Cumae, 350 - 340 BC.
Height 33,6cm, ø mouth 31,2cm.
with cow horns.
Width 22cm, height 19cm, depth ca. 7cm.
Taranto, early 4th century BC.
depicted as a bearded man with luxurious curls.
Roman Imperial Period, last quarter 2nd century A.D.
Roman Imperial Period, 1st / 2nd century AD.
the bust of armed Minerva to the left supported
by two entagled snakes.
Roman Imperial Period, 2nd century A.D.
with palmette below.
Length 19cm, width 8cm, height 7cm.
Roman, about 50 - 150 AD.
Cologne, 2nd - 3rd century AD.
Greenish translucent glass.
About 130 - 150 A.D.
32cm - 22 cm on a thin wavy wood panel.
1st - 3rd century A.D.
Strong October Auctions at SINCONA AG in Zurich
24-26 October 2023
Once again, the catalogues for Auctions 84 to 87 of SINCONA AG in Zurich were true heavy-weights. They included Auction 84 with coins and medals from Russia as well as Auction 85 with part 1 of the Kian Collection, comprising machine-minted coins and medals of Persian rulers and a wealth of wonderful rarities, patterns and special issues. Another highlight was of course part 5 of the SINCONA British Collection – Auction 86 with issues from Celtic Britain to the most expensive piece of this auction cycle from the 21st century. Finally there was catalogue 87 with world coins and medals, the regularly held bullion auction, Swiss coins and medals including the Swissmint pattern collection, banknotes from Switzerland and, ultimately, objects from Werner Merk’s coin shop in Zurich.
Overall, these 4767 lot numbers realised a total hammer price of more than 13 million Swiss Francs, which is almost twice their estimate. But let us start from the beginning and go through the auctions with the help of a few outstanding examples.
Before the start of Auction 84 with Russian issues, SINCONA’s CEO Jürg Richter was once again keen to stress that world numismatics must be detached from any current political, military or religious conflict. Coins and medals are witnesses to the cultures of all eras and must not be dragged into current debates. By the way, this also holds true for the pieces of the Kian Collection. How can people be so narrow-minded as to impose bans on centuries-old objects just because a certain country is currently ruled by people who have started wars or have a different view of human rights?
The 581 lots with Russian issues realised a total hammer price of 3.63 million Swiss Francs. Here are three outstanding examples.
- Lot 6: Russia, Peter I, 1682-1725. Rouble 1705, Kadashevsky Mint. Very rare. NGC XF Details. Hammer price: CHF 90,000.
- Lot 93: Russia, Catherine II, 1762-1796. 20 Kopekes 1763, St. Petersburg Mint. Extremely rare. NGC AU58. Hammer price: CHF 140,000.
- Lot 270: Russia, Nicholas I, 1825-1855. Pulopoltinnik 1827, St. Petersburg Mint. Extremely rare. NGC MS63. Hammer price: CHF 700,000.
In 2018, the first part with machine-minted coins and medals of Persian rulers from the Kian Collection was auctioned off as a whole. After the purchase, the owner had all pieces graded by NGC, and decided five years later to offer the issues of the collection as individual lots. In this way, interested collectors finally had an opportunity of acquiring these rarities of outstanding quality. The 364 lot numbers of Auction 85 generated a total hammer price of more than 2.17 million Swiss Francs. It was a great joy to see how emotionally the bidders in the auction room and online fought for the pieces.
- Lot 1006: Iran/Persia, Naser al-Din Shah, 1264-1313 AH (1848-1896). 25 Tomans 1313 AH (AD 1895/1896). Tehran mint. Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the reign. Of the highest rarity, perhaps the only known specimen. NGC MS61. Hammer price: CHF 115,000.
- Lot 1156: Iran/Persia, Mozaffar ad-Din Shah, 1313-1324 AH (AD 1896-1907). Gold medal of 10 Tomans 1318 AH (AD 1900). Commemorating his visit to Paris. Extremely rare showpiece. In original case. NGC MS65. Hammer price: CHF 110,000.
- Lot 1343: Iran/Persia. Bronze medal 1273 AH (AD 1856/1857) “Glory and Pride”. Very rare and of outstanding condition. NGC MS63 BN. Hammer price: CHF 8,000.
Part 5 of the SINCONA British Collection, Auction 86, focused on two main chapters: Celtic coins and gold issues from the 19th to the 21st century. The collecting community of Celtic coinage from Britain is rather large, a fact that is reflected by the result fetched by the 105 specimens. The 83,000 Swiss Francs mean that the issues were sold at 116% of their estimates.
- Lot 1591: Great Britain, Celtic coinage. Catuvellauni / Andoco, 20-1 BC. Gold Stater, Andoco Phallic Bucranium Type. About extremely fine. Hammer price: CHF 8,000.
Next was a large series of Sovereigns and fractional pieces by William IV to Elizabeth II, which also enabled collectors of smaller budgets to purchase gold coins for the important SINCONA British Collection. At least one coin from this special ensemble should be found in the collection of every enthusiast of British coinage! However, towards the end of this catalogue, the bidding battle reached impressive heights once again as Proof Sets and modern gold pieces of 5 Pounds and about 40 g as well as, eventually, the most expensive coin with a weight of 5 kg came under the hammer. Holding this 5000-Pound piece – and we cannot omit this truly unique coin in our review – of half a million Swiss Francs in your hands is certainly a very special numismatic experience! By the way, the total result of the catalogue of part 5 of the SINCONA British Collection was 1.477 million Swiss Francs.
- Lot 1845: Great Britain, Kingdom. Elizabeth II, 1952-2022. Proof 5000 Pounds 2019, Royal Mint, Llantrisant. “Una and the Lion” motif. 5 kilograms of gold, a diameter of 17.5 cm. NGC PF69 ULTRA CAMEO. Hammer price: CHF 500,000.
Two and a half days with the sale of world coins and medals, large quantities of precious metals, Swiss issues including the one-of-a-kind pattern series of Swissmint in Bern, as well as many numismatic, philatelic and other objects from Werner Merk’s coin shop filled the over 1.5-kilo catalogue of SINCONA’s Auction 87. The nearly 2000 lot numbers realised a total hammer price of 5.84 million Swiss Francs. We do not want to burden you with numbers but share this experience with you by showing some particularly interesting and attractive pieces!
- Lot 2212: Germany, Maximilian I, 1598-1651. 5 Ducats 1640. Commemorating the refortification of the city of Munich. NGC MS62. Hammer price: CHF 44,000.
- Lot 2498: Great Britain, Victoria, 1837-1901. Silver prize medal 1863 of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. Splendid patina, about FDC. Hammer price: CHF 1,400.
- Lot 2531: India / British India, Victoria, 1837-1901. 1 Mohur 1841, Bombay mint. Rare in this condition. PCGS MS62. Hammer price: CHF 17,500.
- Lot 3186: Czechia, Albrecht v. Wallenstein, 1623-1634. Taler 1626, Jičín mint. Very rare, about extremely fine with splendid patina. Hammer price: CHF 30,000.
- Lot 4096: Switzerland, Grisons/Diocese of Chur. Johann Anton von Federspiel, 1755-1777. Ducat 1767, Chur mint. Extremely rare and of magnificent condition. Extremely fine to FDC. Hammer price: CHF 34,000.
- Lot 4149: Switzerland, Solothurn/Monastery of St. Ursus (“Chorherrenstift”). Broad representative taler n.d. (1555), Berta Taler. Very rare and good very fine. Hammer price: CHF 21,000.
In the numismatic history of every country, there are coins and medals that are not only of great rarity but also tell a very special story. Connoisseurs of Swiss rarities found such a very piece with the so-called 1897 Gondo gold vreneli. Near the Italian border at the small municipality of Gondo, the “Société Suisse des Mines d’or de Gondo” was looking for gold at the end of the 19th century. Unfortunately, their success was rather moderate. Part of the found precious metal was minted into 79 gold pieces; as few as 29 specimens in 1897 – they can be identified thanks to the small cross at the centre of the Swiss coat of arms and their colour.
- Lot 4249: Switzerland, Confederation. 20 Francs 1897, Bern mint. Made of Gondo gold. Extremely rare. FDC. Hammer price: CHF 170,000.
As a special chapter, attention must be drawn to a series of “true” patterns from Swissmint in Bern of 2022 and 2023. These pieces were either made with a die that was not used for the production of the actual coins, were later issued with other face values, or were minted with a different press force (approximately between 104 and 119 tons) in order to find the perfect way to produce the coins that would actually be issued. Here is an example:
- Lot 4341: Switzerland, Confederation. 25 Francs 2023, Bern mint. 175 Years of the Swiss Federal Constitution 1848-2023. Extremely rare, only 3 specimens minted. The final issue had a face value of 50 Francs. NGC PF70 ULTRA CAMEO. Hammer price: CHF 36,000.
After a small series of Swiss banknotes, SINCONA bid farewell to the late coin dealer Werner Merk, who worked in his beloved “collector’s paradise” up to the age of 90 years. The many objects from his coin shop in Zurich’s Old Town accounted for 226 lots with coins and medals, banknotes, stamps and much more. The hammer price of more than two hundred thousand Swiss Francs represents a well-deserved goodbye to one of the last old-school coin dealers in Switzerland.
In just a few months, the May Auctions 2024 will take place. The team of the Zurich numismatists will make most of this time as another highlight of Swiss numismatics will come under the hammer – the first part of the Konrad Bürki Collection. Therefore, let us look forward to the spring and the next SINCONA auction sales.