You have 2 more free articles remaining

The main feature of this sale was the collection of Florentine baroque medals formed by Klaus Lankheit (d.1992), a celebrated expert on the relevant sculpture. If you do not have the standard work on this subject by Vannel and Toderi (1987) this catalogue is the next best thing and a current price guide to boot. There are a large number of these massive (most are about 80mm+ diameter) bronze cast medals. However, it is a tall order to find an individual example – this may have been the last opportunity for the forseeable future. There were 131 lots but demand for them was sporadic, and 55 failed to find a new owner. This is a failure rate of some 41 per cent.

It is difficult to understand why this should be. Perhaps there were too many on the market at one time, maybe the clientele is more sculpture-oriented than numismatic. But, for whatever reason, I believe that these now easily identifiable miniature sculptures are surely underpriced.

Most of the examples which sold went in the £200-400 range, but seven did break the magic £1000 barrier. The highest price was the £4600 paid for the 1715 portrait medal of perhaps the greatest exponent of this type of medal: Massimiliano Soldani-Benzi (estimate £1500-2000). Although this medal bears the signature of his sculptor brother Selvi, the technical brilliance of this particular medal indicates that Soldani-Benzi had a hand in its production. It is easy to understand why this medal did so well.

As at the specialist medal sale there was also a strong museum participation in this general sale. The Met in New York purchased a portrait medal of Cosimo de Medici for £1700 (estimate £800-1000). The British Museum acquired a medal by Christorph Weiditz of the Duke of Saxony for £920 (estimate £700-1000) and the Musée d’Histoire d’Art of Luxembourg paid £11,000 (estimate £10,000-12,500) for an interesting group of medals in lead. This was apparently a collection which was recently found in wet ground in the Low Countries. Not only is this group interesting from the point of view of the history of collecting but it demonstrates that dampness is a good preserver of lead artefacts.