[bsa_pro_ad_space id=4]

Historical Testimonies of the International Coin Trade at Künker

From 7th to 9th December 2021, the Osnabrück auction house Künker offers in its eLive Premium Auction 357 almost 2,000 lots with historical fixed-price lists and auction catalogs from the Alain Poinsignon Library. Many collectors around the world are familiar with the Strasbourg coin dealer. He opened his first coin shop in 1974 in Mulhouse. In 1984, he moved to Strasbourg, where he ran the “Poinsignon Numismatique” shop for many decades. Alain Poinsignon took pride in the excellent quality of his coin identifications, for which he compiled an extensive library. With about 8,000 books, magazines and 3,000 auction catalogs, his numismatic library is probably one of the most important specialist libraries of Europe in private hands.

With meticulousness, knowledge and passion, Alain Poinsignon collected the historical auction catalogs of the 19th and early 20th century that are of essential importance to any coin dealer who cares about the provenance of special items. A bibliophile delight awaits the bidder. Alain Poinsignon himself was a bibliophile in the best sense, and attached particular importance to neat bindings.

Lot 3566: Joseph Hamburger, Auction [1] of 16 October 1905, Frankfurt am Main. Max Ritter von Wilmerdörffer’sche Münzen und Medaillen-Sammlung. Erste Serie: Kunstmedaillen der Renaissance, Münzen und Medaillen der Schweiz, Frankreich, Elsass und Lothringne, Baden, Württemberg, Hohenzollern. Poinsignon half leather binding. Dedication copy printed on extra fine paper.

A Glance at the History of the International Coin Trade

Auction catalogs and fixed-price lists are the best source for reconstructing the history of the coin trade. Therefore, it is absolutely justified that these works became collectibles over the past two decades. They tell us about the men and women who supplied collectors all over the world with coins for many centuries.

At this point, we would like to present just one example. It represents numerous coin dealers and collectors whose past is documented by the works that are part of the Poinsignon Library.

Lot No. 3566 takes us to Frankfurt, where Leo Hamburger, founder of the then most important coin dealership in Germany, had died on 12 February 1902. The Name L. & L. Hamburger stood for him and his cousin of the same name, who had helped him build up the business as his partner for almost 30 years. But Leo Hamburger had a son. Although Joseph had learned the trade in his father’s coin shop for a few, short years, he had preferred to go abroad to make his fortune. He did not succeed in doing so. Therefore, he travelled back home to claim his share of the inheritance as soon as he heard of his father’s death. Naturally, a dispute arose between him and Leo Hamburger the younger. The dispute was only settled more than a year later. Joseph Hamburger got his father’s house, which had housed the L. & L. Hamburger coin shop until then. Leo Hamburger the younger took over the company including all assets and liabilities. However, he had to move and establish his company at a new address. At that time, both – Leo Hamburger and Joseph Hamburger – competed for the old customers of the late company founder.

Joseph Hamburger achieved a coup in this process, as is evidenced by his first auction catalog: he succeeded in convincing friends of his family to auction off their extensive collection with him immediately after founding the new company. Max Ritter von Wilmersdörffer, who died in 1903, had been apprenticed to Josef Nathan Oberndörffer in Munich together with Joseph’s father Leo Hamburger. In addition to his bank, Oberndörffer operated an international coin dealership in Ansbach, Munich, Vienna and Paris. Thus, Wilmersdörffer trained as both banker and numismatist, and when he married Oberndörffer’s only daughter, he became his heir. After Oberndörffer’s death, Wilmersdörffer became head of the bank while the coin trade was still operated by Abraham Merzbacher, who had married a niece of Oberndörffer. In 1873, the bank cut ties with its numismatic department, which developed into the Munich coin shop Merzbacher. But Wilmersdörffer had obviously caught the numismatic virus. He became one of the most important coin collectors in Bavaria and a founding member of the Bavarian Numismatic Society.

The specimens of this important collection are shown on 18 plates.

Collectors, Collectors, Collectors

That is a lot of history for little money, isn’t it? If you cannot afford medallions from the Gnecchi Collection, aurei from the Montagu Collection, Greek coins from the Caruso Collection or unique rarities from the collection of the Egyptian King Farouk, the auction catalogs that offered these collections are a true alternative. You can find the catalogs of all your favorite provenances in the Poinsignon Library at Künker.

All lots have a starting price of 10 euros, which is why every bibliophile has a chance to get their hands on one of the almost 2,000 lots.


You can find the eLive Premium Auction online. To order a catalog contact Künker, Nobbenburger Straße 4a, 49076 Osnabrück; phone: +49 541 962020, fax: +49 541 9620222; or via e-mail. Please remember to register for the online auction in good time if you don’t have your myKuenker account yet.