Auctiones GmbH, CH-Bern

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24-09-2016 – 01-01-1970

Auction eAuction #51: Duplicates of the BCD Library

Book rarities of the Library of BCD – Part 3

246 lots comprising duplicates of the BCD Library will be offered for sale in the eAuction of Auctiones GmbH Bern on 25 September 2016. As is customary, the bibliophile discovers many rarities of ancient, most notably Greek, numismatics.

Lot 29: Domenico Sestini, Descrizione delle Medaglie Ispane appartenenti alla Lusitania, alla Betica, e alla Tarragonese che si Conservano nel Museo Hedervariano. Florence 1818. 4 volumes. Bound in full tan leather with brown spine letters. 227 pages. 10 pls. of engravings. Estimate: 100 CHF – A note from BCD: A rare book that will fascinate anyone interested in the ancient coinage of the Iberian Peninsula. Comparison of the somewhat naïve and yet delightfully attractive etchings of the plates to today’s photographs of the corresponding coins may even hold some unexpected surprises for the specialist. Sestini’s text should also not be dismissed outright under any circumstances; he was much more knowledgeable and perceptive than most of his contemporary “numismatists”.

By now, it is the third time that the Bern-based Auctiones GmbH is able to offer duplicates of the BCD Library for auction sale. The range of offer comprises 246 lots of literature on ancient numismatics. They cover the following fields: numismatics in general (7 lots), Greek coins (57 lots), Roman provincial coins (3 lots), Roman coins (8 lots), and most of all rare auction sale catalogs, not only focusing on ancient numismatics (152 lots). Some journals round out the spectrum (18 lots).

Lot 106: Auction catalog C. & E. Canessa, Neapel (22 May 1922). Collection du Comte Ferruccio Brandis. 466 lots, 21 pls. Bound with Jules Florange & Louis Ciani, Paris (28 May 1924). Catalogue des monnaies grecques et romaines, médailles artistiques françaises et étrangères composant la Collection de M. Georges Gallet. 238 lots, 30 pls. 4 volumes, gray-beige linen binding, leather spine labels with gilt letters. Estimate: 100 CHF – A note from BCD: Two scarce auction catalogues bound together in a fine binding of the 60’s. The first with the accent on Magna Graecia and the second displaying on fine plates some superb Greek and Roman as well as the important collection of artistic medals for which the collector is widely known.

It is an attractive assortment that is being on offer. Important monographs, like the die corpus of Susanne Grunauer-von Hoerschelmann on the coinage of the Lakedaimonians or the 1924 and 1925 catalog of counterfeits struck by Becker can be found, supplemented by rare offprints and coveted Sylloges, for example the three volumes of the Lockett Collection, which BCD describes with the following matchless words: “One can never have enough of leafing through the Greek SNG Lockett. Especially when all parts are bound together, making it so much easier to move from one feast for the eyes to another. And to think that his collection of English coins was as important as his Greek! This writer once knew an elderly gentleman who, when he was very young, collected English Mediaeval pennies. He would call Lockett’s residence on several occasions in the late 40’s and ask if he could see his collection. Lockett would always invite him for afternoon tea and would receive him seated in his Winter garden. After tea was served, Lockett would ask him what he wanted to see and then he would say to his butler “James, can you please bring cabinet no. 14”. Those were the days…”

Lot 136: Auction catalog H. Hoffmann, Paris (19 May 1890). Collection Photiades Pacha. Monnaie grecques. 1530 lots, 8 pls. With written hammer prices. Bound with H. Hoffmann (23-24 May, 1890). Collection Photiades Pacha. Monnaies byzantines. 682 lots, 2 pls. 4 volumes. Recent quarter gray leather binding with gilt spine letters. Estimate: 100 CHF – A note from BCD: Undoubtedly Hoffmann’s “Magnum Opus”. The only complaint one can have of this catalogue is that not every coin has been photographed. In the Greek series, the real rarities should be defined by how well they stand the test of time. A coin that was considered very rare in the 1890’s could well be much less rare today. Here, the star pieces of mainland Greece not only have maintained their rarity but one could say that they have become even more legendary. The plates are surprisingly free of the usual foxing and the Byzantine collection, of which the auction never materialized, is also present.

As you can see, the catalog in itself is a treat: The owner of the comprehensive BCD Library gives the potential buyer personal suggestions as to why one or two books are just the thing to add to your library. And it is very easy to become engrossed reading these highly subjective remarks. 

Lot 137: Auction catalog Carlo Kunz, Venedig (1855). 874 numbers, 45 pages, 1 pl. of copper engravings. Recent tan leather binding. Foxed. Estimate: 80 CHF – A note from BCD: This very rare booklet is the stock list of a local coin dealer and gives a glimpse of the coins of Venice available in the trade during the middle of the 19th century. Although the recent full leather binding can be thought of as an extravagance, the opinion of this writer is that it was well worth the cost.

The auction catalogs are the segment for which BCD’s notes are especially helpful. For every single catalog he states the section from which the most important lots stem. That helps you decide which one of the 29 catalogs of the Bourgey company – the first published in 1909, the last dating from 2000 – will be the most valuable asset to your library. This offer includes the 1939 catalog covering a part of the Rue Mouffetard hoard, or the Henry Vernin Collection. Specifics about Vernin’s fate are given in a note of BCD’s: “According to the introduction by Mme. Bourgey, the owner of this collection apparently died in the auction room after he was the winning bidder on a Byzantine coin. What a way to go…” Another important, widely unknown publication is the auction catalog of Charles Dupriez from 1906, providing illustrations of wreathed tetradrachms of the Caiffa hoard in Syria. Which modern collector is still aware of the fact that the Dupriez auction house used to dominate the Belgian coin trade? 

Lot 156: Auction catalog A. & C. Sambon & E. Canessa, Paris (7-9 May 1903). Collection Maddalena. Monnaies Grecques et Romaines. 1123 lots, 9 pls. 4 volumes. Recent half bound dark green leather, marbled boards, gilt spine letters. Interior with edges worn, some stains. Estimate: 50 CHF – A note from BCD: A well known and coveted catalogue of a collection that ranks amongst the finest of the period for Magna Graecia Greek coins and early Roman silver. Some of the sestertii are also impressive and one wishes there was double the number of plates so that more pedigrees could be discovered by the researcher. After the end of the coin descriptions there are tables of concordance between the coin numbers on the plates and the lot numbers. Rarity notes are also incorporated on these tables.

Of course, the names familiar to everybody can be found as well, like the collection of Mr. Theodor Prowe from Moscow and Photiades Pacha. And among the auction houses both familiar and unfamiliar names stand out: Bourgey, Ciani, Delaune, Dupriez, Egger, Feuardent, Hess-Leu, Hirsch, Hoffmann, Numismatica Wien, NFA, Ratto, Sambon, Schulman, Sternberg, and Vinchon.

As usual, the estimates are rather modest. It only takes 5 francs to join the bidding, although it is unlikely that a single lot can be bought at this low a calling price. 

The auction sale will be conducted on the Auctiones website. As of 12 September, all items can be viewed at this address. The auction proper will commence on 25 September, at 7 p.m.

Further details and the possibility to view the books are provided by Auctiones GmbH, P.O. Box 673, 3000 Bern 8, Switzerland; phone +41313113948, e-mail.