October 27, 2004 — Kestenbaum & Company’s single-owner book sale, derived from the sophisticated Library of a discerning and knowledgeable collector, was an unqualified success. The select group of fifty-seven Important Early Hebrew Printed Books offered for auction on October 25th brought in more than $900,000. Every single lot was sold and the enthusiastic bidding yielded prices that went well over their pre-sale estimates. Many of the books had not been seen at auction for some years while others had never appeared at auction at all.
The top performer of the sale was Daniel Bomberg’s 1524 edition of Maimonides’ Rabbinic Code (Mishneh Torah). This especially handsome, wide margined copy sold for $74,750 against an estimate of $30,000-50,000. An exceptionally rare first edition of a Hagadah from Salonika, 1569, with commentary by Rabbi Moses Pesante and Rabbi Solomon Baruch was another highly desirable lot garnering $42,550, and more than doubling its pre-sale estimate top estimate of $20,000.
Additional buyer favorites included Daniel Bomberg’s exceptional copy of the Talmud Yerushalmi, Venice 1523--the first edition upon which all further editions are based--which reached $41,400 against an estimate of $25,000-30,000; an extremely rare first edition Midrash Chamesh Megiloth (aggadic compilation on the Five Scrolls) from Pesaro, 1519, which was bought for $41,400 against an estimate of $20,000-25,000; and a first edition of the celebrated Prayer Book Siddur Shela’h from Amsterdam, 1717, which sold for $40,250 sailing over its pre-auction estimate of $20,000-25,000.