Kestenbaum & Co. to Offer Fine Judaica: Printed Books, Manuscripts, & Art

Following the firm’s exclusive sale of Magnificent Silver Judaica last month, Kestenbaum & Company is now pleased to present on Thursday, January 31st at 3:00 pm, an auction of nearly 400 lots featuring the broad variety of Fine Judacia for which the company is celebrated. In addition to Rare Books and Manuscripts, this particular auction has an unusually strong section of Graphic Art highlighted by the famous 18th century portrait of the Ba’al Shem of London which is featured on the auction catalogue cover, as well as a collection of very fine Epraim Moses Lilien artwork.  


The celebrated painting of Hayim Samuel Jacob Falk, the Ba’al Shem of London, was painted in the 1770s probably by the French-British artist, Philip James de Loutherbourg. For more than a century it was broadly accepted that this was a portrait of the Ba’al Shem Tov himself. This framed oil on canvas is estimated at $30,000-50,000 (Lot 287).

Ten fine engravings by E.M. Lilien, each beautifully framed, that were purchased in the 1950s directly by the consignor from the artist’s sister, are sure to be of interest to art collectors. The highlight is a large watercolor from 1904 featuring the Biblical Moses as Liberator designed for a stained glass window in Hamburg, Germany, the pre-auction estimate for which is $10,000-15,000 (Lot 296). Also of particular interest in this section is a large hand-colored Micrographic Engraving for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur composed by Levi Van Gelder, New York, circa 1865, estimate $15,000-20,000 (Lot 310) and a rare engraved Portrait of Moses with the Ten Commandments in Hebrew by Hyam Sakolski, New York, 1872 at an estimate of $5,000-7,000 (Lot 282).


Other artists featured within the Graphic Art section include Imre Amos, Jacques Emile Edouard Brandon, William Gropper, Jacques Lipchitz, Jozef Israëls, Lazar Krestin, Artur Markowicz, Baruch Nachshon, Saul Raskin, Jakob Steinhardt, Abraham Walkowitz, Max Weber, Issachar Ryback and Shalom Moskowitz of Safed. 


A varied and interesting selection of Ceremonial Art is being offered for auction. Particularly striking is a beautiful and opulent late 19th century Continental gold Megillah case housing a Scroll of Esther on vellum, estimated at $30,000-50,000 (Lot 334). Another rarity of gold Judaica is an attractive Louis XIV-style Torah Pointer applied with jewels, at an estimate of $10,000-15,000 (Lot 335). Further highlights include an Italian illuminated Scroll of Esther, 18th century, estimate $10,000-12,000 (Lot 358), an Italian silver-bound Prayer-Book, estimate $4,000-6,000 (Lot 359), and a miniature Bezalel silver Megillah case housing an illustrated Esther Scroll, circa 1920, estimate $1,500-2,000 (Lot 357). Also featured are Chanukah Lamps, Kiddush Cups and Spice Towers. Particularly noteworthy within a section devoted to textiles is an exceptionally fine 19th century embroidered linen Torah Binder, previously in the Collection of the Hechal Shlomo Museum of Jerusalem, at an estimate of $5,000-7,000 (Lot 368).


Among the Manuscripts to be auctioned, the most noteworthy is an Ibn Ezra, Peirush HaTorah, written in 1381, the earliest known Hebrew Manuscript written in Kastoria, Macedonia, at an estimate of $50,000-70,000 (Lot 255). Further  highlights include Sepher Rav Mordechai (Riva di Trento, 1559) with extensive contemporary marginal notes written by a student of the great Rabbi Moses Isserles, estimate $10,000-15,000 (Lot 256) and a large esoteric 18th century Kabbalistic chart on vellum describing the Creation, at an estimate of $10,000-15,000 (Lot 257). Also notable are two autograph manuscript pages of Birkei Yosef  by Chaim Joseph David Azulai, circa 1770, estimate $5,000-7,000 (Lot 245) and Rabbi Elazar Menachem Shach’s personal copy of the Chidushei Rabbeinu Chaim Halevi (Brisk, 1936) with his autograph marginal notes, at an estimate of $4,000-6,000 (Lot 271).


Of note among the Autograph Letters section are letters written by R. Chaim Zanvil Abramowitz (The Ribnitzer Rebbe), David Friedlaender, R. Yisroel Meir Kagan (The Chofetz Chaim), R. Yisroel Perlow (The Yanukah), Rebbetzin Shterna-Sorah Schneerson, and a letter from  the Eidah HaChareidith written to R. Yoel Teitelbaum, the Satmar Rebbe, from Jerusalem, 1965 (Lot 278). 


Fine examples of 16th century Hebrew books are two rare, circa 1515, Constantinople imprints: Shimon ben Tzemach Duran’s Pirush HaKethubah, estimate $10,000-12,000 (Lot 70) and Mishpatei Hacherem, Vehanidui, Vehanezipha, at an estimate of $10,000-12,000 (Lot 171). Most prominent among later Hebrew printed books is the first edition of Judah Aryeh Modena’s Tzemach Tzadik, a scarce illustrated book of fables, Venice, 1600, estimate $25,000-30,000; Menasseh ben Israel’s Nishmath Chaim with the rare engraved portrait of the author, Amsterdam, 1652, estimate $15,000-20,000 (Lot 159) and a Bible with two finely hand-colored title pages and bound in an elaborate 18th century Dutch binding, Amsterdam, 1726, at an estimate of 7,000-9,000 (Lot 39). Leading a strong section of Chassidic books is a complete early edition of Elimelech of Lizhensk’s No’am Elimelech, Slavuta, 1794, at an estimate of $20,000-25,000 (Lot 44).


Other significant books include the first edition of Martin Luther’s work of Antisemitica, Vom Schem Hamphoras, Wittemberg, 1543, estimate $4,000-6,000 (Lot 22), the first separate publication of Karl Marx’s essay “On the Jewish Question”, London, 1896, estimate of $2,000-3,000 (Lot 158) and the first kosher cook-book in the English language, 1846, at an estimate of $6,000-8,000 (Lot 67). 


Further categories within the Printed Books section of the auction include Americana, Anglo-Judaica, Liturgy, Illustrated Books, French material, Passover Hagadahs, Holocaust related books and important books related to The Enlightenment. 


For  further  information  relating  to  bidding  or  any  other  queries,  please  contact Jackie  Insel at  212-366-1197.

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