November 2006--Kestenbaum & Company conducted a general auction of Fine Judaica on November 21st. Featured in the sale were Printed Books, Manuscripts, Autograph Letters , and Graphic and Ceremonial Art consigned from various owners. Of particular interest in the Graphic Art section was a collection of Yiddish Theater Posters, duplicates consigned by the American Jewish Historical Society of New York.
Highlighting the sale was a fine 18th century illuminated liturgical manuscript from the Collection of the Director-Emeritus of the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington DC. This miniature manuscript on vellum, measuring just 2-1/2 x 4 inches, evoked spirited bidding and ultimately realized $97,350 against a pre-auction estimate of $40,000-60,000.
A top performer in the book section was Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev’s book of Chassidism, Kedushath Levi, Slavita, 1798. This book, one of the fundamental expositions of classic Chassidic thought, achieved $53,100, more than doubling its pre-sale estimate of $15,000-20,000. Other books finding favor with buyers included the First Edition of the Shela”h Siddur, Amsterdam, 1717, which garnered $22,420, sailing over its pre-sale estimate of $5,000-7,000; and an attractive copy of the first illustrated Amsterdam Hagadah in an original binding, 1695, which was bought for $17,700 against its estimate of $10,000-15,000. Also noteworthy was a small Sephardic Prayer Book in an exceptional Italian silver binding, with its original case, Amsterdam, 1740, which earned $9,440.
Well received among the Autograph Letters was Joseph Dov Halevi Soloveitchik’s signed letter offering condolences to S.Ch. Kook upon the passing of his brother, Chief Rabbi Kook, Roxbury, Mass, 1935, which sold for $12,980 against an estimate of $4,000-6,000. Other documents of interest in the Manuscripts section were “Most Secret” Papers of British Mandatory Government concerning the proposed Partition of Palestine, Jerusalem, 1946-47, which was purchased for $21,000; the last Will and Testament of Professor Boris Schatz, Founder of the Bezalel School of Art, Jerusalem, 1930, which realized $9,440 against an estimate of $5,000-7,000; and a collection of twelve documents pertaining to the founding of the modern city of Tel Aviv which earned $7,080.
The collection of Yiddish Theater Posters was very popular with bidders and all of the lots offered commanded high prices. Best among them was group of twelve miscellaneous theater posters which attained $8,260 against a pre-sale estimate of $1,200-1,800. Rounding out the sale from the Ceremonial Art section was a 19th century silver havdalah compendium which was purchased for $4,425 against an estimate of $1,500-2,500.