The year got off to an encouraging start for the coin specialist Künker (23% buyer’s premium) in Osnabrück. The January 28 auction achieved almost a dozen six-figure results, with many pieces going way above the estimates.
The coin with the most newsworthy story was a gold 10 ruble piece, struck in 1757 from a die by the Swiss medallist Jacques-Antoine Dassier during the reign of Empress Elizabeth of Russia.
The coin was found by a Berlin pensioner among the effects of his deceased father, who had been born in St Petersburg.
Having been turned away by one dealer, who thought it was a fake, and being offered €900 by another, the owner eventually brought it to Künker, where it was priced at €150,000.
An added attraction was its provenance: a hallmark impressed in the coin showed it to have belonged to the 19th century Russian collector Count Emeryk Hutten-Czapski, who owned more than 11,000 coins and other works of art.
The rarity was not lost on the handful of international bidders who joined in, with the hammer falling at €210,000 (£185,840).
One of the favourite lots at the sale of coins and antiquities at Hirsch (23% buyer’s premium) in Munich on February 10-12 was a gold Aureus Lugdunum, struck during the reign of the Gallic Emperor Postumus. He is depicted with a crown of laurels on the one side and seated with his orb and sceptre on the reverse.
Marcus Cassianius Latinius Postumus was a Roman commander in Gaul who rebelled against the authority of the then Emperor Gallienus and in the year 260 took over power in much of the western part of the empire, giving himself the title of Gallic Emperor.
The territories he controlled encompassed most of France, Germany, Britain and Spain. However, in 269 he was murdered by his own soldiers.
The well-preserved gold coin in the Munich auction had once belonged to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and was sold by Sotheby’s in November 1972 to a Cologne collector, several of whose pieces were now in the Munich sale.
The catalogue guide was €15,000, but several collectors pushed the price to €22,000 (£19,470).
£1 = €1.13