Kestenbaum & Company’s September 10th auction of Fine Judaica yielded very respectable results considering the sluggish state of the economy. Of the 321 lots offered, 90% sold, thereby affirming that Judaica remains a very active market of committed collectors. Nonetheless, clients were somewhat conservative with their bidding practices, thus reflecting differing prices relative to previous auctions.
The majority of the sale featured Duplicates from the Rare Book Room of The YIVO Library, New York, along with the second part of the Library of the Late Dr. Max Kimche of Zurich. Also on the block was a good selection of Manuscripts, Illustrated Books and Graphic Art.
The top lot of the sale was an incomplete copy of the first printed edition of the Mishnah with commentary by Maimonides, Naples, 1492, which realized $52,890 against its pre-auction estimate of $30,000-40,000 (lot 231). Another incunable, Solomon Ibn Gabirol’s Mivchar HaPeninim, Soncino, 1484, attained $19,065, slightly over its estimate of $12,000-18,000 (lot 154).
Buyers were drawn to the many Early Printed Rabbinic Books offered for sale. A portion of the Mishnah, Seder Zera’im bound with Seder Kodashim, Venice, 1522 and 1528 garnered $28,290, almost triple its pre-sale estimate of $8,000-10,000 (lot 233); a scarce printed Bible by Daniel Bomberg, Chamishah Chumshei Torah, Venice, 1521, brought in $24,600 more than three times its estimate of $6,000-9,000 (lot 57); and Shimon bar Yochai’s seminal mystical work, Sepher HaZohar, Cremona, 1559-1560, was purchased for $15,990 (lot 261).
Other early books of note included Panim Chadashoth signed by the Rabbinic scholar par excellence Yair Chaim Bacharach, Venice, 1651, which brought in $3,383, sailing over its estimate of $500-700 (lot 43); Abraham Klausner’s Book of Ceremonies, Riva di Trento, 1559, which earned $7,995 against an estimate of $4,000-6,000 (lot 75); and Abraham Zacuto’s Sepher Yuchasin, Cracow, 1580-1, which reached $2,337 against a pre-auction estimate of $800-1,200 (lot 279).
Among editions of the Bomberg Talmud offered in this auction, Masechta Eduyoth, 1521, sold for $5,535 (lot 266); Masechta Temurah, 1522, achieved $4,920 (lot 267); Masechta Eruvin, 1522, fetched $9,840 (lot 268); Masechta Nazir, 1522, realized $7,380 (lot 269) and Masechta Bechoroth, 1522, was bought for $6,765 (lot 270).
Highlights of Passover Hagadahs offered included two Holocaust-related Hagadahs which paralleled the suffering endured in Egypt to the misery inflicted upon the Jews by the Nazis: Yosef Dov Sheinson’s Musaph LeHagadah shel Pesach, Munich, 1946, earned $7,380 against an estimate of $3,000-5,000 (lot 137) and Hagadah shel Pesach – She’erith HaPleitah Be’Landsberg, 1946, reached $5,843 against an estimate of $2,000-3,000 (lot 134).
Also of interest was Tobias Cohn’s Ma’aseh Tuviah (the celebrated encyclopedia of medical and natural sciences), Venice, 1707-1708, which sold for $4,305 (lot 86) and a charming miniature Bible, published in Chicago before 1912, (the very smallest Hebrew miniature book printed) which garnered $3,998 against an estimate of $1,200-1,500 (lot 229).
Notable in the Manuscripts section of the sale was an illustrated Marriage Contract of a member of the Amzalak Family, Lisbon, 1860. It brought in $4,305 against its pre-sale estimate of $2,000-3,000 (lot 305).
Rounding out the sale in the Graphic Art section was a large map of the Holy Land by Jan Janssonius. It was purchased for $5,535 (lot 315).
Kestenbaum & Company’s next auction of Fine Judaica is scheduled for Thursday, December 10, 2009. The sale will feature Hebrew Printed Books, Manuscripts, Graphic and Ceremonial Art including the third and final portion of the Library of the Late Dr. Max Kimche of Zurich.
For further information please contact Jackie Insel at 212-366-1197.