Auctions | March 9, 2012

Hebrew Books, Manuscripts & Art at Kestenbaum's on March 21

Kestenbaum & Company’s spring auction of Fine Judaica is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, March 21st at 3:00 pm. The sale will be held at the company’s gallery at 242 West 30th Street in New York City. Viewing will be held from Sunday, March 18th through Tuesday, March 20th.  The 351-lot sale will feature a fine representation of Hebrew Printed Books, Manuscripts, Autograph Letters, Graphic and Ceremonial Art.
The catalogue cover lot is the very earliest recorded autograph letter by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson. Written by the Rebbe from his hometown of Yekatrinaslov in the Soviet Union in 1925, this lengthy letter was penned to the great Rogatchover Gaon, the foremost Talmudic scholar of his time, and displays the extraordinary erudition and fluency in Rabbinic learning that the Rebbe had master over even as a young man of 23. The pre-sale estimate is $30,000-50,000 (Lot 284). A number of letters written by other members of the renowned Schneerson family are also on offer in the auction (Lots 285-288).
Within the Manuscripts section is a selection of rare Medieval Hebrew Fragments sure to generate interest among discerning collectors. Most singular is a fragment from a lost text of Maimonides’ commentary to the Mishnah written by Saadiah al-Adani in 1222, less than twenty years after Maimonides had passed away. This fragment is from the oldest dated Hebrew codex produced in Yemen. The pre-auction estimate is $18,000-22,000 (Lot 282). Further rare fragments being offered include two virtually complete manuscript folios of the Babylonian Talmud Tractate Eruvin, Germany 12th-13th century, estimate $18,000-22,000 (Lot 291); a fragment from an eleventh century Hebrew Psalms, written in the Near East (possibly Syria), estimate $6,000-8,000 (Lot 257) and Hebrew fragments from Asher Ben Jechiel’s Hilchoth HaRosh, Spain, 14th century, at an estimate of $4,000-6,000 (Lot 255). Another noteworthy lot is the signed, personal Siddur of renowned Kabbalist, Haham Yitzhak Kadourie, with his autographed prayer-notes inserted. The estimate is $10,000-15,000 (Lot 281).
The Book Section features a fine selection of early texts such as an excellent copy of the second Mikraoth Gedoloth (Biblia Rabbinica), printed in Venice, 1524-5, here bound in 17th century full vellum, at an estimate of $50,000-70,000 (Lot 71). Also of note is a Latin Psalter, the first book published by Daniel Bomberg, Venice 1515, estimate $10,000-15,000 (Lot 76). Further early texts include Joseph Karo’s Shulchan Aruch, Venice, 1567, estimate $10,000-12,000 (Lot 185); a rare Constantinople imprint of Nachmanides’ Dina DeGarmei, 1515-20, estimate $10,000-12,000 (Lot 204) and David Ibn Yachya’s Hilchoth Treifoth, Constantinople, 1515-18, estimate $8,000-10,000 (Lot 152).
The most prominent Chassidic text in the sale is the eminently scarce first edition of the Ma’aneh Lashon issued according to the custom of Chabad Chassidim, Shklov, c. 1813. The pre-auction estimate is $15,000-20,000 (Lot 95). Two books written by Yisrael Meir Kagan of Radin, the “Chofetz Chaim” are also of interest: the first editions of Chofetz Chaim, Vilna, 1873, estimate $2,000-3,000 (Lot 181) and Shmirath Halashon, Vilna, 1876, estimate $1,000-1,500 (Lot 182).
Highlights in the American Judaica section include the very first complete set of Festival Prayer-Books printed in America, prepared by Isaac Leeser, Philadelphia, 1837-38, beautifully bound in uniform tan calf, estimate $30,000-40,000 (Lot 26); an exceptionally rare Hebrew-English broadside by Moses Aaron Schreiber, issued to commemorate America’s Centennial July 4, 1876, New York, estimate $12,000-18,000 (Lot 36) and Seder Shevach VeHoda’ah, a scarce pamphlet of prayers recited by the surviving Jews of Barbados on the first anniversary after a catastrophic hurricane decimated the island, 1832, estimate $6,000-8,000 (Lot 22).
Anglo-Judaica is well represented in the auction with a fine copy of a particularly rare Spanish language Prayer-Book, Orden de las Oraciones Cotidianas, London 1772, estimate $6,000-7,000 (Lot 189); David Nieto’s Binah La’Itim, the first Hebrew calendar printed in London, 1718, estimate $4,000-6,000 (Lot 42) and a Hebrew Peddlers’ Almanac, London, 1795, at an estimate of $3,000-4,000 (Lot 47). Books relating to Australia include Chief Rabbi Dr. N. M. Adler’s personal copy of Laws and Rules of the Sydney Synagogue “Beth Yisrael”, 1845, estimate $5,000-7,000 (Lot 60) and an Essay on the History and Theory of Music by Isaac Nathan, music adviser to Sydney’s Great Synagogue, 1836, estimate $1,200-1,800 (Lot 206). Also of interest is an exceptionally rare Confirmation Service pamphlet from the remote Jewish community of Dunedin in New Zealand, 1886, estimated at $3,000-4,000 (Lot 209). The Book Section continues to span the globe with a variety of texts from Jewish communities including Syria, Algeria, India, Rhodes, Surinam, Sweden, Uzbekistan, etc.
Other books of note is Arthur Szyk’s beautiful and richly illustrated Passover Hagadah printed on vellum, London 1939-40, estimate $30,000-40,000 (Lot 146) and the first Yiddish editions of Karl Marx’s Das Kapital (Lot 196), Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species (Lot 106) and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom's Cabin (Lot 35).
The Graphic Art section features visually impacting works by noted artists such as Ze’ev Raban, Hermann Struck, Ilya Schor, Jacob Eisenberg, Tully Filmus, Ernst Koerner, Zvi Milshtein, Anna Rychter-May, S. Seeberger, Anton Perko and M. Vorobeichic. Particularly worth mentioning is Charles Spencelayh’s detailed preparatory study in pencil on paper for his famous oil painting entitled The Promised Land, England, circa 1920, at an estimate of $10,000-15,000 (Lot 321). Also included among the Graphic Art is a selection of photography by Roman Vishniac (Lots 311-312), Bernice Abbot and Neil Folberg.
Within a small section of Ceremonial Art that rounds out the sale is an early 20th century tall Silver Chanukah Menorah by Tiffany & Co., estimate $8,000-10,000 (Lot 327); Ludwig Wolpert’s original maquette of his Bauhaus-style Kiddush goblet (signed and dated 2/5/73), estimate $1,000-1,500 (Lot 342) and a pair of bronze plaques portraying a religious married couple, Hungarian, early-20th century, at an estimate of $2,500-3,500 (Lot 350).
For  further  information  relating  to  bidding  or  any  other  queries,  please  contact Jackie  Insel at  212-366-1197.