Kestenbaum & Company held an auction of Fine Judaica on December 13th which included the second and final part of a collection of Hebrew Printed Books consigned from the Library of a dedicated Bibliophile as well as books consigned from other sources. Offered in the sale were numerous selections of Americana, 16th-18th century Hebrew Bibles, Bindings, Hagadahs, Liturgies, Anglo and French Judaic books. Also presented were many works of historic interest offered in all price ranges.
Buyers were drawn to a beautifully composed Kabbalistic “Tree” or diagram of the arrangement of the spiritual cosmos, handwritten on a long parchment scroll by an unidentified female scribe around the year 1700. Estimated at $15,000-20,000, it ultimately sold for $44,840 after competitive bidding. Another eye-catching lot was a French, 16th century Hebrew Bible in a fine contemporary Grolier-style binding. In five volumes, this distinctive binding with gilt-tooled polished calf craftsmanship realized $23,600.
A highlight in the French-Judaica section was a work featuring three
Biblical books (Isaiah, Joel and Ruth) bound in one volume with
commentary by prominent French Hebraist Antoine Rodolphe Chevalier,
Paris, which brought in $25,960.
In the Hagadah section, buyers favored the first Hagadah printed in Eastern Europe, with commentary by Isaac Abrabanel, Bistrowitz, 1592, which was purchased for $15,340. The first Hagadah printed in London, 1770, was also noteworthy, garnering $8,850 against an estimate of $5,000-7,000.
Other notable lots included a complete collection of visually stunning plates of the Land of Israel by van de Velde, Paris, 1857, which reached $12,980 and a 16th century edition of the Kol Bo (Rabbinic law), Rimini, which realized $20,060 against an estimate of $10,000-15,000.
Additionally of interest was a fascinating pre-State of Israel Telephone Directory, the first such publication in British Mandate Palestine, in mint condition from 1935, which was purchased for $3,540; The Religious Ceremonies and Customs by Bernard Picart with engraved plates of Jewish ritual life--an invaluable pictorial record of Jewish life in 18th century Holland which sold for $1,416; and from the Americana section, a work by the celebrated American poet Emma Lazarus--Songs of a Semite: The Dance to Death and Other Poems, New York, 1882, which reached $1,298 against a pre-sale estimate of $600-800.