by Richard FalkinerThe calendar year gets off to an early start with sales in New York in January and then nothing much happens until spring is heralded by March. Nature abhors a vacuum and there is always somebody who fills the slot.
From time to time this column has reported sales by Teutoburger Münzauktion (15% buyer's premium) in Germany.
There are three or four Teutoburger sales each year, this last sale was their 23rd. Almost whatever your interest their catalogues are worth diligent study.
These sales deserve a wide audience because they contain much that is of interest and a fair number of bargains.
I always look forward to their telephone booklike catalogues thudding onto my doormat. Their most recent sale (over 4500 lots) of all periods arrived in good time to make bids on February 25 and the following day. To demonstrate my point, please observe the bronze medal which almost falls into the category of a miniature of Frederick the Great of Prussia.
It is the sort of thing that every proud German should aspire to possess; indeed it is a fine portrait. For all that it was only estimated at a niggardly €75. I express no surprise that it realised a well-deserved €170 (£117).
Despite one's historically motivated feelings about Kaiser Bill, the bronze portrait plaque (1908) by R. Otto, a successful sculptor of the day, should appeal to our aesthetic sensibilities. It is indeed a fine example of portraiture. Again the estimate was surely affordable - €60 - with it making €75 (£51).
While still on a germanic theme, to the architectural or topographical historian I commend the 1710 silver Klippe (i.e. sheared) medal of the Maria Magdalen Gymnasium in Breslau, a really lovely piece of silver worthy to live outside a mere münzekabinett.
What to estimate it? €350 seemed a good number. Actually it realised just €340 (£235).
Albrecht Dürer's image of the stoic knight requires little reminder. A cast-iron plaque of this famous icon came in exactly on estimate at €50 (£34).
Depending on your view, Martin Luther is hero or villain. His portrait by Lucas Cranach is so familiar as to be iconic. On offer was a rectangular plaquette of Luther. Estimated at €70, it obtained a winning bid of €110 (£75).
To close, vanity compels me to report on a pattern Hansa-Ecu. In 1993 your writer was commissioned to design a medallic Hansa-Ecu of the Town of Lübeck. It was sculpted by Ian Rank-Broadley who was later to find fame as the sculptor of our Queen's most recent portrait head on the UK coinage.
Like so many things germanic, it, too, has a topographical interest. There was a gold (900/1000) example in this sale estimated at €80. I am proud to tell you that it made €90 (£62). This is about 15 per cent over its melt value.