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Auction Date: December 8, 2013

Lot 3400: Rare Documented "Great Chair" From the Person

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Rare Documented "Great Chair" From the Personal Collection of Nazi SS Chief Heinrich Himmler, as Designed by Brigadefuhrer Karl Wiligut, Runic Lore Expert to the Third Reich
Estimated Price: $35,000 - $65,000
Item Views 228 Bid Activity Average
Serial #Rare Documented ManufacturerNone ModelNone
TypeOther Gauge Catalog Page169
Barrel Finish Grip
Stock ClassOther RatingSee Condition
DescriptionEnding the war as one of the top men in Nazi Germany, when Heinrich Himmler was brought into the National Socialist fold by Ernst Rohm, SA Chief, in 1923 he did not cut a very impressive figure; an agronomy student whose military career was ended prematurely by the close of World War One and whose doctoral studies were ended by the post-Treaty of Versailles economic depression and hyperinflation, Himmler managed to get into the Party nearly at the ground floor, being one of the participants in Hitler's botched Beer Hall Putsch of the same year. Escaping prosecution due to lack of evidence, Himmler was able to use the post-Putsch disruption of the Party to climb the ranks, securing the Party office in Lower Bavaria from himself in 1924 and joining the SS in 1935. A mere bodyguard unit when founded, Himmler would be the chief driving force behind it's growth into the multi-armed monster it became during the Party's ascent. In addition to pushing for increases in power for the SS, both politically and in force of arms, Himmler would be one of the main forces behind the new "Germanic Mythology", attempting to frame his SS as exemplars of the hypothetical "Aryan Master Race" while embracing the myths and symbols of old, being responsible for the adoption of Nordic runes and other ancient icons for the SS in particular and the Party as a whole. To this end, he recruited Karl Maria Wiligut, aka Karl Maria Weisthor, an Imperial German military officer turned occultist, self-declared German king and institutionalized schizophrenic megalomaniac, who headed up a department in the SS's Race and Settlement Main Office and later served as a Brigadefuhrer on Himmler's personal staff. Wiligut was the man responsible for the repurposing of the Armanen Futhark, a runic set derived from the Younger Futhark at the start of the 20th century, into a series of icons for the SS, in particular the "sig" rune which served as the basis for the iconic "double lightning bolt" symbol of the SS, the configuration of the SS Honor Ring, and the design of this chair, one of a set of 4 crafted by master woodworkers of the Tyrol region for presentation to the SS Chief. Constructed from hardwood overall with a woven cord seat and measuring 63 1/2 inches tall, 29 1/2 inches deep and 33 inches wide, the front legs and the back of the chair show deeply carved oak leaf and acorn patterns as typically seen on embellished items from Germany during and before the War, with each side of the back showing a stacked set of four icons; the left shows the dual sig runes of the SS, the Nazi swastika (both self explanatory), the hagall rune ("falling hail" in the Younger Futhark, the mother rune in the Armanen Futhark, adopted by Wiligut as a symbol of unshakable faith in the SS), and the lebens rune ("man" in the Younger, "life" by Wiligut) at the bottom, while the right side starts with the double Sig runes, the "rod" rune ( a variant on the lebens rune, said to symbolize the ancient, inherited strength of the Aryans), a variant on the European lily (interpreted as a symbol of purity by some, and of the power of the will in creation by others), and the three-armed swastika, a variant on the ancient triskelion used as both a symbol of triple-entities and of mankind's energy and determination. The center of the back is marked with a raised carved "1938", with a pair of lower-case "h" flanking a symbolic representation of the "lebensbaum", the tree of life, a derivative of the Norse Yggdrasil or World Tree whose branches bared the weight of all worlds, with the upper reaches extending into heaven and the roots descending into the underworld itself, in this case rendered as a flowering plant with the blossom dominated by an elaborate, six-armed proto-Germanic "sonnerad" sunwheel and the base set upon an unbroken ring. The 1938 date on the chair is particularly relevant to Wiligut's SS career, for in November of that year Karl Wolff, Chief of Himmler's Personal Staff, came into contact with Wiligut's estranged wife and learned of his 3-year stint in a Salzburg mental asylum, resulting in the Nazi's number one rune expert being quietly retired by August of 1939. The twice-retired officer spent his remaining years moving about Germany, before passing away in Arolsen on January 3, 1946. Himmler attempted to escape to the West in the closing days of the war, after an attempt to negotiate behind Hitler's back with the Allies to secure a better deal than was laid out at the Yalta Conference resulted in him being stripped of rank and a demand for Admiral Doenitz to reinstate him fell on deaf ears, with the SS Chief killing himself on April 29, 1945 with a concealed cyanide pill after a ruse to pass himself off as a Heer nobody broke down under interrogation. The chairs were abandoned in Himmler's abode in Gmund am Tegernsee, where a tax sale put them into the market; at this time, it is believed that 2 remain in Germany (with the owners reportedly having resisted many purchase offers) and two have made it into the United States, with the first reported destroyed in a fire, making this one of only 3 extant and the only one available at open sale.

ConditionVery good overall. A few grain cracks are present in the back of the chair as well as on the right arm and back left leg; none of which pass through the wood entirely. The embellishment is deeply cut and professionally executed. A very scare piece of Third Reich memorabilia, unique on the market and one of less than a handful in existence.
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