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The E-Sylum:  Volume 9, Number 24, June 11, 2006, Article 33

PELLEGRINI ON THE GOETZ MEDAL SALE IN KASSEL, GERMANY

Steve Pellegrini writes: "A few weeks ago the enormous Bottcher
collection of Karl Goetz medals was auctioned at the Ramada-Plaza
in Kassel, Germany. I think it is safe to say that this was the
largest auction ever devoted to one medallist. Harald Moller a
well-known dealer in German coins and medals prepared the auction
and its catalogues as well as acted as auctioneer for the 3-day
event.

Moller issued 3 catalogues for the separate auctions. The opening
auction was devoted to a large varied selection of general interest
German medals.

The last day was devoted to Herr Bottcher's extensive collection
of Kaiser Reich gold, modern talers and crowns and German colonial
coins. But it was the Goetz collection scheduled between these two
sales which drew the crowd - and rightly so.

Bottcher's collection of Goetz medals was almost complete. It may
well have been complete, the few medals missing may have been
pulled or cherrypicked in advance. One surprising absentee was
the iconic '5 Mai' Lusitania Sinking medal of 1915. But there
were no complaints. There was more than enough on offer for even
the most enthusiastic buyer.

For a collection this impressive the catalogue which accompanied
its sale was most unimpressive. The photos were not of the greatest
quality, although as I understand it they were not cheap. There
were no descriptions of the lots aside from Keinast number and
grade. It seemed obvious from the first that this catalogue would
serve Goetz collectors and dealers as checklist and pricelist for
some time to come.

A little more effort in producing a first rate catalogue would
not been out of place. Even a brief biographical intro of Goetz
or at least of the collector Bottcher who built the collection
would have been interesting. A numismatic essay placing Goetz the
medallist in context with his contemporaries would have even been
better.

I have to admit to being spoiled rotten by the boffo catalogues
that have accompanied Stack's serial auction of the J.J. Ford
collection. But although this catalogue is very mundane, as most
German auction catalogues are, I have no doubt that it is destined
to become an instant classic - at least with Goetz collectors like
myself. In fairness though, it only purports to be an auction
catalogue and so it is."

The prices of Goetz medals have risen dramatically over the past
4-5 years.  There are many more collectors interested in these medals
than ever before.

I believe some of the influx of new Goetz collectors has to do with
the advent of eBay. Its vast numismatic listings afford enormous
exposure of previously unfamiliar material to modern collectors.

Surely this is where many US collectors got their first exposure
to Goetz medals. I don't know one collector who wasn't stopped in
his tracks by his first glimpse of Goetz ' infamous 1920 'Black
Shame' medal. I know the first time I saw it my reaction was 'What
the Hell is that?' And what that is, is usually the beginning of
a new Goetz collector.

"It seems all things Goetz have become expensive. A signed and
annotated first edition of Gunther Keinast's 1968 book 'Medals
of Karl Goetz' brought $1,000+ in a recent George Kolbe auction."

"I have often heard that Karl Goetz was the most popular medallist
in Germany during his lifetime. And in the 56 years since his death
he has become the most collected medallist in the world. Both these
statements are probably true. Only if the second part of that
statement is true would a one-man auction of nearly 7,000 items
have been attempted, or been successful and profitable."

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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