November 2013 | Nate Pedersen

Illuminated Haggadah Manuscript Found in Garage Sells at Auction

A rare 18th century illuminated Haggadah manuscript sold at auction on Friday in Britain for £210,000 ($340,000). The manuscript generated some news coverage after an auctioneer found the manuscript languishing in an Odem soup box in a garage in a suburb of Manchester, England this past summer.
The manuscript - along with a variety of other rare books - was inherited by the unnamed Manchester family in 2007. The family wished to sell off some of their inheritance, so they arranged for a routine valuation from local auction house Adam Partridge. Partridge sent out an appraiser who stumbled across the manuscript while looking through the garage. The family did not even realize the manuscript existed.

The 20 pp illuminated Haggadah was created in 1726 for the Oppenheimer banking dynasty. (The Haggadah is traditionally read on the first night of Passover by Jews). Its creator was likely Aaron Wolff Heringen, court scribe to the Imperial Vienna Court, and exquisite illustrator. The manuscript was probably commissioned to commemorate the birth of Emanuel Mendel Oppenheimer, first child of Samuel Emanuel Oppenheimer of Vienna.

The family of the Haggadah's present owners smuggled the manuscript out of Belgium while fleeing the Nazis in WWII.

The Haggadah was expected to reach £500,000 at auction.  It was instead purchased for £210,000 by an unnamed European collector.  Many hope that its purchaser will arrange to the have the manuscript on public display.