Six months ago Kestenbaum & Company conducted its first auction exclusively devoted to Judaic Ceremonial Art. This was the exceptional collection of objects consigned by the Jewish Historical Society of England. Encouraged by the tremendous response received, the company focused its June 20th Fine Judaica auction on Judaic ceremonial and related objects as well as a variety of Jewish fine and folk art.
The 257-lot auction appealed to a broad cross-section of buyers with many collecting categories represented in a wide range of price points. Among the silver Ceremonial Objects, bidders found favor with many of the Spice Towers. A Ukranian/Polish silver spice tower, c. 1820, brought in $15,000 against a pre-sale estimate of $6,000-8,000 (Lot 12); a tall 18th century German silver filigree spice tower, sold for $15,000 (Lot 14); and an 18th century Austrian silver-gilt spice container, estimated at $6,000-8,000, garnered $10,500 after competitive bidding (Lot 15).
Further silver highlights included a Galician silver-gilt Kiddush goblet, early 18th century, which earned $10,000, an Austrian silver Megillah-case, Graz, c. 1780, which attained $8,500 (Lot 80) and a silver-gilt Ilya Schor pendant/brooch, which was purchased for $4,300 (Lot 152). A rare, finely engraved, Estonian silver Torah shield was another auction highlight, realizing $26,000 (Lot 108).
Standouts within the section of Chanukah Lamps included a sofa-style German silver menorah, 18th century, which reached $12,000 (Lot 43) and a German silver menorah, c. 1800, consigned by the Jewish Historical Society of England, which garnered $5,000 (Lot 42). Another Chanukah-related item of note was a Ludwig Wolpert silver dreidel which reached $950, topping its pre-auction estimate of $700-900 (Lot 60).
A section of objects from the Bezalel School of Art included an important Boris Schatz ivory plaque in its original brass frame, Jerusalem, c. 1906, which sold for $16,000 (Lot 131). Also evoking enthusiastic bidding was a Bezalel decorated brass shell-case vase. Estimated at $700-1,000, it ultimately fetched $2,200 (Lot 137).
Within the Works of Art section of the auction were a number of Marriage Contracts (Ketuboth) that performed strongly. Of particular significance was the earliest recorded Kethubah from Hebron, 1870, which elicited spirited bidding and hammered down at $19,000 (Lot 171). Another Kethubah of note was an attractive Marriage Contract from Rome, 1817, which attained $7,500 (Lot 169).
The sale also included a dozen fine engravings by Ephraim Moses Lilien, each handsomely framed, which the consignor purchased directly from the artist’s sister in the 1950’s. Two works particularly favored by bidders and exceeding their pre-sale estimates included an etching of Yemenite Scholars, 1915, which earned $3,200 (Lot 211) and an etching of an Elderly Jew, which achieved $2,600 (Lot 216). A highlight among the many paintings offered for sale was Laijos Koloszvary’s work in oil titled, The Chess Players. The painting brought in $10,000 (Lot 192). Among portfolios and artbooks, a complete set of sixteen color plates by Isidor Kaufmann, Vienna, 1925, brought in $2,500 (Lot 221).
The Graphic Arts section also drew in buyers with a section of Holocaust and World War II-related material. Of note was a poster in Polish commemorating the Third Anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto which sold for $2,500 (Lot 225), a Nazi propaganda poster from Munich, 1942, realized $4,250 (Lot 233) and a poster issued by the Central Historical Commission of Liberated Jews, Munich, c. 1945, which earned $1,800 (Lot 227). Also important was a suite of 40 paintings by the Polish artist Jozef Kaliszan entitled, The Warsaw Ghetto, produced in Poznan in 1966, which was purchased for $11,000 (Lot 234).
Kestenbaum & Company’s forthcoming auction of Fine Judaica: Printed Books, Manuscripts, Autograph Letters, Ceremonial Objects and Graphic Art will be held Fall, 2013.
For further information, please contact Jackie Insel at 212-366-1197.