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Important KOM Auctions #2

Updated: Mar 18, 2021

Auction Series. #2;

Adolph Hess, 28th March 1933.

Collection of Archduke Sigismund Hapsburg of Austria.

Thanks to Emmanuel Azzopardi for the invaluable anecdotal and academic advice.

The first auction of Adolph Hess was held in 1871 in Frankfurt, after which he officiated many important auctions including the collection of the Prince of Montenovo which contained various important KOM pieces. His company was sold off to Louis Hamburger with many other noted numismatic experts such as Herman Rosenberg (Glendining 1960) and Dr Busso Peus involved over the years.

In 1931, due to the unrest and impending persecution of Jews, the firm moved to Lucerne in Switzerland. Eventually in 1995, the late Jean Paul Divo joined the company which became Hess Divo.

Our feature today is the sale of the outstanding collection of Archduke Sigismund of Austria, about whom I have found very little information apart from the fact that he was an eminent academic and numismatist.

Among the 66 lots of the Knights of Malta, the following deserve a special mention;

Rhodes period;

Lot 1083, a half Gros of Fulques de Villaret

Lot 1098, a stunning double Zecchino of Emeric D’Amboise

Lot 1100, an exceedingly rare double denier of Guy de Blanchefort, the Grandmaster that never was.

In the Malta section;

Lot 457, a beautiful rare round shield Zondadari Zecchino

Lot 453, 4Zecchini of Adrien de Wignacourt.

Lot 443, another portrait double Zecchino of Lascaris. This is the first time that it is correctly described as a coin rather than a medal.

In the silver section;

Lot 421 is a wonderful 1553 4Tari, which sold for 255 Swiss Francs. A huge amount at the time.

Lot 437 is a rare undated 3 Tari. Note the large size which would indicate that this coin was minted pre 1609.

Lot 452 is a stunning Carafa Carlino.

Two interesting facts about this auction;

1) Most of these coins have never been seen again and are unaccounted for.

They may all be in an unknown collection.

2) Many of the coins were passed and remained unsold.

This may be due to the fact that we were in the middle of the Great Depression, but more likely due to the fact that a few months previously, in nearby Lugano, Rodolfo Ratto held the auction of what was possibly the greatest KOM collection ever assembled.

The Canon Calleja Schembri sale.

But that is for another episode.....



Secretary General

Malta Numismatic Society.

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