The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 18, Number 38, September 20, 2015, Article 11


A couple issues back we reported on the upcoming sale of a rare gold medal of the War of 1812 for General Alexander Macomb. Here's a post-sale report on the auction from Art Daily. -Editor

Prices soared at this singular auction of the contents of Hauteville Manor. All 1600 lots on the auction block on Friday 11 and Saturday 12 September went for a total of CHF 4,379,600, or more than four times the low estimate for the sale. Nearly 100% of the lots found a buyer in a room that remained crowded over the two sale days with bidders of all nationalities (Swiss, French, American, Italian, British, Chinese, and more). “These results exceeded all our expectations. They show how attached buyers are to items with a prestigious and historic provenance,” affirmed Bernard Piguet, CEO and head auctioneer of the Hôtel des Ventes auction house. “This outcome mirrors the success of the exhibition days at the manor that drew 10,850 visitors in just three days!” Philip Grand d’Hauteville, spokesman for all the heirs to the manor, added, “The Hôtel des Ventes of Geneva organized this event with the utmost professionalism.

"The heirs were quite impressed with the cultural and administrative competence shown by the Hôtel des Ventes. The relationship that the family had with Bernard Piguet, supported by his team of specialists, was a model of perfection. We are happy to know that our family’s belongings have found new, enthusiastic owners, especially in Switzerland and the United States. We are particularly delighted that several pieces rejoined collections in Swiss museums and will therefore be complementing donations that we have already made.”

American Buyers Contest the Spoils of their History
The Americana section on Saturday night included major historical souvenirs from the War of 1812 and the American Civil War (1861-1865). One hundred percent of the lots found an owner, for the sum of CHF 468,337 (estimate: CHF 80,000-100,000)!

Macomb medal reverse The air was electric as numerous bidders, mainly Swiss and American, battled by phone or in person for the medal of General Alexander Macomb, an ancestor of the Grands of Hauteville and hero of the Battle of Plattsburgh of 11 September 1814. The room broke into applause as a bidder in the manor’s orangerie, where the sale was held, made the winning bid. He acquired this unique item for CHF 231,000, which was more than 11 times its low estimate (lot 1052, estimated at CHF 20,000-30,000).

A new battle broke out a few minutes later for the Lone Star flag of the 5th infantry regiment of Texas, which included the Confederate Stars and Bars flag on the back. This one-of-a-kind item will soon return to American soil, as it was purchased by John Kraljevich, a specialist in historic American souvenirs from South Carolina, for the sum of CHF 56,000 (lot 1080, estimated at CHF 20,000-30,000).

The 10 military awards of General Macomb signed by Presidents Georges Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and John Quincy Adams also fetched high prices, selling for a total of CHF 46,700 (estimated at CHF 20,000-30,000).

Lone Star flag of the 5th infantry regiment of Texas

I didn't know John Kraljevich had an interest in flags. But I'm not surprised it's a damned historically important flag. He writes:

I like pretty much anything historical that I can add value to with some good, old-fashioned research, and this flag was the perfect case. Before the sale I found a reference to this precise flag in the letters of Robert Gould Shaw, the guy Matthew Broderick played in the movie Glory, relating that his friend Fred d'Hauteville, also of General Nathaniel Banks' staff, had received a "pretty Secessionist flag" from the famed spy Belle Boyd, the notorious "Siren of the Shenandoah." So this piece has an unbroken, documented provenance back to a teenaged vixen who was making the papers even in 1862 for daringly darting across battlefields, gathering intelligence from Union officers and reporting straight to the best known names of the Confederate officer corps.

The auction house has since amended their catalogue description after I told them the story so they could use it for their press outreach. I'm still not certain what I'll do with the flag, but it's one of the best Civil War flags extant. It is certainly the only one with a documented provenance to the Confederacy's most famous spy. It's been in the same hands since late June/early July 1862 and it remains exceptionally well preserved.

Needless to say, I would have loved to have bought the medal for a sensible price.

To read the complete article, see:
Hôtel des Ventes announces exceptional outcome at historic sale of contents of Hauteville Manor (

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
NOTES FROM E-SYLUM READERS: SEPTEMBER 13, 2015 : Macomb Medal Brings $238,000 (

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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