This article was originally published in Antique Trader
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The auction houses Pierre Bergé & Associés in Brussels and Hermann Historica oHG in Munich opened doors on Dec.. 13 for the auctions of the fantastic collections of Karsten Klingbeil. Museum representatives, specialist traders and collectors from all over the world gathered at the head office of the Belgian cooperation partner at the beginning of the auction of the private museum of the renowned Berlin sculptor, philanthropist and former construction mogul.
On the previous evening the audience had been prepared for this important event by specialist presentations, and on the following day about 100 lots of unique preserved crustaceans in conjunction with 240 of the total of 600 historically significant objects in the field of antique arms and armor came under the hammer. In this group complete armors ranging in date from the 15th to the 17th century as well as a selection of helmets, hafted weapons, swords, daggers, shields and luxurious antique firearms that cover the historical span of 13 centuries were offered for sale.
Enormous international interest in the rare, unique objects had been evident for months. Hence the active attendance in the full audience and on the telephones led to a sensational sale rate of 100 percent and top bids in all sections.
A sensationally rare tournament armour for the Italian tilt that dates from the end of the 16th century convinced the top-class audience. Whereas other forms of armor had been designed to protect the bearer and, at the same time, ensure mobility and convenience, tournament armors were built for a far more sturdy purpose. Their only function was the utmost protection for the participants of the jousting. With the closed,
one-piece helmet the present object was a perfect representative of this extremely rare type and currently the only known example of an Italian tournament armor in private possession worldwide. This rarity had its price, and whereas the assessment amounted to $441,200. Outright bidding wars were also fought over a jousting armor, dating from circa 1500, consisting of the single elements: sallet, back-plate as well as breast-plate and leg protection. The impressive condition and rarity was acknowledged by the expert audience and was immediately bid up to $424,566.
Among the hafted and edged weapons especially a glaive from 1605 – 1610 and a very early medieval sword stood out. The richly ornamented ceremonial glaive – attributed to the palace guard of Cardinal and founder of the Borghese art collection, Scipione Caffarelli-Borghese (1577 – 1633) – realized a winning bid of $94,710. Also twice as much as the starting price was offered for lot number 29, the medieval sword from 1350 – 1400, probably England; $39,187 had to be paid for this beautiful object in excellent condition.
Equally keen was the interest in the luxurious antique firearms with lavishly inlaid fruitwood stocks from the exceptional collection of Karsten Klingbeil. Among them were extremely finely crafted weapons such as a German or Bohemian wheellock rifle from 1667, decorated with horn and ivory inlays, which realized $73,149, as well as a rare pair of pistols with ivory mounts, Maastricht, circa 1680, that was auctioned for $97,968.
Just as sought-after during this auction were the rare exemplars for the protective principles of the animal world that served as natural models for humankind. The most impressive exhibit, a Japanese Spider crab, Macrocheira Kaempferi, not only the largest living crustacean – with a span of up to three metres – but furthermore considered to be the largest living arthropod, changed hands for $29,390.
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