Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Sotheby's upcoming Important Judaica auction

December is nearly here and that means that it is the height of Judaica Auction season. Following strong showings by Kestenbaum (Nov 13th), Greenstein (Nov. 24th), Kedem (Nov. 25th), the season reaches its culmination with an exceptionally rich offering of over 170 lots of Important Judaica by Sotheby’s New York. The auction will be held on December 4th, with public viewing, for four days only, from Sunday Nov. 30 through Wednesday, Dec 3.

Sotheby’s annual auction features an outstanding array of Hebrew books and manuscripts, important paintings, and ritual silver and metalwork. The sale is headlined by over 120 rare books and manuscripts, with over 80 lots drawn from a Distinguished Private Collection., carefully curated over the past four decades, and chronicling more than five centuries of Jewish culture. The auction offers a wide range of works with price points accessible to both new collectors as well as to those with more established collections. Including an important selection of Judaica Americana. The lots to be auctioned will be on public view in Sotheby’s York Avenue galleries (1334 York Ave.) from 30 November through 3 December, from 10:00am-5:00pm each day.

Among the highlights:

The Bologna Tehillim, (est. $70/90,000) the first part of the Hebrew Bible ever printed (accompanied with the perush of Radak.)

The Mahzor Le-Kol Ha-Shanah Ke-Minhag Ashkenaz; Sefer Tehilim (Ashkenazi Prayer Book For The Entire Year; Book Of Psalms—est. $550/750,000). This is the second work ever created by Aryeh Judah Leib Sofer ben Elhanan Katz, the scribe and artist of this outstanding mahzor, was influential in launching an artistic renaissance in the early decades of the 18th century, when Court Jews in Germany and Central Europe began to commission elaborately decorated Hebrew books as luxury items.

Seder Pirkei Shirah…Ve-Sefer Tehillim…Ve-Seder Tefilat Yom Kippur Katan (est. $750,000/1 million), by the scribe and artist Meshulam Zimmel ben Moses of Polna. Renowned for the accomplished delicacy of his line, Zimmel is especially skilled in his depiction of animals. The inspirational texts of this composition when joined with the unique talents of this accomplished scribe have combined to make this book one of the finest eighteenth-century decorated Hebrew manuscripts in existence.

A highlight of the Judaica Americana section is The Occident and American Jewish Advocate by Isaac Leeser (est. $150/250,000). The present lot is a complete run of Leeser’s periodical, The Occident, which ran from 1843-1869 and ultimately defined American Jewry and American Judaism for the 19th Century. It is arguably the single most important historical record of mid-19th century Jewish life in the Western Hemisphere. An entire run of The Occident has never before appeared at auction.

Perhaps the most unique piece of American Judaica offered in the current sale is a 1791 letter from Hyam Nathan of New York to Isaiah Isaacs of Richmond (est. $5/7,000) providing the only known record of the first visit of a Jewish emissary from the Holy Land to the United States. The visit of Rabbi Eleazar bar Joseph is unknown from any other source and this letter, including a derasha of Rabbi ben Joseph, illuminates an otherwise unknown episode in American Jewish history.

All lots may be viewed online in either e-catalog format or as a PDF of the printed catalog:

E-cat: http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/2014/important-judaica-n09239.html 
PDF:  http://www.sothebys.com/pdf/2014/N09239/index.html

Queries may be directed to : david.wachtel@sothebys.com

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