Kestenbaum & Company conducted its early fall auction of Fine Judaica on September 18th and despite the turmoil of financial markets, the outcome showed that the numerous works on offer still proved to be safe investments. Featured in the auction were nearly 370 lots of Printed Books, Manuscripts, Illustrated Books, Postcards, and Graphic Art including Selections from the Rare Book-Room of a North American College Library.
The Hebrew Printed Books section of the sale yielded some strong results including the first Bomberg edition of the Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sukah, Venice, 1521, which achieved $41,820 against an estimate of $20,000-25,000 (lot 275), Elimelech of Lizhensk’s No’am Elimelech, a complete early edition of this Chassidic classic, Slavuta, 1794, which attained $24,600 (lot 84) and a first edition of Nissim Gerondi’s Book of Sermons, Constantinople, 1533, which sold for $20,910, sailing over its pre-auction estimate of $4,000-6,000 (lot 125).
Passover Hagadahs finding favor with buyers were Chukath ha-Pesach, a wide-margined copy of an exceptionally rare edition, Salonika, 1569, which garnered $31,980 (lot 128); and a very rare war-time Hagadah from Hay, New South Wales, produced under primitive conditions by German Jews held prisoner by the British in Australia under suspicion of being enemy-aliens, 1941, which was purchased for $15,990 against an estimate of $7,000-9,000 (lot 133).
Fine selections in the Americana section included an important and rare Constitution of Congregation Shearith Israel, New York, 1805, which brought in $27,060 against an estimate $5,000-7,000 (lot 14) and a Consecration Service Used at the Jew’s Synagogue, Nidchi Israel, Bridge Town, Barbadoes, 1833, which crossed the hammer at $15,990 against a pre-sale estimate of $7,000-9,000 (lot 20).
Among the Anglo-Judaica highlights, a standout was Aaron Mendoza’s unusual Dinim de Sehita y Bedica, London, 1733, with six hand-colored engraved plates, which sold for $11,070 against an estimate of $4,000-6,000 (lot 43).
Also of interest in the book section was a Kabbalistic work, Raziel Hamalach, Amsterdam, 1701 which garnered $4,920, more than doubling its pre-sale estimate of $1,200-1,800 (lot 168)
The star lot of the Manuscripts section of the sale was a 1750 edition of the Kabbalistic work, Eitz Chaim which reached $36,900 (lot 331), selling over 10 times its pre-auction estimate and reflecting the enormous interest in the manuscripts offered. Further notable manuscripts included a large 17th century Italian document on vellum, the Confirmation of Privileges of the Community by Duke Ferdinando, which reached $18,450 (lot 330), an unpublished work of Ma’amarim ve-Kavanatham, Spain, 15th century, which realized $6,765 (lot 343) and a Rabbinic Deposition, from Egypt, circa 1150, that fetched $4,674 (lot 326). Rounding out the section was an illuminated liturgical manuscript on vellum, Seder Keriath Shema, Netherlands, 18th century, which sold for $10,455, well over its estimate of $4,000-6,000 (lot 337).
Concluding the sale was a section of Graphic Arts. Highlights included a framed, colored lithograph, “Arriving of the Jewish Regiment in Palestine” with vignettes of Zionist leaders, American, 1918, which garnered $1,845 (lot 366) and the auction cover lot, Bernard Picart’s hand colored depiction of “The Dedication of the Portuguese Jews Sinagogue at Amsterdam” which brought in $1,476 against a pre-sale estimate of $600-$900 (lot 363).