Once again, buyers from around the globe vied competitively for the chance to acquire rare Hebrew Manuscripts when Kestenbaum & Company offered for auction-sale the second part of a singular consignment on behalf of the public authorities of the State of Israel. Tremendous interest and spirited bidding often drove hammer prices well beyond their catalogue estimates. The high prices achieved were expected considering the unique quality of the material on offer and the fact that a number of these medieval and pre-modern Hebraic manuscripts remain unpublished.
The first eighty-two lots of the auction were outstanding Hebrew manuscripts pertaining to Rabbinics, Kabbalah, Liturgy and Talmud, and were greeted with an enthusiastic response in the saleroom. The lot bringing in the highest price of the day was an early, Hebrew Bible fragment, Spain/Egypt(?), 11th-12th century, which sold for $65,000 against its pre-sale estimate of $30,000-50,000 (Lot 10).
Further strong examples included Aryeh Yehuda Leib Krochmal’s Drushim U’Pilpulim, which garnered $28,000 against a pre-sale estimate of $4,000-6,000 (Lot 45); Elijah ben Jacob Alfandari’s Michtav Me’Eliyahu, Constantinople, 17th-18th century, which realized $25,000 against an estimate of $10,000-15,000 (Lot 1) and Chaim Yosef Pinto’s Nishmath Kol Chai, Safed, early 19th century, which brought in $22,000 against a pre-auction estimate of $12,000-18,000 (Lot 61).
Also finding much favor with buyers was a copy of Simanei VeKitzurei HaMordechai, signed by the “Shach” which was purchased for $28,000 against its pre-sale estimate of $4,000-6,000 (Lot 70) and a volume from the Cracow edition of the Shulchan Aruch packed with contemporary scholarly marginal notes, which reached $16,000 (Lot 44).
Most prominent from other property offered in the sale was a fine illuminated Marriage Contract from Rome, 1757, which earned $60,000. Also significant was an original travel document issued by Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara, Kaunus, 1939-40 which hammered at its high estimate of $15,000 (Lot 222); and a group of four silver gelatin prints by Roman Vishniac, circa 1935, which realized $4,750 against it’s pre-sale estimate of $2,000-3,000 (Lot 310).
A final lot garnering much interest was a guitar that belonged to the celebrated singing Rabbi, Shlomo Carlebach. It sold at its mid-estimate, $11,000 (Lot 302).
Kestenbaum & Company’s next auction of Fine Judaica, entitled One Hundred Fifty Years of Jewish Art is scheduled for Wednesday, December 16th, featuring the original grisaille painting of Moritz Oppenheim’s “Friday Evening Blessing”, 1867, estimated at $300,000-500,000.
For further information please contact Jackie Insel at 212-366-1197 or Jackie@kestenbaum.net