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Auction Date: April 30, 2016

Lot 1559: Historic Amber Covered and Silver Furnished P

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Historic Amber Covered and Silver Furnished Presentation Copy of Mein Kampf, Calligraphy Inscribed as a Personal Gift to SS-General Karl Wolff, Heinrich Himmler's Right Hand Man and Supreme SS & Police Leader in Italy
Estimated Price: $35,000 - $65,000
Item Views 264 Bid Activity Average
Serial #Historic Amber Covered and Silver Furnished P ManufacturerNone ModelNone
TypeOther Gauge Catalog Page302
Barrel Finish Grip
Stock ClassOther RatingSee Condition
DescriptionKnown by many names and created by the fossilization of tree resin, amber, (or "Bernstein" in Low German), has been connected to the low countries and the German people for centuries; in written Roman accounts, records of the Germanic amber trade predate the actual word "Germania", and the shoreline west of Koenigsberg (renamed Kalingrad following World War II) is still one of the key sources of amber on the modern market. Normally found in relatively small pieces, large works in amber are traditionally assembled "jigsaw" style from multiple panels, with both the shape and the color of the individual pieces being taken into account to produce the desired effect. Measuring 5 7/8 inch wide, 8 1/2 inches tall and approximately 3/8 of an inch thick, the cover plate of this book is assembled from 45 individual rectangular pieces of bright orange Baltic amber set into a silver finished brass frame with a lightly beveled edge, a silver rivet in each corner, a raised silver Nazi Eagle in the center and the title lettering "Adolf Hitler/Mein Kampf" above and below, with a hand-repoussed swastika on the brass cover latch. A set of "825" purity stamps are present on the bar beneath "Hitler", the lower arm of the swastika, and the bottom of the "f" in "Kampf". The rest of the exterior binding is tan leather, with a set of four small rivets on the rear cover. A tiny metal plaque inside the rear cover bears the makers mark of the North German Amber Industry firm Naujoks, Mann & Gedenk of Konigsberg and the first page bears a hand-calligraphed presentation marking, identifying the book as a memento given by the head of the League of German Crafts to then-Gruppenfuehrer Karl Wolff of the SS on occasion of his attendance of the "Day of German Crafts" in 1937. A veteran of the Imperial Army in World War I and the Weimar-era Freikorps, Wolff was a banker and public relations man by trade, joining the Nazi Party in 1931 as a part-timer. Going full-time with the Party after the rise to power, he was tapped by SS Chief Heinrich Himmler to be his adjutant and chief of his staff office, which would lead to him being one of Himmler's favorites, rapidly promoted and with great knowledge of SS activities. In addition to reading virtually all correspondence of the high-ranking members of the SS, Wolff was also present with Himmler when he witnessed a 20-victim mass gunshot execution in Minsk in 1941, an incident that reportedly influenced Himmler's decision to use poison gas as the tool of choice for future mass murders. This favored status ended in 1943, as a result of Wolff being laid up in bed and unable to perform his duties and as payback for going over Himmler's head to Hitler to get permission to divorce his wife and legally hook up with his mistress. Reassigned to Italy to be Benito Mussolini's adjutant, the degenerating situation in-country led to him becoming the Supreme SS & Police Leader of the region, and later the acting German commander in Northern Italy. In 1945, Wolff initiated Operation Sunrise, a plot to engage the Western Allies in secret negotiations to end the war in Italy, with Wolff not bothering to talk to the bosses in Berlin and American representative Allen Dulles not bothering to ask how the Soviets felt about the whole thing. These negotiations led to the surrender of German forces in Italy on May 2nd, ending the war on that front nearly a week before Victory in Europe Day and fouling up acting-Fuehrer Admiral Karl Doenitz's plan to run the German surrender in stages and give his men more time to flee to the West. Dropping the dime on his fellow Party members during the Nuremberg Trials, Wolff got a sharply reduced sentence for his role in the whole mess, serving a grand total of 11 years in prison for his crimes. Though an eyewitness to virtually everything the SS was up to until 1943, Wolff's accounts are taken with a heavy grain of salt, as he claimed to have foiled an attempted abduction of the Pope by the SS during his time in Italy, claimed no knowledge of the Holocaust in spite of photographic evidence that he toured the camps with Himmler, certified the "Hitler Diaries" as legitimate, and other failures in judgement and accuracy. Wolff died in a hospital bed in July of 1984, a free man at a ripe old age, in essence having come as close as any ranking member of the SS ever came to well and truly "getting away with it". The remainder of the book is essentially no different than any other copy of Hitler's noted manifesto, with deep brown edges and crisply printed text. Included with the book is a cloth covered and leatherette trimmed protective sleeve.

ConditionVery fine overall. A few tiny chips are visible on the right edge of the cover, and the internal fabric lining shows some light edge fraying, otherwise the book and cover are in excellent condition, with some light wear on the high points and edges. Standing as one of the few cases where you really should judge a book by it's cover, this is a top shelf example of the German amber craft with a direct connection to a pivotal figure in the War in Europe.
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