While little good ever comes of war, its outcome shapes the future for generations to come, both on the winning and losing sides of the battlefield. A panoramic overview of America’s wartime history, as defined by the memorabilia of its heroes, allies and most reviled enemies, will be the focal point of Milestone’s January 27, 2018 Historic Military & Firearms Auction.
The suburban Cleveland company will present 668 lots of extraordinary rarities, including Adolf Hitler’s personal desk and chair, a large and provocative Komar & Melamid painting titled Yalta Conference, and a uniform frock coat that belonged to a Civil War major general. Additional highlights include a 1936 Mercedes-Benz 170V two-door coupe that belonged to Nazi SA physician Dr. Rudolf Beuring, and over 150 premium-quality antique and vintage firearms, including several with historical provenance.
“We believe this will be our most successful auction ever. We’ve recently displayed some of our key auction items at major gun and militaria shows, and the reaction has been phenomenal. These types of personally owned items simply do not appear at auction, certainly not altogether in one auction,” said Chris Sammet, co-owner of Milestone Auctions. “Collectors of military memorabilia want provenance they can trust, and the provenance that backs this auction’s headliners is ironclad.”
Absolutely authentic and with a background that includes prior sale at the respected Hermann Historica auction house in Germany, a custom-crafted oak and leather desk and chair personally owned by Adolf Hitler is expected to make as much as $1,000,000 at auction. The furniture was given to Hitler in 1929, a gift from Mrs. Elsa Bruckmann (nee Princess Cantacuzene of Romania). The desk and chair were in use at Hitler’s Munich residence and later seized by the U.S. Army. The set is stamped US Property and United States Forces European Theater Headquarters, and comes to auction with the actual signed letter from the Royal Bavarian Court furniture maker Mobelfabrik M. Ballin, addressed to “Herrn Adolf Hitler.” Described in previous media reports as “Hitler’s million dollar desk,” its auction estimate is $100,000-$1 million.
Another auction lot that epitomizes the hedonistic Nazi regime’s penchant for luxury and excess is the 1936 Mercedes-Benz 170V two-door coupe that belonged to SA physician Dr. Rudolf Beuring. A scarce and drivable model, and one of only two of its type registered in the United States, this early-production 170V has been inspected by several qualified mechanics who noted that it contains many hard-to-find new parts. It is accompanied by a copy of its original bill of sale, as well as Beuring’s Nazi military profile with swastika stamps, and a copy of his evaluation prepared for Hitler. It has a transferrable Pennsylvania title and is estimated at $40,000-$80,000.
The auction presents an unusual opportunity to own a large and important satirical painting by Russian-born collaborative artists Komar and Melamid. Painted in 1982 and titled The Yalta Conference, the 72- by 50-inch oil-on-canvas depicts President Franklin D. Roosevelt – with an E.T.-like head – along with Hitler, and Stalin under a solid-red canopy. The artwork is a commentary on the 1945 meeting at Yalta where Stalin, Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill planned to establish Europe’s new boundaries after World War II. The message conveyed by the artists is that many felt Stalin tricked Roosevelt into allowing the Soviet Union to control the nations of eastern Europe. Although Hitler was not alive at the time of the Yalta Conference, he appears in the painting instead of Churchill, his finger raised in a silencing pose to represent the secrecy of the meeting. Roosevelt’s extraterrestrial head symbolizes the fact that he was not of the European world and therefore did not understand Stalin’s craft and underhandedness. A powerful painting widely regarded as Komar and Melamid’s finest, The Yalta Conference is featured in Carter Ratcliff’s 1988 book about the duo. An extensive narrative about the painting appears in the auction catalog description. Estimate: $800,000-$1.2 million.
The World War II section also includes a Nazi infantry battalion standarte captured by U.S. soldiers in 1945, est. $20,000-$30,000; and an outstanding archive of military clothing and paraphernalia belonging to a decorated Nazi German Luftwaffe pilot named Feldwebel Hans Hassemer. The extensive grouping, which was brought to the United States by Hassemer’s widow and son, includes his 4-button tropical tunic, trousers, Luftwaffe tropical belt and buckle, pilot’s badge, medals, goggles, compass, flight scarf, wartime photo album, and many other flight-related items. Est. $15,000-$20,000.
A fine selection of more than 150 firearms includes the 19th century Smith & Wesson handguns of whaling captain Albert Sherman (1849-1914), CSA General John Creed Moore's 1851 Colt revolver, and John Wayne's silver-grip Smith & Wesson revolvers, holsters and spurs. There are also many Winchester rifles, a Colt boxed King Cobra, 1911 Colts and SA Colts, 1877 and 1862 Gatling guns, Brownings, Remingtons, Mauers, and much more. Edged weapons include 19th century swords, Tanto daggers, Imperial German swords, an Ames Model 1871 USN Sword, and German hunting swords.
The Civil War portion of the sale features two medical staff swords, a surgical set and hospital register; a Hernstein cased surgical amputation set, desirable rifles, tintypes and ambrotypes of soldiers; Confederate General William L. Cabell’s telescope, a rare medical officer’s green sash, and a Union Army major general’s frock coat with straps, estimated at $9,000-$11,000.
World War I items include possibly the largest collection of uniforms from The Great War ever to reach the auction marketplace. In addition to USMC dress blues, there are uniforms for the Postal Express, an Air Service photographer, medic, military police, 13th Engineers, and 6th and 4th Machine Gun Divisions.
Milestone’s Saturday, January 27, 2018 auction of historic militaria and firearms will begin at 10 AM ET, with all forms of bidding available, including live online. The address is 3860 Ben Hur Avenue, Unit 8, Willoughby, OH 44094. For additional information, call (440) 527-8060 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, and online at www.milestoneauctions.com or http://www.liveauctioneers.com.