June 29, 2006—Kestenbaum & Company’s June 20th auction of Fine Judaica featured Printed Books & Manuscripts including The Professor Abraham J. Karp Collection of Hebrew Manuscripts; Illustrated Books from the Library of Jacobo Furman, Santiago, Chile; and Books & Autograph Letters by several members of the Gratz Family, Philadelphia.
While the American-Judaica section of the sale did not perform as a group quite as well as in previous auctions, the top lot of the day was nonetheless in that category. A beautifully bound Hebrew Pentateuch printed in 1726 which belonged to Reverend Moses Mendes Seixas of Newport, Rhode Island, brought in $35,400. Thomas Moore’s New York Pocket Almanack, for the Year 1772 with an unrecorded view of New York locating the “Jew’s Synagogue” was also well-received in the American-Judaica section, realizing $10,620 against a pre-sale estimate of $6,000-8,000.
Further sale highlights were the Basle 1692 Hebrew Bible with all parts bound in one volume in a fine contemporary binding, which attained $15,340 against an estimate of $8,000-12,000; and the first prayer book printed in England, London, 1740, which achieved $7,670. against its pre-auction estimate of $5,000-7,000. A lovely binding--Seder Ha’tephiloth Mikol Ha’shanah in a beautiful Dutch, hand-colored vellum Hebrew binding, 1786, was also notable, reaching $14,160, well over its pre-sale estimate of $8,000-10,000.
In the manuscript section, noteworthy lots included a French Ketubah with beautiful floral motifs typical of French folk art, Bayonne, 1758, which sold for $11,800, and Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah, Yemen, 1598, which was bought for $9,440 against an estimate of $7,000-9,000. Other highly desirable lots were in the Liturgy section: Seder Pidyon ha-Ben, a most aesthetic manual for redeeming the firstborn, Dutch, circa 1800, which reached $8,260, more than doubling its pre-sale estimate of $3,000-4,000 and Sepher Seder Nashim [“A Book for Women”], which garnered $5,015, against its pre-auction estimate of $2,000-3,000.
A final lot that generated interest was Martin Engelbrecht’s Temple des Juifs, a rare Jewish “peep show” depicting Amsterdam’s resplendent Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, with the Congregation at prayer, Augsburg, circa 1740. It realized $4,130 against a pre-sale estimate of $2,000-3,000.