Kestenbaum & Company conducted an auction of Fine Judaica on Thursday, December 8th. The sale included an extensive selection of Printed Books, Manuscripts, Autograph Letters & Graphic Art. Overall, it was a solid auction in which almost all of the highlights sold most satisfactorily. Particularly pleasing was the high quality offering of Graphic Art which in turn allowed for the market to respond most positively.
The top lot of the auction was an excellent copy of Masecheth Bava Bathra, one of the most scarce and important tractates of Daniel Bomberg’s celebrated Talmud edition, Venice, 1521, which yielded $80,000 (Lot 226). Other Hebraic texts offered in the sale included a first edition, in very fine condition, of the Shela’h Siddur, Amsterdam, 1717, which reached its high estimate of $40,000 (Lot 175) and Chidushei Shem MiShmuel, 1817, with an exceptionally rare signature by the pre-eminent Chassidic leader, Kalonymus Kalman Epstein (the Maor Vashemesh) which sold for $20,000 (Lot 62).
Notable selections among the Passover Hagadahs included a scarce copy of the first separate printing of the David Levi Hagadah (the precursor of the first American Hagadah), London, 1794, which garnered $7,500 (lot 110) and an unusual German Hagadah from 1936 with detailed reports of the activities of the Jewish Community of Berlin in Nazi Germany, which hammered at $2,250, more than doubling its high estimate (Lot 118).
The Americana section of the sale boasted an item of great significance in the history of American Jewry: Speeches on the Jew Bill in the House of Delegates in Maryland, 1829. This important text gave Jews residing in that state full civil rights that had up until that point been denied them. It was purchased for $18,000 (Lot 16).
A highlight among Holy Land related texts was Views in Palestine from the Original Drawings of Luigi Mayer, London, 1804, which attained $6,000 (Lot 153).
Within the Manuscripts section of the auction an eye-catching illuminated Ketubah from Ruse, Bulgaria, 1831, garnered $10,000 against an estimate of $3,000-5,000 (Lot 321). The catalogue cover lot, an extraordinary illuminated manuscript composed on a large vellum sheet, depicting King Nebuchadnezzar's dream from the Book of Daniel and explaining it in exhaustive detail in Hebrew brought in $24,000 (Lot 322).
A number of fine paintings and drawings rounded out the sale. A pen and ink drawing of Charlie Chaplin by Marc Chagall dated 1929 generated tremendous interest and after competitive bidding reached $38,000, sailing over its pre-auction estimate of $15,000-20,000 (Lot 331). An Austrian landscape by Isidor Kaufmann earned $15,000 (Lot 334) and a poignant painting of a Sabbath Eve scene by Marcin Gottlieb, younger brother of the celebrated Maurycy Gottlieb realized $6,500 (Lot 333).
For further information, please contact Jackie Insel at 212-366-1197.