Karl Goetz Meisterkabinett
I gave a talk to the Medal Collectors of America (MCA) over the weekend regarding my acquisition of Karl Goetz’ personal “Meisterkabinett” (Master’s Cabinet) from the Goetz family in Munich nearly fifteen years ago. Outside of my original posts from this site years ago, little has been shared to the open world.
The CU posts regarding this cabinet are 'diced and sliced' after ‘The Purge’ of this website sometime in the early teens. What remains of my original posts are scattered at best and no longer contain images.
I estimate 98% of the currently active membership here is new since those 2008 times so I thought I would once again share the images of my Goetz collection cabinet and description.
Two moot side-discussions,
1) The cabinet’s placement next to an old Cadet wall heater in the images. The heater was not wired up; I have since put in a mini-split heat pump for my collection cave; and the location was the only available interior wall. BTW, I’m not an idiot either.
2) Outgassing concerns from the wood construction are moot for a number of reasons; This wood is 100-225 years old...long past the time to worry about outgassing; If the cabinet was good enough for Karl’s storage use from 1905-1950 then it’s good enough for me; and finally, The contents of the cabinet are 95% bronze with heat applied patinas. Outgassing does not impair bronze with heat applied patinas.
Upon its arrival at Customs in Portland I delivered it to a furniture conservator for cleaning and any needed restoration prior to bringing it home. Conservator report is below the images.
Conservators letter report reads as thus:
“Wooden Cupboard of German Origin
Measurements: Height: 76 3/4 inches
Depth: 19 3/4 inches
Width: 40 1/2 inches
The wooden cupboard is in two pieces with 102 sliding trays; the lower case having two doors on a raised base and the upper case having two doors, with molded panels in a frame. The entire surface of the cupboard is a painted "Faux bois" finish with graining done in an imitation of highly figured walnut. This coating disguises the fact that both cabinets are constructed in pine wood and veneered with another wood. The applied moldings of the upper case are cherrywood.
The construction techniques used in both cases are of traditional 18th century mortise and tenon technique with dovetail joinery. The lower case has nails that are late 18th or early 19th century manufactured and appears to be original to its construction. The upper case has wooden pegs used to hold boards in place. The sliding trays were used to contain bronze art medallions and plaster casts. The flat surface of all the trays had been covered with different fabrics to cushion the art work. The trays had the dirty fabric removed and then vacuumed. The original fabric is to be returned to the owner.
In my estimation, the upper case is of 18th century German origin and the lower case of late 19th century origin. These two cases were paired together at that time and given the ‘faux bois’ graining in imitation of walnut.
Treatment of the cupboard consisted of examination for structural integrity which is intact and damage to the finish. The finish has sustained numerous scratches and abrasions resulting in some loss to the paint coat. Also, the case was quite dirty. As a result, the cupboard was cleaned and touched up the paint losses only in the most glaring places with removable paints. The cupboard was subsequently waxed and polished before personal delivery to the owner.”
My additional observations and alterations
The drawers are made from quarter-sawn oak and framed in cherry. When Goetz was using these, he had the drawers lined in a beige or green fabric. It has been sitting in humid conditions since at least the mid-80's, the material has become filthy and musty. I relined the drawers with archival cotton matting overlain with black velvet.
what an amazing cabinet... wow. And simply beyond words
Experience the World through Numismatics...it's more than you can imagine.
Was the talk recorded and available for viewing anywhere?
I would like to hear the story of how you came across the cabinet and the collection and what you did to get it to your home.
Wonderful history, glad you have it.
Yes it was recorded but I don't know when the post edited copy will be available. It occurred in a Zoom meeting and was primarily addressing how I approached collection storage from the beginning.
Florian Goetz, Karl's grandson, contacted me via my website. We struck up a friendship before any discussions ensued for purchasing any material from the family. There's more to the story but I'll leave it there for now. If more interest is shown for hearing more of the story I will post it.
My collection has been created over the past 20 years via mostly European auctions and a few US auctions. The 500+ medals from my collection rest on foundation materials I obtained from Karl's family. These materials contain unpublished early period works and concept drawings along with tools and all of Karl's personal documents. These are all unique, to say the least.
Regarding the cabinet transportation, I have a friend in Cologne that had business experience in freight transportation logistics. He set me up with a company in Munich, essentially a courier, that went to Florian's home basement, picked up the cabinet, then packed it and transported it to the airport. I think it flew on a commercial airline as high value air freight. I was notified when it would be available for pick up at the Customs clearance warehouse and I made sure I was prompt in picking it up. It was actually easier than buying a passenger international ticket, albeit a little more expensive
But... What... About... The... Secret... Cache...
One of the all time best stories from these forums, imo. Thank you for bringing us along on the journey back then. Hope all is well on your end.
8 Reales Madness Collection
I'd like to hear more of this story! Were there any medals in the cabinet when you bought it? Can you post a picture of the trays?
My current "Box of 20"
I remember you and the story of the acquisition quite well. I'm glad to see that you are still talking about the collection and that you have provided some images in the thread. I realize you have linked websites devoted to the man and his work, but is there any chance of a printed and illustrated book in the future? That would be cool.
In honor of the memory of Cpl. Michael E. Thompson
Okay, just for you
As I mentioned above, the cabinet arrived air freight to Portland Oregon from Munich. I anticipated its arrival by contacting an antique furniture conservator and scheduled the drop off of the cabinet while I was in Portland (I live a couple hundred miles to the east). I also had a buddy, Steve Pellegrini, wanting to tag along to see the unpacked cabinet.
I borrowed my brother's old beat up work truck.
The top component
The bottom component with conservator removing drawers (Pellegrini to the right)
Then the conservator said he was close to the bottom drawer and wanted me to watch in case he found anything
Lo and behold!!! He was correct when he said material is usually hidden or lost in furniture.
I'm just now getting around to dealing with these study models but also there are three or four new discoveries from Goetz too.
Happy now TwoKopeiki?
No medals, with the exception of the plaster study pieces, were included with this transaction.
I can post some quick down and dirty phone pix of some random tray contents as they sit now. The trays are 14" x 16" and some of the contents I have added size and weight to give you all an idea of what a brute this cabinet is.
Good enough Bob?
More than good enough! That is excellent, thank you!
My current "Box of 20"
Absolutely! What an amazing find!
8 Reales Madness Collection
TomB ! Good to see you again.
Well, as a matter of fact I am working with a German cohort on producing a new four volume reference set.
Volume I: Early Period 1875-1914, lots of new discoveries Kienast chose not to deal with.
Volume II: WWI and Revolution 1914-1922
Volume III: Occupation/Weimar Period 1923-1933
Volume IV: Hitler/WWII/Death 1933-1949
An entirely new numbering system based on year of production. Color images, history, Iconography, etc. etc. It will be produced i German editions and English editions.
At least that's the current plan. Health issues have set us back a couple of years but on the mend and ready to rumble.
Great news about the books/reference set! I remember watching your posts and being utterly fascinated by the process. Glad you are reposting now.
Despite 2 decades of trying, I’ve never managed to buy a copy of Kienast, nor the supplement. I was trying to get one from John Burns before he passed, but it never happened.
So I anxiously look forward to your new books on the subject.
Kienast gave me the copyrights to both books back in 2007 (?). I reprinted these in paperback and probably sold a seventy-five sets or so but then decided it was time to stop perpetuating the spread of deeply flawed content and an even more flawed numbering system. While Kienast did what he could at the time they were written, his primary focus was directed to the satirical series of WWI. Unfortunately, that has been most of the focus by everyone over the years. Kienast's information gathering path through Guido Goetz may not have been the most beneficial or truthful for his book content either.
I just came to the painful realization that this Goetz series will need one more volume added at the beginning to capture the biographic and historic content prior to him beginning work in 1904 Munich. There also needs to be an explanation for the dozens of materials removed from the Kienast volumes and why; adding newly discovered material (50+); a two-way concatenation table between old/new numbers; etc.,etc..
As I sit here marveling at "The Art of Coins" and "The Currency of Fame" I wonder how these tomes would have been published had they been dealing with the same number of art pieces Goetz produced. Since this book series will be reference set of Goetz' Œuvre-Katalog I can't just pick and choose what will be dealt with. Several hundred pieces in each volume and, only collectable material. I say this because Goetz made things that are not collectable, and that Kienast numbered originally, such as architectural and funerary items.
Back to work...