Auctions | July 2, 2015

Rare Rabbinical Manuscripts Command Sky-High Prices in Kestenbaum & Co.’s June 25 Auction

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of the material on offer and the fact that almost one-third of these medieval and pre-modern Hebraic manuscripts remain unpublished.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