New York, April 2, 2004 — A first edition Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law) with commentary by Moses Isserles, Cracow, 1578-80, (Lot 139) brought in $74,750 (against an estimate of $30,000-40,000) making it the top seller at Kestenbaum & Company’s sale of Hebrew Printed Books & Manuscripts from The Rare Book Room of the Jews’ College Library, London on March 30th. This Third Part of the Library which was offered completes a highly successful trilogy of sales which began with Parts I & II in December 2002 and December 2003.
Several Bibles found particular favor with buyers. A single volume of the exceedingly rare vellum issue of the Plantin Polyglot Bible, one of only thirteen complete sets which were printed on vellum, on personal commission from King Philip II of Spain, Antwerp, 1569-72, sold extremely well, reaching $54,050 against an estimate of $20,000-30,000 (Lot 51). Also bringing high prices were a Polyglot Bible, Hutter’s Hexaglot Old Testament and 12-language New Testament, Nuremburg, for Elias Hutter: 1599, which realized $24,150 (Lot 55) and a nine-volume Hebrew Bible printed in Paris, 1543-46, in a fine contemporary binding that attained $26,450 against an estimate of $15,000-18,000 (Lot 49).
Further highlights from the Book Section included the First Illustrated Amsterdam Passover Hagadah with commentary by Isaac Abrabanel and copperplate engravings, 1695, which sold for $23,000 (Lot 105) and a rare first edition of Bachayeh Ben Asher’s Kad Hakemach [philosophy and ethics] that was bought for $20,700 (Lot 40).
Highlights from the Manuscripts Section of the sale included a 14th century manuscript of one of the most important, classical early Biblical Commentaries by Levi Ben Gershom (Gersonides), Biur Sefer Daniel, Ezra, Divrei Hayamim which realized $46,000 (Lot 222); a French 18th century single leaf Shevithi on vellum, which sold for $21,850 (210); and a Kabbalistic scroll, rarely seen at auction, featuring a diagram of the arrangement of the spiritual cosmos, possibly German, 18th century, which garnered $17,250 (Lot 217).
Also of note was a complete unpublished literary manuscript of a prominent early American Jew, Isaac Gomez, Jr., New York, 1825. After spirited bidding, it sold for a high price of $34,500 against an estimate of $6,000-9,000 (Lot 12A).
Kestenbaum & Company’s forthcoming auction will be on June 29, 2004: Hebrew Printed Books, Manuscripts and Works of Ceremonial and Graphic Art From the Collection of Daniel M. Friedenberg, Greenwich, Conn.