History - Numismatics 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, «Artistic Medals and Antique Coins»
  • Collection M. Donebauer, «Bohemia»
  • 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
  • «The doublets of the Berlin coin cabinet»
  • Collection Dr. Killisch von Horn
  • Collection Alex
  • Collection Dr. Erbstein
  • Collection Horsky
  • Collection Graf Tolstoi
  • and many others besides


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 from Frankfurt» (1918)
  • Collection Dr. E. Bahrfeldt, «Coins of the German Middle Ages» (1921)
  • Collection A. Löbbecke, «Greek and Roman coins» (1926)
  • Collection Vogel, important general collection in four parts (from 1927)

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 with A. E. Cahn
  • Collection Archduke 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:

  • Antique coins in memory of DrJacob Hirsch 1957
  • Howard D. Gibbs thaler collection I + II, 1957 and 1958
  • Coins of the Hohenstaufen period in two parts, 1959 and 1960
  • Roman coins – ESR collection 1961
  • Collection Walter Niggeler 1965-1967 in collaboration 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, «Portuguese 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 from Zurich», auction 279, 1999
  • Collection Alexander Wild, «Coins and medals from Bern», auction 281, 1999
  • Collection K. Baumberger, «Gold coins from the Latin monetary union», auction 284, 2000
  • Collection L. R. Stack, «Monnaies Françaises», auction 293, 2002

2005 to present

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 the city’s coinage and medals», 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 collaboration with Künker
  • Collection «De la Tour» part 1: Middle Ages and modern period, auction 313, 2009
  • Collection «De la Tour» part 2: Antique 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
  • An important Collection of Lausanne Coins, Auction 328, 2015 
  • The famous Tensho Hishi Oban with a hammer of 1,1 Mio ! Auction 328, 2015
  • An important Collection of Classical Coins, Auction 329, 2015
  • The Gallia Collection of French Coins, Auction 331, 2016
  • A private Collection of Gold Coins of the Ottoman Empire, Auction 332, 2017
  • A Collection of Gold Coins of the Empire of Annam, Auction 332, 2017
  • The Galba Collection of Roman Coins, Auction 333, 2017
  • The Osaka Collection of Classical Coins, Auction 334, 2018
  • Swiss Coins from Breguet Collection, Auction 334, 2018
  • The de la Tour Collection of Coins of the Knights of St. John, Auction 334, 2018
  • Habsburger Coins from J.S. Moser Collection, Auction 334, 2018
  • An important Collection of Classical Coins, Auction 335, 2018
  • The Kurt Hainz Collection of Gold Coins, Auction 336, 2019
  • Collection Henri L. Manera – collection of silver coins from Switzerland and the World, Auction 337, 2019