Kestenbaum & Company’s April 3rd auction of Fine Judaica covered a broad spectrum of categories and interests. In addition to the many selections of Anglo-Judaica, Bibles, Hagadahs, Illustrated Books, Religious, Liturgical and Chassidic Texts, there were numerous works focusing on 20th century Jewish History including those relating to the Holocaust and the establishment of the State of Israel.
An exquisite 18th century manuscript of Sermons by Saul Halevi Morteira of Amsterdam was the top lot of the sale bringing in $36,580, more than doubling its pre-sale estimate of $10,000-15,000 [Lot 342]. Other best sellers from the Manuscripts section included an autograph letter by Joel Teitelbaum (the Grand Rabbi of Satmar) in 1948 to his nephew in Jerusalem which realized $10,030 against an estimate $4,000-6,000 [Lot 349] and two letters addressed to the Satmar Rebbe concerning his appointment as the Av Beth Din of the Eidah Ha Chareidith of Jerusalem in 1952, which was purchased for $11,800 [Lot 350].
Finding extreme favor with buyers among the Bible editions was a set of Pentateuch and Haphtaroth in six volumes with each title page printed on vellum, Amsterdam, 1726, which reached $33,040 after fierce bidding against an estimate of $3,000-5,000 [Lot 60], and a rare 1555 miniature Book of Psalms from Sabbioneta, which garnered $21,240 against an estimate of $12,000-18,000 [Lot 55]. Important religious texts were also well represented by a rare complete edition of Midrash Tehillim, Constantinople, which earned $18,880 [Lot 229]
From the many Hagadahs in the sale, highlights included an attractive copy of the famous 1712 Amsterdam Hagadah, which sold for $12,980 [Lot 122], a beautifully-designed Hagadah illustrated by Anglo-Jewish artist Albert Rutherston, London, 1930, which was bought for $9,440 [Lot 146], the Toulouse Hagadah, written from memory by inmates of detention camps in South-West France in 1941, which garnered $6,490 [Lot 147], and a special edition of the Hagadah prepared for Jews serving in the U.S. Army of Occupation, Munich, 1946, which brought in $7,080 [Lot 148].
Noteworthy Anglo-Judaica included the first Hebrew-English Prayer Book printed in London, 1770, which earned $7,080 [Lot 24], a book of reactionary literature by Arise Evans responding to Menasseh ben Israel, London, 1656, which achieved $7,670 [Lot 19], and a copy of a Parliamentary Act in 1858 that finally enabled Jews to take a seat in Parliament, which sold for $1,180 against an estimate of $600-800 [Lot 31].
Among a selection of books with signatures of important individuals, of note were the R. Nathan Adler of Frankfurt copy of the Passover Hagadah, Amsterdam, 1764, which realized $9,440 against an estimate of $3,000-5,000 [Lot 4] and Mordechai Banet’s copy of Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat, Homburg, 1742, which brought in $3,540 [Lot 48]. In the illustrated books category, Arthur Szyk’s The Temptation of Saint Anthony by Gustave Flaubert, Paris, 1926, achieved $2,950 [Lot 308].
Holocaust-related material was underscored by a complete set of the historic Shearith Hapleitah Shas (Talmud), published under the auspices of the U.S. Army soon after the Liberation of Europe from Nazi tyranny, 1948, which reached $5,900 [Lot 171]. Other notable lots included an attractive penned Kabbalistic manuscript by Moses Cordovero, San’a (Yemen), 1865, which reached $3,540 against an estimate of $1,500-2,000 [Lot 335], an autograph letter by the Chassidic Rebbe Shalom Halberstam, 1929 which garnered $5,015, [Lot 328] and a Yiddish Cook Book with colored illustrations, Vilna, 1938, that ultimately sold for $3,245 after extremely competitive bidding against a presale estimate of $100-$150 [Lot 90].
Standouts from the Graphic Art section of the sale, were a watercolor papercut Omer Calendar, Breslau, 1876, which was purchased for $11,800 [Lot 338] and a gouache by Mane-Katz: Young Boy with Torah Scroll, French, 20th century, which realized $10,620 [Lot 354].