Auctioneers of Rare Books, Manuscripts and Fine Art

Auction 1 - November 16th 1996

Fine Judaica: Books, Manuscripts and Works of Art
The Property of Various Owners Includes:
Moses Maimonides, The Mishnah Torah, Manuscript on Vellum with the Earliest Version Extant of Supplementary Notes “Hagahoth Maimoniyoth” France, circa 1350
A Fine Collection of E.M. Lilien Engravings
The Property of a Connoisseur of the Arts, Acquired from the Artist’s Family
A Scintillating Selection of Early Texts and Uncommon Objects d’Art

A Russian immigrant recently arrived in the United States carrying a Hebrew Manuscript that sold for $127,000 at Auction, conducted by Kestenbaum & Company of New York City.

The 14th-century Manuscript consisted of one volume of the Mishneh Torah, the Great Code of Jewish Law written by the Jewish philosopher and physician, Moses Maimonides.

The immigrant’s grandmother had hidden the Manuscript for many years, where it survived both Nazi onslaught and Communist control of Russia. Unaware of its historical significance or monetary value, she gave the Manuscript to her granddaughter to take to the United States, with the hope that there, more might be discovered concerning its content.

A Professor of Jewish Studies was consulted, who instructed the owner to contact Kestenbaum & Company. After considerable research, Kestenbaum alerted the owner to the tremendous scholarly value of the text.

In addition to being one of the oldest Manuscripts of an important guide to Jewish life, it contains the earliest text of glosses, or notes, by Rabbi Meir Hakohen of Rothenburg, a leading 13th-century Rabbinic scholar. Previous owners of the Manuscript included Mattathias of Treves, Chief Rabbi of Paris appointed by King Charles V in 1363, an 18th-century Karaite and the consignors’ great-grandfather, Yitzhak Hopstein, an historian and bibliophile from Simferopol, Crimea.

The Manuscript was just one of more than 500 lots of Judaica that went under the hammer at the latest Kestenbaum & Company Auction.


14th century manuscript by Maimonides, the Earliest Manuscript extant with Hagahoth Maimoniyoth, sold for $127,000
14th century manuscript by Maimonides, the Earliest Manuscript extant with Hagahoth Maimoniyoth,
sold for $127,000