London Coins Ltd. > Auction 178Auction date: 3 September 2022
Lot number: 572

Price realized: 44 GBP   (Approx. 51 USD / 51 EUR)   Note: Prices do not include buyer's fees.
Lot description:

A Nazi armband as part of a mixed group (26), includes cap badges, badges and buttons, includes ARP, H.M.Prison, British Legion, Royal Army Service Corps, a World War I Victory Medal and a pair of World War I miniatures War Medal and Victory Medal these mounted for wearing, in mixed grades to EF

Estimate: 30-60 GBP

Starting price: 30 GBP

Match 1:
Spink > Auction 382Auction date: 15 January 2023
Lot number: 438

Price realized: 4,500 USD   (Approx. 4,161 EUR)   Note: Prices do not include buyer's fees.
Lot description:

University of Cambridge, Chancellor's Classical Gold Prize Medal, 1911, by W. Wyon R.A, awarded to Henry Evans Foster, VICTORIA D : G : BRITANNIARUM REGINA ., diademed bust left, rose below, rev. Youth seated left studying, Numeria standing on a plinth facing him, HENRY EVANS FOSTER, B. A. TRINITY COLLEGE, 1911. in exergue in two lines, 55mm, 90.15g (BHM 1981), scratched to the exergue and the edge band bruised, the surfaces lightly contact marked yet pleasingly matte, all relief detail pleasingly struck-up, about extremely fine and extremely rare, the lunettes unfortunately broken during a misguided attempt to test the gold, otherwise in original Wyon Presentation box which is in very good order.
Henry Evans Foster (29 January 1889 - 1 January 1979), attended Trinity College after achieving a Classics Scholarship in 1907. He participated in Varsity Rugby matches between 1909, 1910, and 1911. Achieving 1st Class Hons., he was awarded this presitigious Chancellor's Classical gold Medal with a fellow pupil in 1911. He completed his masters in 1914, before enlisting in the colours during the Great War. Serving first in the Clerks and Works of Munitions, Foster later served in the Army Service Corps, and was fortunate enough to survive hostilities. After the war, he served as schoolmaster and university registrar at Aberystwyth (1939) and later at the University College, London.

The prize was first instituted in 1751, by Thomas Holies, Duke of Newcastle, and has continued by succeeding Chancellors. Each year two gold medals were awarded.
Estimate: $4000 - $5000

Match 2:
Stack's Bowers Galleries (& Ponterio) > January 2023 NYINC AuctionAuction date: 13 January 2023
Lot number: 25264

Price realized: 1,200 USD   (Approx. 1,108 EUR)   Note: Prices do not include buyer's fees.
Lot description:

GERMANY. Medallic Issues. Empire. Death Chokes Italy Cast Iron Medal, 1916. CHOICE UNCIRCULATED.
The Art of Devastation, p. 263, no. 59; Frankenhuis-1499. Diameter: 69mm; Weight: 94.88 gms. By W. Eberbach. Totentanz (Dance of Death) series. Obverse: FÜR - LATEINISCHE - BUNDES - / TREUE / 1915 / TRIENT 1916 FRIAUL (for Latin loyalty 1915, Trentino 1916 Friuli), Death on its knees facing slightly left, choking the Lupa Romana (representing Italy); Reverse: Legend in five lines: AN / SIDNEY / SONNINO / DEN - REDEGE / WANDTEN (to Sidney Sonnino, the eloquent one); all within scaled polylobe. Edge: Some filing marks as made, otherwise plain. Deep charcoal gray surfaces, with a delightful matte nature. Compare to a similar example that realized a total of $2,640 in our August 2021 ANA auction (Lot # 40404).

Similar to the satirical medallic issues of Karl Goetz, Walther Eberbach was inspired by the events of World War I to create a series of rather morbid medals to propagandize the German war effort. The theme upon which he decided to focus was the Totentanz, or "Dance of Death." This series of issues, a divergence from the ephemeral topic of vanitas, portrayed Death as a skeleton, quite gleefully taking joy in the demise of his enemies-the allied powers-rather than a subtle reflection upon life and death. This frank morbidity is expressed by Eberbach himself in a letter to Julius Menadier, in which he writes "...I want whoever holds the pieces in their hands years later to be overcome by the shudder grimness." It's safe to say that, in this desire, Eberbach was astoundingly successful.

After initially joining World War I one the side the Triple Alliance/Central Powers, Italy, under her foreign minister, Sidney Sonnino, signed the Treaty of London in secret, which saw her switch sides and join the allied powers. Additionally, should the allies be successful, the treaty included plans to dismantle the Austro-Hungarian Empire, at least in part to Italy's benefit. The suggestion of this medal is that Italy (represented by the Lupa Romana-the fabled she-wolf that suckled the twins, Romulus and Remus) was receiving her payback for signing such a treaty, namely in the battering which she suffered at the hands of Austria-Hungary in the Trentino Offensive/Battle of Asiago in May-June 1916.

Estimate: $1000 - $1500

Match 3:
Classical Numismatic Group > Islamic Auction 2Auction date: 27 October 2022
Lot number: 329

Price realized: 11,000 USD   (Approx. 10,947 EUR)   Note: Prices do not include buyer's fees.
Lot description:

Ottoman Empire. Abdülhamid II. AH 1293-1327 / AD 1876-1909. Gold Imtiyaz Medal (37mm, 36.18 g, 12h). Dated AH 1300 (AD 1883). In upper cartouche: three-line die-struck legend reading Devlet-i Osmaniye ugrunda fevkalade ibrâz-i sadâkat ve secâat edenlere mahsus madalyadir ('Medal of Merit for outstanding loyalty and bravery on behalf of the Ottoman Empire'); name of recipient al-Imam Yahya Hamid al-Din engraved in curved band below; die-struck date '1300' (the year in which the award was instituted) in frame at bottom. / Toughra of Abdülhamid II, set on sunburst, above trophy of arms with cannon to right and scales of justice to right. Pere 1112; Erüreten p. 252. Tiny piercing at where original suspension (now lacking) would have been affixed. Superb EF. Much original lustre remaining. Extremely rare.

The Imtiyaz Medal (Imtiyaz Madalyasi) was the highest-ranking military award in the Ottoman Empire, instituted by Abdul Hamid II in AH 1300 / AD 1883. It was generally reserved for heads of state amongst Turkey's allies, but was evidently occasionally bestowed on other senior military or diplomatic figures. The first recipients of the Imtiyaz Medal were the Emperors of Germany and Austria-Hungary, whose awards were accompanied by letters from the Sultan dated 30 December 1883 (although the specimen named to Kaiser Wilhelm I is engraved with the date '7 Dhu'l-Hijja 1300', which equates to 9 October 1883). As made, this medal would have been suspended from a red and green silk ribbon, with an elaborate gold openwork suspension bar somewhat similar to the decoration beneath the trophy of arms on the medal itself, connected to a relatively plain suspension loop which was fixed to the medal disk by a simple gold pin. This design seems not to have been particularly robust; other gold Imtiyaz Medals lacking the suspension (as here) are also known, and the specimen named to Kaiser Wilhelm I (Gorny & Mosch auction 197, 9 March 2011, lot 7152, sold for €140,000 hammer) appears to have had a far simpler suspension featuring a plain gold rectangular bar.

Yahya Muhammad Hamid al-Din (18 June AD 1869 – 17 February AD 1948) was born into a branch of the Qasimid dynasty. Following gradual Ottoman incursions into Yemen during the 9/16th century, al-Mansur al-Qasim, the first Qasimid ruler, launched a fightback against the Turks. Under al-Mansur's son, al-Mu'ayyad Muhammad (AH 1029-1054 / AD 1620-1644), the Turks were driven out and the whole of Yemen was unified under Qasimid rule. However, Qasimid rule began to decline from the late 10/16th century onwards, and Turkish forces began to re-establish themselves in Yemen during the 13/19th century. By AH 1289 / AD 1872, Ottoman forces had once again occupied the Yemeni capital, San'a.

Yahya became Imam in AD 1904 following the death of his father, Muhammad al-Mansur. While the Ottomans had stripped the Imams of their secular powers, treating them merely as local religious leaders, Imam Yahya nevertheless retained considerable authority in the mountainous areas of North Yemen and began launching a series of uprisings against Ottoman rule in AD 1905. By AD 1911, the fighting had reached a stalemate, with the Ottomans facing the prospect of war with Italy in Libya, and local support for Imam Yahya's rebellion beginning to crumble. A negotiated settlement suited both parties, and on 18 October 1911 the Treaty of Daan was signed by Imam Yahya and the Ottoman Governor of Yemen, Ahmet Izzet Pasha. Under the terms of the Treaty, Imam Yahya would rule the seven highland districts of Amran, Kawkaban, Dhamar, Yarim, Ibb, Hajjah and Hajjur, which would be governed under Sharia Law rather than Ottoman civil law, while the Ottomans would retain the coastal district of the Tihama. Meanwhile, Imam Yahya agreed to relinquish the title 'Commander of the Faithful', which he and his predecessors had previously held, in exchange for an undertaking from the Ottomans to support him against any future rivals to the Imamate as well as a generous subsidy from the Ottoman treasury.

The Ottoman Empire fell at the end of the First World War, and news of these developments reached Yemen on 14 November 1918. Three days later, Imam Yahya entered San'a where, following meetings and discussion with tribal leaders and other prominent dignitaries, he was proclaimed supreme ruler of all Yemen. Ottoman officials who were prepared to stay in Yemen were retained in post, with a view to maintaining an effective administrative infrastructure. A regular army was formed in 1919, and army cadets were being sent for training in Iraq by the 1930s. The first of many treaties which acknowledged Yemen as a sovereign state was signed with Italy in 1926, and following the Saudi – Yemeni War of 1934 the border between these two countries was fixed under the terms of the Treaty of Taif. However, Imam Yahya refused to recognise his southern border with the British Aden Protectorate, resulting in friction and occasional clashes between Yemen and the British authorities.

Imam Yahya was shot and killed during an attempted coup on 17 February 1948. Following his assassination, a member of the rival Sayyid dynasty, Abdullah b. Ahmad al-Wazir, seized power for several weeks before being overthrown and executed by Saudi-backed forces led by Imam Yahya's son, Ahmad. Ahmad b. Yahya remained as ruler of the Yemen until his own death in 1962.

Throughout his life, Imam Yahya refused to have his portrait painted or his photograph taken. The image shown here comes from the frontispiece to Ameen Rihani's book Arabian Peak And Desert, Travels In Al Yaman (1930). If it is an accurate likeness of Imam Yahya, it was presumably drawn from memory.

Estimate: 15000 USD

Match 4:
Stack's Bowers Galleries (& Ponterio) > January 2023 NYINC AuctionAuction date: 13 January 2023
Lot number: 23587

Price realized: 850 USD   (Approx. 785 EUR)   Note: Prices do not include buyer's fees.
Lot description:

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Sextet of Medals Awarded to Major General Andre W. Brewster (6 Pieces), 1914-18. Grade Range: VERY FINE to ALMOST UNCIRCULATED.
Major General Andre W. Brewster was a career military officer who served in the United States Army from 1885-1925. During this forty year career, Brewster saw action firstly on the American frontier at the tail end of the Indian Wars, later fighting in the Spanish-American War, the Boxer Rebellion, and the First World War, finally serving stateside after 1921. It was during the Boxer Rebellion that Brewster received his highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, with the citation reading: "The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Captain (Infantry) Andre Walker Brewster, United States Army, for gallantry in action on 13 July 1900, while serving with the 9th Infantry at Tientsin, China. While under fire Captain Brewster rescued two of his men from drowning." Later during the First World War, Brewster served as Inspector General of the General Headquarters for the American Expeditionary Force. It was in this role that Brewster played a valuable service tendering advice to John J. Pershing regarding the performance and capabilities of division commanders. In the course of his service in Europe, Brewster was awarded many medals by the various allied European Nations, five of which make this lot. Included are as follows.

Belgium. Order of Leopold Grand Cross with Swords. Instituted 11 July 1832. EXTREMELY FINE. Ribbon is likely not original. Barac-181

France. Croix de Guerre with Palm Pin and Ribbon. Instituted 2 April 1915. VERY FINE. Barac-372.

France. Order of the Legion of Honour Grand Cross with Ribbon. Instituted 19 May 1802. EXTREMELY FINE. Barac-577.

Great Britain. Order of St. Michael and St. George. Instituted 28 April 1818. EXTREMELY FINE. Barac-758.

Italy. Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus Commander Grade with Ribbon. Instituted 16 September 1572. ABOUT UNCIRCULATED. Barac-790.

United States of America. Shriner's Legion of Honor Badge with Ribbon. VERY FINE.

Estimate: $1000 - $2000

Match 5:
Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC > Treasure Auction 32Auction date: 3 November 2022
Lot number: 1238

Price realized: 140,000 USD   (Approx. 143,486 EUR)   Note: Prices do not include buyer's fees.
Lot description:

USA, proof silver medal, Declaration of Independence (struck in the 1850s), by Charles Cushing Wright, unique in silver, NGC MS 62 [sic], ex-Bushnell, ex-Garrett, ex-Adams. Musante GW183; Baker (Rulau-Fuld) 53G. 91mm; 259.0 grams. NGC 6481717-001. Pedigreed to the John Adams Collection, with entire ownership pedigree dating back to Charles Ira Bushnell (Chapman auction of June 1882, lot 1274), Garrett Estate (Bowers & Ruddy auction of April 1981, lot 1910), Julian Leidman (Bowers & Merena auction of April 1986, lot 4126), and Charles A. Warton (Stack's Bowers auction of March 2014, lot 2077), subsequently purchased by Adams in the Stack's Bowers auction of August 2018 (lot 46). Estimate: $25,000-up.

Manmade beauty comes in many forms. As numismatists we discern artistic beauty in a handheld piece of history. The beauty of a coin or medal starts with its engraver; next its striking, which is critical as a bad strike can ruin a beautiful design. Finally, the toning of the metal, which takes many years to happen, is a process over which we have much less control. For some pieces, there is one final distinction, a coup de grâce known as pedigree, for only a piece that was held and admired by the greatest collectors can have such psychological beauty.

When this medal was designed and struck sometime in 1852 to 1854 by Charles Cushing Wright, only a bronze version was advertised, first published in Norton's Literary Letter in 1857. The first auction appearance of one of these bronzes (of which only two to four are known today), was in the Edward Cogan (Philadelphia) sale of March 25-26, 1862, from a collection billed as “The Property of a Private Gentleman [John K. Wiggan], Collected Without Regard to Expense,” lot 757, described as “extremely rare” (consider how many ten-year-old numismatic items today could be considered “extremely rare”). The next known auction offering of a bronze example was in June 20-24, 1882 (lot 1275), when the Chapman Brothers (Samuel Hudson Chapman and Henry Chapman, also in Philadelphia) handled the collection of the estate of Charles Ira Bushnell, the medal again described as “extremely rare,” but with a note that it was the same as the lot above it, lot 1274, in silver. That lot was the same silver piece you see now, with a brief description ending in “Silver. Proof. Unique in this metal.”

Why did they believe it was unique? The answer lies in the owner, Bushnell, who was a known patron of Wright’s work and presumably had it struck for himself as a specimen. It is inconceivable that the Chapmans would have made that assertion if Bushnell himself had not told them. Note it was also described as Proof by the Chapmans, another term that they would only state if true (a fact that was recognized by PCGS when this piece was graded as SP63 by that firm, its current designation of MS 62 by NGC a bit indefensible).

The design itself was not unique, however. Not only were there identical versions in bronze, as noted, but also its scene of the presentation of the draft of the Declaration of Independence to the Continental Congress on June 28, 1776 (based on the famous 1818 painting by John Trumbull that hangs in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol and graces the back of our $2 bill) was used by Wright to make other medals with the bust of George Washington on the other side. It is interesting to note that even as long ago as 1882 the Chapman Brothers erroneously described this scene as the signing of the Declaration of Independence, whereas in fact the image shows the five-man drafting committee (consisting of John Adams, Richard Sherman, Robert R. Livingston, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin) presenting their draft to a seated John Hancock. Each man pictured in the scene was a real person, 47 in all, of which 42 were actual signers of the Declaration (fourteen signers were not depicted, as Trumbull could not find accurate likenesses of them, the remaining five “extras” being luminaries who were present for the debates but not for the signing). The scene itself, however, is a fantasy, as these 47 men were never all in that room at the same time, “that room” being none other than Independence Hall in Philadelphia. It is amazing how well the painting lent itself to a medal format, the depth of perspective and finely detailed portraits faithfully rendered down to the last detail, even showing the right foot of the preternaturally tall Jefferson almost stepping on the comparatively short Adams’ left foot, once believed to have been symbolic of their legendary post-Independence rivalry. Above the scene is DECLARATION / OF and below is INDEPENDENCE and the date of the signing, July 4, 1776.

The other side of the medal bears a square tablet with a veritable curriculum vitae of the United States, listing eighteen events that led up to the momentous occasion of our Independence, as follows:


Scenes at top and bottom depict a small boat of Europeans landing at a rocky promontory guarded by an Indian (often described as Columbus’ landing in the New World, but that is doubtful considering the list of events) above, and a wharf scene with building, ships and lighthouse at bottom (perhaps Boston Harbor, but the design of the lighthouse is different). As with the other side, the artistry is par excellence.

Well designed and well struck, yes… but the third aesthetic factor is the icing on the cake: As a silver medal, this piece was subject to whatever mysterious chemical forces cause colorful toning on silver only, such that in the right light the surfaces positively radiate with a supernova burst of blue, green, purple and golden orange, all with underlying luster from proof-quality preparation. The wire rims are high, with just a small nick or two, and the struck details are thoroughly raised and devoid of weakness or wear. Much like the Liberty Bell, this gem bears a dignified flaw in the form of a meandering die-crack, from just right of the top to the middle on the reverse (considered a possible explanation for the extreme rarity of this issue), in addition to a small flaw or mark just to the right of the date 1643 and faint hairlines that any medal like this would have, all mere beauty spots on the alabaster countenance of a proper lady.

But as we said, there is one more quality that creates psychological beauty, a pride of ownership achieved by the desire to fight to own something so pleasing in artistry and preservation, namely its pedigree. Here we can trace this very same medal from its sponsoring first owner, Bushnell; thence to T. Harrison Garrett and his son, John Work Garrett, whose collection was sold by Bowers & Ruddy, this piece auctioned as lot 1910 in Part 4 (April 26, 1981); subsequently sold by Bowers & Merena as part of the Julian Leidman Collection on April 12, 1986 (lot 4126); next in the Charles A. Wharton Collection auctioned by Stack’s Bowers Galleries March 26-April 1, 2014 (lot 2077), where it was finally given the entire page it deserved; and finally the Stack’s Bowers auction of August 22, 2018, this time on the cover of the catalog and monopolizing two pages, as lot 46. The buyer in that auction was our own John Adams, in fact an indirect descendant of the John Adams who is shown “front and center” on this medal—what a fitting pedigree! But as any seasoned numismatist knows, it is not we humans but the items we collect that live on, and now this monumental opus will find a new home. Surely its next pedigree will be another name of collecting distinction.

Estimate: $25000 - $50000