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Guernsey’s to sell legendary poster collection Jan. 18-20

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Written by Auction House PR   
Friday, 28 December 2012 11:24

‘Peter Pathe : Maria Hagen,’ Walter Schnackenberg. Guernsey’s image.

NEW YORK – Guernsey’s will conduct the first of three auctions Jan. 18-20 to sell the stunning Dr. Hans Sachs Poster Collection. will provide Internet live bidding.

The Sachs collection is universally described as being the most significant collection of its type in existence. Descriptions that have appeared in the press include “the greatest prewar collection of posters,” and “thousands of the rarest posters.” One need only search for Sachs’ name on the Internet to find hundreds of references to the compelling story behind this unrivaled collection.

The auction, which is unreserved, will be take place at the Bohemian National Hall on E. 73rd St. in New York City. Those unable to attend this landmark event can participate online at where images and descriptions of the 1,233 posters being sold at this event are already pictured and described. A second and third auction of equal numbers of posters from the collection will be sold later in 2013.

Guernsey’s has just completed a comprehensive auction catalog depicting all the posters that are being sold in the first auction. Additional catalogs will be produced for the follow-up auctions resulting in a boxed set of three handsome books. The first catalog – available from Guernsey’s – contains the complete text of the unpublished autobiography of Dr. Sachs including the thrill of assembling his collection and the anguish when losing it to the Nazi

In the last years of the 19th century, a young German Jewish student, fascinated by the strong graphics applied in promotional posters, began a quest to collect. Thus began what is internationally regarded as the first recognized poster collection the world was yet to see. As the student graduated into the world of dentistry, so did his collection grow. Among the many categories of posters the young Sachs sought out covered the worlds of art, propaganda and politics, entertainment (from cabarets and dining to opera and early film), travel, sports, consumer products (from cigarettes to the first automobiles) to scenes of wa

With a keen eye for the very finest creations, Sachs acquired posters by such noted artists as Mucha, Steinlen, Cassandre, Cheret, Bernhard, Edel, Gipkens, Klinger, Carlu, Schnackenberg, Dufau, Grasset, Fennecker, Hohlwein, Kainer, Pechstein, Scheurich, Biro, Leyendecker, Christy, Flagg and many more. In time, his interest was so great that he organized the first poster collecting society and, in 1911, followed that by publishing Das Plakat (The Poster), an international magazine which quickly developed a devoted following. All the while, his collection grew.

By 1938, under the direction of Josef Goebbels, the Gestapo seized the collection, placing Sachs in a concentration camp. Although, with the help of family and friends, Sachs was able to gain his release from the camp, he never saw nor heard of his collection again. Just before the outbreak of World War II, almost penniless, Sachs escaped Germany and led his family to the United States. In time, he came to believe that his beloved collection was destroyed at the hands of the Nazis.

In 1960, the German government, recognizing the need to provide Sachs some restitution, offered him a relatively small amount for his loss. Without any other option, he accepted the offer. Sachs died a decade later. Following a long career as an airline pilot, Sachs’ son retired several years ago. While in retirement, Sachs’ son had time to search evidence from the past and discovered, amazingly, that his father’s poster collection, long thought lost to history, indeed existed in the vaults of a German national museum, located in what was once East Berlin.

The Sachs family’s efforts to retrieve their collection from the museum failed, leading to a well-documented legal battle. With the assistance of both German and American law firms, the collection became the focus of a case that rose through the German court system, eventually debated in the nation’s highest court. All the while, the epic case became the subject of countless news reports appearing throughout the global media.

In the end, the Sachs family was granted approval to recover the collection. Today, the nearly 5,000 posters in the collection constitute what knowledgeable experts view as the finest collection of its type. Indeed, many of the posters are believed to be the sole surviving example of those particular images.

Approximately two-thirds of the collection is of German posters; the balance being French, English, Italian, Austrian, Hungarian, Scandinavian, American and assorted other nationalities. Most importantly, it is clear that Hans Sachs exercised great judgment by selecting artistically thrilling images for his collection.

From both an artistic and historic perspective, Guernsey’s feels distinctly honored to have been chosen to represent the extraordinary Dr. Hans Sachs Poster Collection. To order the auction catalogue and for additional information about the collection and the coming auction, contact Guernsey’s, 108 E. 73rd St., New York, NY 10021, phone 212-794-2280 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Internet bidding will be provided by

View the fully illustrated catalog and register to bid absentee or live via the Internet as the sale is taking place by logging on to


‘Peter Pathe : Maria Hagen,’ Walter Schnackenberg. Guernsey’s image. 

 Secession: XXIII.’ Ausstellung, Leopold Stolba. Guernsey’s image.

 ‘Regata : Tentoonstelling,’ Raoul Hynckes. Guernsey’s image.

 ‘Compagnie Française des Chocolats,’ Théophile Alexandre Steinlen. Guernsey’s image.

‘Läderlappen,’ Walter Schnackenberg. Guernsey’s image. 

 ‘Champagne Ruinart,’ Alphonse Mucha. Guernsey’s image.

‘Winterhilfswerk des Deutschen,’ Ludwig Hohlwein. Guernsey’s image. 



Last Updated on Friday, 28 December 2012 12:05

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