Numismatic with passion and tradition
On February 1st 1871, Adolph Hess published the first booklet of the «Autographierte Numismatische Correspondenz», which was also his first fixed price list. His first auction contained more than 4000 lot numbers already.
Adolph Hess possessed the rare talent of combining knowledge, passion and commercial skills. He catalogued and successfully auctioned many large and important collections that were entrusted to him. Even today, some of these old auction catalogues still are important reference works:
- Collection Montenuvo
- Collection H. G. Gutekunst, «Kunstmedaillen und antike Münzen»
- Collection M. Donebauer, «Böhmen»
- Collection Reimann
These 19th century sales were the foundations of the 20th and 21st Century success of the Adolph Hess company.
Erich Cahn once said: «With an average of 2 annual sales, Adolph Hess for decades became the leading company in German coin trade as far as quality and quantity were concerned.»
In 1894, Adolph Hess sold his company to Louis Hamburger and his son-in-law James Belmonte, who continued the story of success as Adolph Hess Nachfolger. Many important and well-known collections were auctioned over the years:
- Collection Farina
- Collection Dr. Friedrich
- Collection Meyer-Gedanensis
- Collection Isenbeck
- «Die Dubletten des Münzkabinetts Berlin» (duplicates of the coin cabinet Berlin
- Collection Dr. Killisch von Horn
- Collection Alex
- Collection Dr. Erbstein
- Collection Horsky
- Collection Graf Tolstoi
- and many more.
In 1910, Dr Hermann Feith, a well-known expert on ancient coins joined the company. Dr Feith made the company one of the leading auction houses for classical coins. Auctioning the important collection of Dr M. Weygand in 1917, he also led the company through the troubled times of the World War I. After the end of the war, the golden age of Frankfurt coin trade started with Adolph Hess Nachfolger auctioning the following famous collections:
- Collection Finger-Rumpf, Coins of Frankfurt (1918)
- Collection Dr E. Bahrfeldt, Medieval German coins (1921)
- Collection A. Löbbecke, Greek and Roman coins (1926)
- Collection Vogel, Important Universal collection in four parts (from 1927 onwards)
1927 – 1940
In 1927, Dr Busso Peus joined the company as an expert for medieval and modern coins from Germany.
Two years later, Hermann Rosenberg, son of the numismatist Sally Rosenberg, joined Adolph Hess Nachfolger. The atmosphere within the company remained intact, but the political climate within Germany was changing and quickly became alarming.
In 1931, Dr Feith, foreseeing the Nazi terror and drawing the consequences, founded a company in Switzerland, appointing Hermann Rosenberg as director of the Adolph Hess AG Luzern. The business segments were split, with Luzern focussing on ancient and European coinage.
The company in Frankfurt, led by Dr Busso Peus and whose name it had to take over in 1940 due to the "Aryanization" laws, concentrated on German coins. This is when the history of the Adolph Hess company ended on German soil.
In Switzerland, however, the Adolph Hess AG Luzern flourished under the guidance of Hermann Rosenberg. He cooperated with the Viennese art gallery Gillhofer & Ranschburg until the "Anschluss" of Austria to the Third Reich. Despite the adverse conditions at the time, the Adolph Hess AG managed to conduct several important auctions:
- Collection Dr E. J. Haeberlin, Coins of the Roman Republic, 1933 mit A. E. Cahn
- Collection Erzherzog Sigismund
- Collection Otto
- Collection E. A. Sydenham
- Collection Trau
1954 – 1970
Hermann Rosenberg led the company during the 2nd World War, and started a new successful era in 1954 when the numismatic section of Bank Leu, led by Leo Mildenberg, and the Adolph Hess AG launched a long-time cooperation with many important sales:
- Ancient coins in memory of Dr Jacob Hirsch 1957
- Collection of Talers by Howard D. Gibbs I + II, 1957 and 1958
- Coins of the Hohenstaufers in 2 two parts 1959 and 1960
- Roman Coins – Collection ESR 1961
- Collection Walter Niggeler 1965-1967, in cooperation with Münzen & Medaillen AG, Basel
These sales set new numismatic standards and made Leu and Adolph Hess world market leaders in classical numismatics. Unfortunately, the tragic death of Hermann Rosenberg in 1970 could not adequatly be substituted.
1989 – 2005
It was only in 1989, when H. J. Schramm acquired the Adolph Hess AG, that regular floor auctions were restarted with five important sales.
In 1995, Jean Paul Divo joined the company and regular sales were continued by the newly-founded Hess-Divo AG. This new constellation became very successful in offering important collections for sale such as:
- Collection Azalea, «Monete di Savoia», Auction 265, 1995
- Collection M. Romanones, «Potuguese India & Mozambique», Auction 269, 1996
- Collection Kunio Koma, «Modern World Crowns», Auction 275, 1998
- Collection Leonidas C. Hermes, «Modern Greek Coins», Auction 273, 1998
- «100 Rarities», Auction 278, 1999
- Collection Hegibach, Coins and Medals of Zurich; Auction 279, 1999
- Collection Alexander Wild, Coins and Medals of Bern, Auction 281, 1999
- Collection K. Baumberger, Gold coins of the Latin Monetary Union, Auction 284, 2000
- Collection L. R. Stack, «Monnaies Francaises», Auction 293, 2002
In 2005 Ulf Maria Künker from Osnabrück took over management, re-adding the traditon-rich segment of ancient coins to the company. Among the recent sales, most notably are:
- Collection Nürnberg, An important private collection, Auction 301, 2005
- Collection Nürnberg, 700 years of Coins and Medals of the city, Auction 303, 2005
- Collection Sekine, Russian Coins and Banknotes, Auction 306, 2007
- The P. A. Collection of Ancient Coins, Auction 307, 2007
- The numismatic library of A. Wild, Auction 312, 2008 in Kooperation mit Künker
- Collection «De la Tour» part 1: Medieval and Modern coins, Auction 313, 2009
- Collection «De la Tour» part 2: Ancient coins, Auction 314, 2009
- Collection L. R. Stack, «Italian Renaissance Coins», Auction 315, 2009
- The numismatic library of F. Sternberg, Auction 316, 2009, in cooperation with Künker
- Collection F. Wasserman, «European Rulers in Gold from Alexander the Great to Queen Victoria», Auction 322, 2012, in cooperation with Künker
- Collection L. Herold, «The Roman Portrait», Auction 324, 2013