Auctions | March 3, 2017

Books, Manuscripts, Maps at Kestenbaum & Co. on March 16

Kestenbaum & Company will be featuring Isidor Kaufmann’s painting entitled “A Young Jewish Bride” (lot 1) in their upcoming auction of Fine Judaica to be held on Thursday, March 16th. The subject of a Jewish woman is one that was seldom created by Kaufmann, making this particular artwork most desirable. The painting has been exhibited over the years at both The Israel Museum and at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. It was acquired decades ago directly from Philipp Kaufmann, son of the artist, and has now been consigned to Kestenbaum for auction by descendants of the original owner. 

Estimated at $200,000-300,000, the painting is accompanied by a detailed letter of provenance written by Philipp Kaufmann (London, 1964). Another Isidor Kaufmann painting, “Hasid at Prayer” is offered as lot 2. This fine portrait has never before appeared at auction, nor has it ever been publicly exhibited. The pre-auction estimate is $60,000-80,000.

Further Fine Art offerings in the auction include works by such noted artists as Samuel Hirszenberg, Mane-Katz, Lajos Kolozsvary, Artur Markowicz, Leopold Pilichowski, Ze’ev Raban, Issachar Ber Ryback, Hermann Struck and Roman Vishniac.

The Printed Books section of the sale commences with a selection of American Judaica:

  • A rare, complete set of Isaac Leeser’s Discourses on the Jewish Religion, collected sermons of this pioneer of American Orthodoxy, Philadelphia, 1856-67 Estimate: $10,000-15,000 (Lot 35)
  • Seder HaTephiloth, the first Hebrew prayer-book printed in America, New York, 1826. Estimate: $6,000-9,000 (Lot 31)
  • A Historical Souvenir Journal for Yeshiva College Building Fund, Madison Square Garden, NY, 1926. Estimate: $600-900 (Lot 42)

Important Hebrew Printed Book highlights include:

  • A complete, wide-margined copy of Solomon ibn Gabirol’s Mivchar HaPeninim, Soncino, 1484. Estimate: $50,000-60,000 (Lot 139)
  • Schneur Zalman of Liadi’s Sepher Likutei Amarim [“Tanya”], Shklov, 1806. Estimate: $15,000-18,000 (Lot 76)
  • The first edition of Isaiah ben Abraham Halevi Horowitz’s Shnei Luchoth HaBrith, Amsterdam, 1648-49. Estimate: $10,000-15,000 (Lot 134)
  • The first edition of the Kabbalistic Sepher Yetzirah, Mantua, 1562. Estimate: $18,000-22,000 (Lot 153)
  • The very first Hebrew prayer-book printed in Switzerland, Seder Tefilloth MiKol HaShanah KeMinhag Kehiloth Ashkenazim, Basle, 1579. Estimate: $15,000-25,000 (Lot 168)

Further noteworthy Printed Books in other languages:

  • An uncut and unopened copy of the Polyglot Psalter, the second book printed in Arabic and the only book printed in Genoa, Italy, in the first quarter of the 16th century. Estimate: $12,000-18,000 (Lot 64)
  • Isaac Cardoso’s Las Excelencias de los Hebreos, the first edition of this masterpiece of Jewish apologetics, Amsterdam, 1679. Estimate: $6,000-9,000 (Lot 75)
  • The first edition of Joseph Gikatilla’s Portae Lucia, the work that opened the portal of Kabbalah to Christian Hebraists, Augsburg, 1516. Estimate: $4,000-6,000 (Lot 154)
  • The first Hebrew edition of the Koran, Leipzig, 1857. Estimate: $2,000-3,000 (Lot 142)

Prominent among Holocaust-related lots:

  • An original Safe Conduct Pass issued and signed by Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara and Dutch diplomat Jan Zwartendijk bearing visas for a Jew to escape from Lithuania during World War II, Kaunas, 1940. Estimate: $10,000-15,000 (Lot 118)
  • A Swedish Protective Passport issued to a Hungarian Jew by Raoul Wallenberg, Budapest, 1944. Estimate $6,000-9,000 (Lot 123)
  • Four scarce Bank of England counterfeit Sterling bills forged by Jewish concentration camp prisoners, under Operation Bernhard, Germany, 1943. Estimate: $4,000-6,000 (Lot 119)

Autograph Letters Highlights:

  • An extraordinary and voluminous world-wide study on anti-Semitism, created by the Holocaust survivor and prominent Argentinean reparation lawyer, José Moskovits. Included are circa 1,000 autograph letters signed by noted religious authorities, politicians, academics, artists, corporate leaders, writers, journalists and other notables from around the globe who answered Mr. Moskovits’ survey concerning anti-Semitism, 1974-78. Estimate: $20,000-25,000 (Lot 226)
  • A collection of c. 63 autograph letters signed by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, R. Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson and his sons-in-law, Brooklyn, NY 1943-51. Estimate: $20,000-25,000 (Lot 261)
  • A collection of 19 fascinating autograph letters signed relating to the bitter divisions which arose within the ultra-Orthodox world surrounding the marriage of Rabbi Amram Blau, leader of the Neturei Karta sect, and Ruth Ben-David, the divorced, French covert to Judaism, 1965-66. Estimate: 8,000-12,000 (Lot 234)
  • An autograph letter by R. Mordechai Banet, a responsa concerning milk sold to a Gentile on Passover, Nikolsburg, 1794. Estimate: $8,000-10,000 (Lot 228)
  • A letter signed by R. Yechezkel Shraga Halberstam of Shinova (The Shinaver Rav), 1896. Estimate: $10,000-15,000 (Lot 244)
  • A group of 11 autograph letters signed by Marc Chagall, all written in Yiddish to David Giladi, Vence, 1970’s. Estimate: $4,000-6,000 (Lot 235)
  • A presentation copy of Torath HaNazir warmly inscribed and signed by the author, R. Yitzchak Hutner, Kovno, 1932. Estimate $1,000-1,500 (Lot 136)
  • A Western Union Telegram containing a New Years greeting sent by Prime Minister Menachem Begin to Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, 1981. Estimate: $3,000-5,000 (Lot 63)

Manuscripts of interest include:

  • Regulations of the Frankfurt Bikur Cholim Society, Hebrew manuscript on vellum, with more than 250 autograph signatures of several generations of society members, Frankfurt, 1760. Estimate: $8,000-12,000 (Lot 240)
  • An illuminated marriage contract on vellum from Split, Croatia, 1836. Estimate: $4,000-6,000 (Lot 251)
  • An illuminated marriage contract from Calcutta, 1892, linking three exotic communities: India, Burma and Java (Indonesia). Estimate: $4,000-6,000 (Lot 252)
  • A finely composed 18th century Ethiopic Psalter, written in Ge’ez on vellum, and housed in an early leather carrying-case. Estimate: $1,000-2,000 (Lot 239)

Rounding out the auction are Holy Land Maps mostly from the Collection of Nathan Lewin, Esq., including:

  • Ptolemy’s Tabula Terre Sanctae, Lyon, 1535. Estimate: $5,000-7,000 (Lot 268)
  • Joann Simonis’s renowned “Grapevine Map” of the Holy Land, a hand-colored copy, Halle, 1741. Estimate: 6,000-9,000 (Lot 144)
  • Heinrich Buenting’s celebrated “Clover Leaf Map”, Magdeburg, 1581. Estimate: $4,000-6,000 (Lot 271)

The auction will take place on Thursday, March 16th at 3:00 pm in our gallery located at 242 West 30th Street in New York City. The exhibition will be held from Monday, March 13th through Wednesday, March 15th. For further information, to request images, or for any other queries please contact Ms. Jackie Insel: (Tel) 212.366.1197 or at