A fine selection of Holy Land Maps consigned from the collection of attorney Nathan Lewin of Washington, DC was a highlight of Kestenbaum & Company’s Fine Judaica auction which took place on Thursday, June 26th. After an extremely successful sale of Holy Land travel books from Mr. Lewin’s collection that was offered for auction by Kestenbaum in the spring of 2013, buyers once again eagerly bid on the second part of his collection offered in this auction. Also included in the auction was a wide array of Books, Manuscripts, Autograph Letters, Ceremonial Objects and Graphic Art.
Generating competitive bidding in the map section was Ptolemy’s Tabula Moderna Terre Sancte, a double page, hand-colored woodcut map, Ulm, 1482, which realized $19,000 against a pre-sale estimate of $10,000-15,000 (lot 247). Also performing strongly was the auction catalogue cover lot: a hand-colored copy of Heinrich Buenting’s celebrated clover-leaf map of the world, Magdeburg, 1581, which brought in $18,000 against an estimate of $7,000-10,000 (lot 229) and another double-page hand-colored woodcut map by Ptolemy, Strassbourg, 1520, which earned $8,000 (Lot 248).
Elsewhere in the sale, one of the top lots of the day was Naphtali Hertz Imber’s Sepher Barkai, Jerusalem, 1886, which contains the first appearance of what was to become the State of Israel’s National Anthem. This rare copy, inscribed and signed by the author, sold for $40,000 (Lot 222). Also in the Manuscripts section, a unique and attractive illuminated Kethubah, composed in Faizabad, 1910, the only marriage contract extant from the North-Eastern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, attained $28,000 (Lot 193). Among the Autograph Letters offered for sale, tremendous interest yielded high prices for a group of five autograph postcards written between 1918-1927 by Rabbi Joseph Rosen, “The Rogatchover Gaon”, garnering $10,000 (Lot 213). Also noteworthy was a historic autograph letter written in 1954 by the Chief Rabbi of the State of Israel, Isaac Halevi Herzog, to a scholar of Islam, insisting that only by fostering the natural historic and religious bonds between Islam and Judaism will the political strife between Israel and her Arab neighbors lead to a permanent peace. The letter reached $9,000 against an estimate of $4,000-6,000 (Lot 179).
Headlining the book section of the sale was a rare edition of the text that gave rise to Chassidism: Ya’akov Yoseph of Polonoye’s Toldoth Ya’akov Yoseph, Koretz, 1780, which achieved $29,000 (Lot 49). Other noteworthy highlights included Hame’assef, the first continuous Hebrew periodical of the Haskalah movement, vols. I-X, 1783-1811, which reached $15,000 (Lot 103) and an important compendium of 16th century Papal Bullae, including several relating to Jews, most notably the Bull ordering the burning of the Talmud, Rome, 1559, the volume was purchased for $17,000 (Lot 159). Also finding favor with buyers was an extraordinarily rare book of Yiddish poems, Lodz, 1931, composed by the Holocaust survivor “Ka-tzetnik”, written while he was a Chassidic yeshiva student in Poland. This copy, entirely complete, including the rare illustrated wrappers, along with a photographic portrait inscribed and signed by the author, realized $11,000 (Lot 119).
Two lots in particular generated spirited bidding within the Americana section. The United States Chronicle dated 23rd September 1790, containing the full texts of the historic exchange of “To Bigotry No Sanction” letters, written between Moses Seixas of the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island and President George Washington, reached $13,000 (Lot 2) and a pamphlet including documents of the incorporation of “The Jews’ Hospital in New York” in 1852 and the Act of 1866 changing its name to The Mount Sinai Hospital, New York, 1878 was bought for $16,000 against an estimate of $5,000-7,000 (Lot 16).
Most prominent in the Graphic Arts section was Zalman Kleinman’s oil painting, The Chassidic Violinist, which earned $25,000 (Lot 257) and a standout among the Ceremonial Objects offered in the sale was an important French-Alsatian silver-gilt Kiddush beaker inscribed to Grand Rabbi Isaac Levy of Colmar in commemoration of a synagogue service held in Metz following the end of the Franco-Prussian war, 1871, which yielded $9,500 (Lot 296).
Kestenbaum & Company’s forthcoming auction of Fine Judaica: The Moldovan Collection, will be held in Fall, 2014.
For further information, please contact Jackie Insel at 212-366-1197 or firstname.lastname@example.org