Buyers from around the globe bid furiously for the chance to acquire rare Hebrew Manuscripts at Kestenbaum & Company’s Fine Judaica auction held on June 25th. Tremendous interest and competitive bidding drove hammer prices exponentially beyond their catalogue estimates. The stellar sale results were confidently expected considering the unique quality of the material on offer and the fact that almost one-third of these medieval and pre-modern Hebraic manuscripts remain unpublished. Indeed, for the week ending June 27th, Kestenbaum & Company earned the second highest total proceeds of all Book and Manuscripts auctions worldwide. 

Kestenbaum & Company was honored to have been awarded a singular consignment for auction on behalf of the public authorities of the State of Israel. Much planning went into the preparation of the sale including the hiring of specialist consultant Rabbi Dovid Kamenetsky of Jerusalem to assist with the scholarly research. 

The first fifty-six lots of the auction were outstanding Hebrew manuscripts pertaining to Rabbinics, Kabbalah, Liturgy, Talmud, etc. and every one of them was greeted with an exceptional response in the saleroom. The star lot, Igroth Shada’r, a collection of almost 120 autograph letters each signed by the most prominent rabbinic leaders of mid 19th century Eretz Israel including R. Chaim of Pinsk, R. Israel of Shklov, R. Nathan Nota ben R. Menachem Mendel, reached $195,000 (Lot 30) after extremely spirited bidding, making it Number One on Rare Book Hub’s Top 25 Lots Reported for the week ending June 27th. 

To note here just three other strong examples: Abraham ben Mordechai Azulai’s autographed Ahava BeTa’anugim, Hebron, 1641, earned $80,000 (Lot 5); Solomon ben Joshua Adani’s fundamental commentary to the Mishnah, Melecheth Shlomo, Hebron, 1589-1623, garnered $75,000 (lot 38) and Yoseph ben Moshe Trani’s (The Mahari’t) Teshuvoth, Constantinople, 1604-39, attained $60,000 (Lot 51).

A standout lot from other property offered in the sale was an important and extensive archive of c. 1,200 documents relating to the Hebron Massacre of August 1929. It was purchased for $36,000 (Lot 172).

Kestenbaum & Company’s next auction of Fine Judaica is scheduled for November 12th. The sale will include Part II of the Singular Collection of Biblical and Rabbinic Manuscripts as well as Rare Books & Manuscripts from the Library of the late Rabbi Dr. David de Sola Pool. Also on the Fall calendar is an auction of Masterpieces of Jewish Art scheduled for December 16th.

For further information please contact Jackie Insel at 212-366-1197 or Jackie@kestenbaum.net 



LONDON, Maddox Street - Napoleonic and Georgian satire was in high demand and making top prices in Bloomsbury Auctions’ sale on Thursday 25th June. The packed-out Maddox Street saleroom saw competitive bidders pushing prices to new record heights, with 98% of the lots selling for a total of £320,000 ($500,000), over three times the low estimate.

All lots in Lord Baker of Dorking’s opening collection of Napoleonic Caricatures sold, with many achieving well over estimate. James Gillray’s iconic The Plumb-pudding in danger, showing Pitt and Napoleon carving up the globe, sold for £18,600 far exceeding its previous record of £11,950 set in London, 2002 [Lot 51].  Other record prices included Gillray’s set of six Egyptian Sketches, £10,416 [Lot 8], The Valley of the Shadow of Death, sold for £4,712 [Lot 68] and Fighting for the Dunghill, sold for £4,340 [Lot 6] both also by James Gillray.

The second collection of Georgian Social & Political satire from the Property of a Gentleman also saw impressive prices with Robert Seymour’s Living Made Easy selling for £8,060 (estimate £1,500-2,000, Lot 123), George Cruikshank’s Monstrosities of Fashion achieving £7,688 (estimate £2,000-3,000, Lot 116) and Thomas Rowlandson and George Moutard Woodward’s Le Brun, Travested selling for £5,000 (estimate £2,000-3,000, Lot 122).

Rupert Powell, Head of Books and Works on Paper at Bloomsbury Auctions commented after the auction; “Today’s sale has shown a resurgence in caricatures from the golden age of satire. We’re pleased to see such exceptional prices achieved across the sale for our two vendors, who are of course delighted that their collections have been so enthusiastically received by the market.”

A most remarkable item of historical importance is coming up on auction, particularly because of the 1916 Easter Rising commemorations which are planned for next year in Ireland.

Lot 2 - Casement, [Sir] Roger: Autograph letter in manuscript, signed by Roger Casement, expressing strong views on Irish language and independence

Roger David Casement (IrishRuairí Dáithí Mac Easmainn; 1 September 1864 - 3 August 1916) - known as Sir Roger Casement between 1911 and shortly before his execution for treason, when he was stripped of his knighthood[1] - was an Anglo-Irish diplomat for the United Kingdom, a humanitarian activist, Irish nationalist and a poet. Described as the "father of twentieth-century human rights investigations," he was awarded honours in 1905 for his report on the Congo and knighted in 1911 for his important investigations of human rights abuses in Peru. These achievements became overshadowed by his efforts during World War I to gain German collaboration for a 1916 armed uprising in Ireland to gain its independence. 

Roger Casement, stripped of his knighthood, was hanged on 3 August 1916, after his capture following a secret landing on the coast of Ireland in events leading up to the Easter Rebellion. 

This letter is a clear testament by one of the outstanding figures in Irish history, at a key moment in the development of his thinking.

The letter has never been offered for sale before.

Excerpt from the letter on auction:

'I want Ireland to be restored to Europe. I want to see her again a country - a land, a nation, playing her part in European life and always as I believe, playing it just and rightly. I don’t look upon her at all as a bit of English property, or as belonging to England, or as being “owned” by anyone but herself and her own children and I hope before I die to see something start become reality … I only want to be “an Irishman” - to me it is the proudest title upon Earth. … I fully expect to end my days in jail - and there are a good many things I’d cheerfully go to jail for, and one is the poor old downtrodden, despised Irish language.’ 

At the time this letter was penned, Roger Casement was a passenger on the SS Armadale Castle, returning to England after a period in South Africa. He had committed money from his life insurance to his brother Tom’s project of buying an inn at Mount Rydal, Witsieshoek, on the border between the Orange Free State and Basutoland, and had been in South Africa in this connection. Casement’s leave from the Foreign Office was due to expire at the end of the month, and we find him, at the time of writing, at a critical juncture in his life, contemplating his future. 

Though knighted for his role in exposing atrocities against native peoples in the Congo and Putumayo, Casement, worn out by arthritis, no longer saw himself continuing in colonial service. He would formally request permission to retire on 29 June 1913. His thoughts were very focused on the Irish language and independence for Ireland. The first two pages of the letter express thanks to Mr and Mrs de Villiers for their kindness in having come to see Casement off at Cape Town harbour. Casement explains his failure to visit them at their home, as Alice Stopford Green had urged him to do, mentioning that he had made an attempt, but had mistakenly gone to the home of Lord de Villiers, brother of the letter’s recipient. 

The greater part of the letter moves from expressions of sympathy with General Hertzog and his campaign for the Dutch or fledgling Afrikaans language in South Africa, to concerns about British imperialism and its impact on his beloved Ireland and the Irish tongue. As early as 1893, as Séamas Ò Sìocháin notes in Roger Casement: Imperialist, Rebel, Revolutionary, there had been “evidence of a parallelism between [Casement’s] thinking on Africa and on Ireland.” Ò Sìocháin also quotes correspondence with Casement’s cousin Gertrude in which Hertzog is referred to as “the Dutch Parnell”. 

Conditions in South Africa serve as a means of crystallising Casement’s thinking on his own country. A startling prescience emerges when he writes: ‘I know quite well what the English mean by “Equal rights”! We’ve had plenty of that kind of talk in Ireland but we’ve never seen the real thing. … I want Ireland to be restored to Europe. I want to see her again a country - a land, a nation, playing her part in European life and always as I believe, playing it just and rightly. I don’t look upon her at all as a bit of English property, or as belonging to England, or as being “owned” by anyone but herself and her own children and I hope before I die to see something start become reality … I only want to be “an Irishman” - to me it is the proudest title upon Earth. … I fully expect to end my days in jail - and there are a good many things I’d cheerfully go to jail for, and one is the poor old downtrodden, despised Irish language.’ 
Published: 1913

Reserve: $3750

Estimate: $5500

260 x 197 mm; eight notepaper leaves, each with writing on one side; twice-folded. Small stain to pages 6 and 7; short horizontal tear at junction of folds on each leaf.
Very good condition.  

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Letters About Literature, a Library of Congress national reading and writing program that asks young people in grades 4 through 12 to write to an author (living or deceased) about how his or her book affected their lives, has announced its 2015 winners.

More than 50,000 young readers from across the country participated in this year’s Letters About Literature initiative funded by a grant from the Library’s James Madison Council with additional support from the Library’s Center for the Book. The initiative is a reading-promotion program of the Center for the Book, with the goal of instilling a lifelong love of reading in the nation’s youth. Since 1997, more than a million students have participated.

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DALLAS—A c. 1860 Brooklyn Atlantics Baseball Card, passed down in the family of player Archibald McMahon for more than 150 years, will be on the block Thursday, July 30, 2015, as part of Heritage Auctions’ Platinum Night Sports Auction, held in conjunction with the 2015 National Sports Collectors Convention in Chicago.  It is expected to bring $50,000+.

“This is a seminal artifact, not just of baseball, but of American history,” said Chris Ivy, Director of Sports Auctions at Heritage. “It ranks with the most significant mementos of the sport's infancy ever to surface and is, quite possibly, the only team card on Earth printed before the first drop of blood was spilled in the American Civil War.”

New York, NY, June 25, 2015—In memory of the great type designer, typographer, and calligrapher Hermann Zapf (1918-2015), the Morgan Library & Museum will exhibit one of his most virtuosic creations: a calligraphic manuscript of the preamble of the UN Charter, written in French, English, Spanish, and Russian. The work will be on view from June 26, the date the UN Charter was signed seventy years ago, through October 25, the weekend of UN Day, which marks the date the treaty went into effect. 

ABOUT HERMANN ZAPF

Hermann Zapf, creator of the legendary Palatino, Optima, and Zapfino typefaces, died on June 4 at the age of ninety-six. Born in Nuremberg in 1918, he was a master of the alphabet whose career spanned a period of enormous technological change in the field of typography. From the era of hot metal type to the advent of digital fonts, he embraced each new form with grace and innovation. Zapf designed letters that pervade our everyday lives—the beautiful lines of his sans-serif Optima, for example, adorn the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., and the 9/11 Memorial in New York. His innovative typeface Zapf Dingbats was a precursor to the now-ubiquitous emoji set. His command of letterforms is particularly notable in the astonishing handwork of his calligraphic manuscripts.

Addison & Sarova Auctioneers is proud to announce the sale of the library of Robert Easton.  This massive collection will be offered over two different sales in the Summer and Fall of 2015.  

Mr. Easton, known as the “Henry Higgins of Hollywood,” was the premier language and dialect coach in Hollywood for many decades up until his passing in 2011.  He was first involved in the film industry as an actor, but his true passion was language.  He coached thousands of actors during his career and garnered high praise from many household names such as John Travolta and Forest Whitaker (among countless others).

WASHINGTON, DC—On July 1, 2015, David M. Rubenstein, philanthropist and co-CEO of The Carlyle Group, a global alternative asset manager, will become a trustee of the National Gallery of Art, while Victoria Sant will become trustee emerita after 15 years of service on the board, 12 of them also as Gallery president. Rubenstein was appointed for a term of ten years.

“On behalf of the trustees, it is my great pleasure to welcome David Rubenstein to the Board as the Gallery prepares to celebrate its 75th anniversary year and the reopening of its East Building in 2016,” said Frederick W. Beinecke, Gallery president. “We will continue to seek the wise counsel and support of Vicki Sant, who has been the Gallery’s tireless champion for decades.”

DALLAS—Heritage Auctions has announced that Lloyd Currey, one of the leading popular fiction specialists in the rare books trade, will be joining forces with Heritage Auctions.

"Lloyd is one of the top specialists in the world when it comes to Popular Fiction, including Science Fiction and Fantasy, Horror, and Mystery and Detective Fiction,” said James Gannon, Director of Rare Books at Heritage. “The entire Heritage family is quite pleased to welcome him to our team. His expertise and reputation in the marketplace for genre fiction immediately raises the level of our rare book auctions."

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YORK, Pa.—Superheroes aren’t always the product of fantasy. Sometimes they’re ordinary people who’ve gone on to achieve superhuman goals—like the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and baseball legend Martin Dihigo, the only man ever to be inducted in the Baseball Halls of Fame in the United States, Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela. Backed by their rich and unique legacies, Dihigo and King unquestionably deserve the title of “superhero” and the right to stand alongside Superman in Hake’s Auction #215, which closes for bidding July 14-16.

The centerpiece among the many important civil rights mementos entered in the 2,600-lot sale is a 1958 first edition of Dr. King’s Stride Toward Freedom, which the civil rights icon signed and gifted to US Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren a few months after its publication. Warren’s leadership was widely credited with the passage in 1954 of Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark bill that banned segregation in public schools. In a bold hand, Dr. King inscribed the book: “To: Justice Earl Warren, In appreciation for your genuine good-will, your great humanitarian concern, and for your unswerving devotion to the sublime principles of our American democracy. With warm Regards, Martin L. King Jr.” Held in Justice Warren’s personal library for a lifetime and now consigned to auction by the Warren family, the book is a unique cultural artifact and estimated at $20,000-$35,000.

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