Kestenbaum to Auction Fine Judaica, Holy Land Travel

Kestenbaum & Company’s first of two Fine Judaica auctions to be held this Spring will take place on Thursday, May 2nd at 3:00 pm at the company’s gallery in New York City. Featured in the sale will be Rare Books, Manuscripts and Autograph Letters. A second Spring Judaica auction scheduled for June 13th will offer Ceremonial Objects and Graphic Art exclusively.  The May auction of nearly 400 lots includes Holy Land Travel books offered from the Collection of Nathan Lewin, Esq. These books represent in particular, the varied ways over the centuries that the country has been cartographically represented. Further sale highlights include rare books, manuscripts and important letters consigned from illustrious Rabbinic libraries including the Rivkin and Zuckerman families and the late Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchak Halevi Ruderman, founder and Rosh Yeshiva of Ner Israel Rabbinical College, Baltimore.


A broad range of subjects being offered for auction include Americana, Anglo-Judaica, anti-Semitica, Bibles, Chassidic books, children’s books, Passover Hagadahs, Kabbalistic books, Holocaust-era related books, books relating to Jews in 19th and early 20th century China, a number of rare government pamphlets relating to Jews of early 18th century Germany, Zionist related books and Livres d’Artistes.

An exceptional lot of American Judaica is a large, visually striking illuminated Hebrew manuscript of the Book of Psalms, handwritten and illustrated by Morris Weingberg, Chicago, 1910-12.  Using clear Hebrew calligraphy accompanied by delightful explanatory folk illustrations, the artist has designed a highly creative and captivating example of Jewish Americana. The pre-sale estimate is $70,000-90,000 (Lot 342).


Penina Moise’s Hymns Written for the Service of the Hebrew Congregation Beth Elohim, Charleston, S.C., 1842, is noteworthy as it was the first book of poetry published by a Jew in the United States and furthermore, that first person was a Jewish woman. The pre-auction estimate is $8,000-10,000 (Lot 11). Additional American Judaica highlights include Mordecai Manuel Noah’s Discourse on the Restoration of the Jews, New York, 1845, estimate $3,000-5,000 (Lot 12), Uriah Phillips Levy’s Manual of Internal Rules and Regulations for Men-of-War, New York, 1862, estimate $1,200-1,800 (Lot 20) and an album of photographs inscribed by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and presented to U.S. President Harry S. Truman in 1958, estimate $2,000-2,500 (Lot 55).


Notable Bibles offered for sale include a Renaissance-era pocket-sized Hebrew Bible, beautifully bound in eight volumes, printed by Estienne, Paris, 1543-46, estimate $12,000-15,000 (Lot 59); the Apparatus Sacer from the Antwerp Polyglot Bible including maps and engraved plates, 1572, estimate $8,000-10,000 (Lot 72) and a Hebrew Bible used throughout the 19th century in the courts of law in Prague to administer the oath to witnesses of the Jewish faith at an estimate of $3,000-5,000 (Lot 69). Of exceptional interest among Chassidic books is an early edition of Elimelech of Lizhensk’s classic text No’am Elimelech, Slavuta, 1794, estimated at $25,000-30,000 (Lot 85).


Another important rarity in the sale is the first Hebrew book printed in Fez, Morocco, indeed it is the first book printed on the African continent in any language: Jacob ben Asher’s Yoreh De’ah, circa 1516-17. This book has never before been offered at auction. The pre-sale estimate is $40,000-60,000 (Lot 198).


Additional Rabbinic books sure to garner attention are Jacob Emden’s Mor U’ketziah with his extensive autograph marginal notes and corrections, Altona, 1761-68, estimate $25,000-30,000; noted 17th century Polish Kabbalist Nathan Nata Shapiro’s Megaleh Amukoth, Cracow, 1637, estimate $12,000-18,000 (Lot 267); Nachmanides’ Peirush HaTorah, Pesaro, 1513-14, estimate $13,000-15,000 (Lot 247); Jacob Auspitz’s Be’er Haluchoth, the first Hebrew atlas, featuring five hand-colored maps in Hebrew, Vienna, 1818 estimate $10,000-15,000 (Lot 308) and Judah ben Bezalel Loewe’s Chibur Nethivoth Olam, with an addition of three lines of handwritten text possibly by the MaHaRa’L himself, Prague, 1595-96 estimate $5,000-7,000 (Lot 221).


General interest texts in the sale include Swiss scholar and physician Johann Jacob Scheuchzer’s Physique Sacree, ou Histoire Naturelle de la Bible, in eight folio volumes, Amsterdam, 1732-37, estimate $12,000-15,000 (Lot 262); Bernard Picart’s six-volume set, Description of the Religious Duties, Manners and Customs of all the Nations of the World, Amsterdam, 1727-38, estimate $7,000-9,000 (Lot 261); Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud’s famous exchange on the root causes of war: Why War?, 1933, estimate $1,200-1,800 (Lot 110); the first edition of Benedict Spinoza’s highly influential philosophical work, Opera Posthuma, Amsterdam, 1677, estimate $3,000-5,000 (Lot 269) and a group of seven volumes relating to the sport of boxing and the career of the Anglo-Jewish boxer Daniel Mendoza, London, at an estimate $1,200-1,800 (Lot 274).


Material relating to the Alfred Dreyfus Affair includes the L’Aurore newspaper issue featuring Emile Zola’s iconic J’Accuse headline, Paris, 1898, estimate $2,000-3,000 (Lot 107) and noteworthy among the Zionist related books is the first Hebrew edition of Theodor Herzl’s Medinat HaYehudim: Der Judenstaat, Warsaw, 1896, estimated at $2,000-3,000 (Lot 290).


Among the map related books in the auction is Johann Simonis’ Onomasticum, featuring the celebrated “grapevine map” of the Holy Land, Halle, 1741, at an estimate of $10,000-15,000 (Lot 178). 


Highlights from the Nathan Lewin collection of Holy Land Travel books include:


• Bernhard von Breydenbach’s Die Heiligen Reysen gein Jherusalem, 1505, including all fold-out woodcut plates, estimate $12,000-18,000 (Lot 309).


• German theologian Heinrich Buenting’s, Itinerarium Sacrae Scripturae, Magdeburg, 1593, complete with all maps including the famous “clover-leaf” map of the Holy Land, estimate $12,000-18,000 (Lot 312).


• Olfert Dapper’s Naukeurige Beschryving van Gantsch Syrie, en Palestyn of Heilige Lant, with every map, view and text illustration exceptionally hand-colored throughout, Amsterdam, 1677, estimate $10,000-15,000 (Lot 317).


• Thomas Fuller’s A Pisgah-Sight of Palestine, London, 1650, an extraordinary hand-colored copy, estimate $10,000-15,000 (Lot 318).


• Luigi Mayer’s Views in Palestine, London, 1804, complete with 24 color aquatint plates, estimate $4,000-6,000 (Lot 330).


Exceptional within the Manuscript section of the sale is the personal Hagadah of Grand Rabbi Reb Herschele of Zyditchov with his detailed lengthy autograph notes on many pages. The Hagadah itself is extracted from the Reb Asher Siddur, Lemberg, 1787. The pre-sale estimate is $80,000-120,000 (Lot 349). A further prominent lot is an original manuscript proclamation from 1935 praying for the recovery and restoration to health of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, Chief Rabbi of the Land of Israel, signed by dozens of Rabbinic leaders and Chassidic Rebbes, estimate $25,000-30,000 (Lot 375). Also of note is an insightful autograph manuscript written by the Baal Shem of Michelstadt, estimate $15,000-18,000 (Lot 387).


Rounding out the Manuscripts section are Autograph Letters by renowned Rabbis and historical figures including Rabbi Meir Arik of Tarnow, Rabbi Naphtali Tzvi Yehuda Berlin (Netziv) of Volozhin, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, R. Dov Berish Widenfeld (Tchebiner Rav), members of the Schneerson family of Lubavitch and Prof. Albert Eintstein. 


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

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