece is accompanied by a photo image from the Harry Winston archives, and it has an estimate of $60,000-$80,000.

This Harry Winston pendant necklace features 151 round- and pear-shaped brilliant-cut diamonds and square- and baguette-cut sapphires. The pendant is detachable, and, like most pieces in the sale, comes with its signed Harry Winston box. It is estimated at $30,000-$40,000.

The final preview highlight is a Jacques Timey for Harry Winston pair of diamond, emerald, and gold earrings. Set with 146 round brilliant-cut diamonds totaling approximately 10.50 carats, the pair includes a maker’s mark for Jacques Timey. With a signed Harry Winston box, the pair is estimated at $15,000-$20,000.

Jean Paul Riopelle’s ‘Untitled (Abstract)’ leads our five auction highlights

‘Untitled (Abstract)’ by Jean Paul Riopelle, which hammered for $18,000 and sold for $23,040 at Rachel Davis Fine Arts on March 23.

Jean Paul Riopelle, ‘Untitled (Abstract)’, $23,040

CLEVELAND, OH – The March 23 sale at Rachel Davis Fine Arts included a small but prime-period mixed media work on paper by Canadian artist Jean Paul Riopelle (1923-2002). Untitled (Abstract), measuring slightly more than 6 by 11in, was signed and dated 1955 – the moment when Riopelle embraced abstraction and developed his ‘mosaic’ technique. This particular work, which has been authenticated by Yseult Riopelle and included in the artist’s catalogue raisonné, was also included in the solo exhibition Riopelle held at the Gimpel Fils Gallery in London in 1956. Entered for sale from a private collection in Cleveland, Ohio with a modest estimate of $800-$1,200, it hammered at $18,000 and sold for $23,040 with buyer’s premium to a LiveAuctioneers bidder. 

Amegalethoscope by Carlo Ponti, $11,520

Amegalethoscope by Carlo Ponti, which hammered for $9,000 and sold for $11,520 at Bonhams Skinner on March 20.
Amegalethoscope by Carlo Ponti, which hammered for $9,000 and sold for $11,520 at Bonhams Skinner on March 20.

MARLBOROUGH, MA – The invention of the megalethoscope by the Swiss-Italian optician and photographer Carlo Ponti greatly enhanced the experience of viewing photographs. Unveiled at the International Exhibition in 1862, the device created the illusion of both perspective and day and night. To view a photograph in daylight, doors with attached mirrors were opened to reflect sunlight onto the photograph. By closing the door and placing an oil lamp behind the image, the scenes appeared as nocturnes. 

This deluxe megalethoscope in a Renaissance revival walnut and ebonized case previously belonged to the New England industrialist Lucius Bowles Darling, owner of the Pawtucket, Rhode Island Music Hall. Darling and his and wife embarked on a Grand Tour circa 1878, when this piece was purchased. It was sold by Bonhams Skinner in an online sale that closed on March 20 together with the original itemized invoice from Carlo Ponti of Venice, dated July 30, 1878 for 764 lire. The auctioneer thought it might bring $10,000-$15,000, but it sold at $9,000 ($11,520 with buyer’s premium).

Spanish Colonial School Set of Allegories of the Four Continents, $36,250

Set of 18th-century Spanish Colonial School allegories of the four continents, which hammered for $29,000 and sold for $36,250 with buyer’s premium at South Bay Auctions on March 20.
Set of 18th-century Spanish Colonial School allegories of the four continents, which hammered for $29,000 and sold for $36,250 with buyer’s premium at South Bay Auctions on March 20.

EAST MORICHES, NY – Leading South Bay AuctionsMarch 20 sale was this set of 18th-century Spanish Colonial School canvases. Allegories of ‘the Four Continents’ – Africa, Asia, Europe, and America – became a visual staple of Western art in the 18th century. Florentine explorer Amerigo Vespucci’s revelation that the Americas were a unique continent was a key development in the European view of the world.

Pictures such as this are very much a product of colonialism. Condensing the vast scope of global cultures within a single glance makes their iconography anachronistic at best. But this was a very decorative set that gained something from its relatively naïve execution and untouched condition. Together estimated at $600-$800, they hammered for $29,000 ($36,250 with buyer’s premium).

‘The Rapid’ Wheat Shock Loader Salesman’s Sample, $17,700

‘The Rapid’ wheat shock loader salesman sample, which hammered for $14,750 and sold for $17,700 with buyer’s premium at Chupp Auctions March 22.
‘The Rapid’ wheat shock loader salesman sample, which hammered for $14,750 and sold for $17,700 with buyer’s premium at Chupp Auctions March 22.

SHIPSHEWANA, IN – In 1904, William B. Penrose was granted a United States patent (no. 792,549A) for a shock or grain loader, a first-of-its-kind mechanical device designed to pick up cut ‘hay or like field crops with conveyor belts or conveyor chains, with or without pick-up means.’ As hay and wheat harvesting was still accomplished with horse-drawn equipment, Penrose’s innovation was on the cusp of the mechanized agricultural revolution in the United States, and would lead to huge harvesting productivity gains.

On March 22, Chupp Auctions featured a collection of salesman’s samples – miniaturized versions of large-scale equipment for on-site demonstration purposes to prospective clients. In most cases fully operational, these miniatures were easily transported by sales professionals and are highly sought after by collectors today.

This ‘The Rapid’ wheat shock loader salesman’s sample topped the category at Chupp’s 4-Day Auction. Starting at $100, the lot underwent 84 progressively higher bids until it hammered for an astounding $14,750 ($17,700 with buyer’s premium).

Light-Up C3PO Costume Head Worn by Anthony Daniels in ‘Return of the Jedi,’ $877,500

Anthony Daniels Collection C3PO costume head from ‘Return of the Jedi,’ which hammered for $675,000 and sold for $877,500 with buyer’s premium at Propstore March 12.
Anthony Daniels Collection C3PO costume head from ‘Return of the Jedi,’ which hammered for $675,000 and sold for $877,500 with buyer’s premium at Propstore March 12.

VALENCIA, CA – The screen-worn and -matched light-up C3PO costume head worn by English actor Anthony Daniels (b. 1946-) in 1983’s Return of the Jedi hammered for $675,000 ($877,500 with buyer’s premium) at Propstore’s March 12 sale. The weathered head was estimated at $500,000-$1 million, came directly from Daniels’ personal collection, and had been widely photographed and displayed by Daniels at conventions worldwide.

Beyond the Daniels provenance, Propstore officials painstakingly went frame by frame through the film and matched it to several scenes in the Endor sequence, including when Luke Skywalker reunites with the group after his speeder bike chase, and as the rebels scout out and approach the shield reactor. It matches through distinct markings on the right side of C3PO’s outer perimeter ring.

Loosely based on the robot from Fritz Lang’s 1927 science fiction masterpiece Metropolis, the final C3PO head design was executed by Liz Moore for Lucasfilm, producer of the Star Wars franchise at the time. Daniels has owned the prop since then, and decided to send it to market, where it performed admirably.

Edgar Payne and Irv Wyner works star at Moran’s California & Fine Art sale May 7

Edgar Payne, 'Indian Riders,' estimated at $150,000-$200,000 at John Moran.

MONROVIA, CA — Six works by California landscape artist Edgar Payne and three by Warner Bros. animation background artist Irv Wyner lead the 141-lot California & Fine Art sale scheduled for May 7. The complete catalog is now available for review and bidding at LiveAuctioneers.

Edgar Payne (1882-1947) is best known for his Impressionistic landscapes created in the plein-air style. Payne routinely took pack horses to the upper lakes of the Sierra Nevada mountains in east-central California, one of which is now named in his honor. For decades, Payne’s works have hung in prestigious museums and private collections worldwide.

Indian Riders is a highly impressionistic take of two braves on horseback set against a majestic, cloudly sky and desert buttes. Measuring 25 by 30in and gilt framed, the signed oil on canvas is estimated at $150,000-$200,000, making it the sale’s top lot.

Though he likely toiled in obscurity for years prior, Irv Wyner (1904-2002) received his first screen credit as a background artist for Gift Wrapped, a 1952 Sylvester & Tweety animated short produced by the Warner Bros. animation unit headed up by Friz Freleng (1905-1995). It was Freleng who would later create the pioneering 1960s Pink Panther shorts for MGM through his DePatie-Freleng Enterprises partnership with David DePatie (1929-2021), one of the longest-serving executives in Warner Bros. animation history.

Largely unsung in popular culture (except by animation cel collectors), background artists had an incredibly important role in early animation, creating the overall look and feel for the animation that would be overlaid. Wyner’s works in the Moran sale reflect his decades of background work. All three acrylic-on-board works — Light and Shadows –  Farm Scene, Country Farm and Farm Scene in Green — all look like they jumped out of a classic Looney Tunes short. Though Moran dates Light and Shadows to 1970 and the other two remain undated, the works are probably from the later years of Wyner’s life, when former Disney and Warner Bros. animation artists sought to monetize their skills in the burgeoning animation collecting markets of the 1980s and 1990s.