1166 The biblical tradition of the samaritans
2015 sold for $ 162k including premium
Yet, Jews and Samaritans have the same Pentateuch whose texts were certainly collected shortly before they broke. The similarity ends here. The Samaritan liturgy remained Mosaic by rejecting both the rabbinical system and any foreign influence, and the Samaritan script is very close to the Paleo-Hebrew.
The fall of the Kingdom of Israel had definitely ruined the political identification of the Samaritans but their ethnic and religious community, although weakened, survive.
On December 22 in New York, Sotheby's sells a Samaritan scroll, lot 1 in the first auction of the Valmadonna Trust Library. This manuscript 36 cm x 5.60 m consists of ten membranes for a total of 41 columns written in Samaritan majuscule script. The text covers the Genesis and the beginning of Exodus.
Old documents can be dated by the paleographic analysis and by the chronology of variations in vocabulary and spelling. The Samaritans were using colophons. The graphological analysis ensures that the scroll for sale was written by the same scribe who made another specimen whose date on the colophon corresponds to 1166 in our calendar, located at Sarepta in the land of Israel.
The manuscript is incomplete and the remaining parts have some misses and many replacements. In such a condition, this paleographic treasure is announced with a lower estimate of $ 40K.
1270 Inspection of a Sefer Torah
2015 SOLD for $ 310K including premium
This piece made during the thirteenth century of our calendar has deserved such a detailed analysis. At that time, the book or codex composed of an assembly of leaves already supersedes the scroll or sefer for the regular distribution of the Bible. The preparation and writing of a Sefer Torah however meet a strict ritual that is irreplaceable for its formal recitation by the rabbi because it refers to the understanding by the Jews of their original liturgical traditions.
The Torah for sale, 58 cm x 48 m, consists of 86 parchment membranes sewn edge to edge with a total of 257 columns. Four central membranes were replaced less than 400 years ago. The remaining edges of the adjacent membranes show a damage by an unidentified liquid, certainly an ancient act of anti-Jewish vandalism at a time when the document was in an open position.
Radiocarbon dating is applicable to such objects. The result indicates a writing around 1270 of our calendar. This date is fully consistent with the previous paleographic analyzes that had been carried out by comparison with dated Ashkenazi codices.
The multispectral imaging provides in this case an even greater progress. Beyond the perfection sought in its original execution, the scribes of the following centuries desired to modify the shape of the letters and some arrangements in the text to put the Torah in the norm of their time or for Kabbalistic reasons. The modern science separates the first writing and the additions and observes the traces of erasures, offering an appreciation of the successive states of the manuscript.
Later 13th century - As Moses wanted it
2009 SOLD 400 K$ including premium
There are two techniques to assemble the pages for editing a text on a flexible support. The only one that is common today is the paper book, where sheets are bound by one of their sides.
The practice of scroll is older, on papyrus or parchment. The Jews use it for three millennia to teach the Torah, meaning the word of Moses. A copy of this text is a Kabbalistic pretext for a search of perfection, and Maimonides, who was one of the most important philosophers of all times, contributed to the codification of the details of this rite. The preparation of a Torah scroll (Sefer Torah) took over a year, and its completion was the subject of a great festival for its presentation to the synagogue.
On November 24 in New York, Sotheby's will sell an early Sefer Torah of northern Spain, typical of the calligraphy in use at the time of Shem-Tov ben Abraham ibn Gaon, a follower and commentator of Maimonides who lived in the late thirteenth century of our calendar.
The book is complete, written in black ink on gevil, a preparation providing a brown color to the parchment. The scroll of 58cm high is including 48 pages for a total of 221 columns by 47 lines each and a length of 36.65 m. Let's be clear: the wikipedia says that a valid Sefer Torah must include 304805 letters (no less, no more).
This exceptional copy is estimated $ 300K.
POST SALE COMMENT
Sold 400 K$ including premium. That's good. This scroll is exceptional for its age, its care for rules and traditions, its condition, and its witnessing from very long time ago, before the Jews were expelled from Spain.
< 1349 the castilian team
On December 20 in New York, Sotheby's sells a complete Hebrew Bible of great luxury assembled as a codex of 476 folios, lot 191 estimated $ 3,5M.
About one working year had been required for its multi-disciplinary team, from the parchment preparer to the binder. The main scribe writes the text while leaving blank the necessary surface for illuminations and marginal notes. The vowels are added by other scribes with another ink color in a thinner line. A controller ensures the conformance of the text sequence.
The parchment is very bright and regular. The writing is by the same hand throughout the book, unlike the mostly non-figurative illuminations that differ according to the texts. The binding is later.
The features of this book, including its almost square format 24 x 19 cm and the layout of most texts in two columns per page, allow to attribute it to the Castilian workshops in the first half of the fourteenth century. The Islamic influence of some ornaments confirms that the ecumenism of King Alfonso was not lost at that time. This dating is consistent with the year 5127 (1366 CE) inscribed on one page by an early owner.
Please watch through this link the slideshow shared by Sotheby's explaining the characteristics of this magnificent Bible and listing the involved professions. Please also watch here below the video shared by Sotheby's.
The earliest-known complete illuminated Hebrew Bible from Spain to ever appear at auction headlines our sale of Important Judaica on 20 December in #NYC. Click ahead to learn more about this remarkable testament from the Golden Age of medieval Spain: https://t.co/TrtpMJcvGN pic.twitter.com/IT0glZfGWM— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) December 6, 2017
1457-1465 An Illuminated Torah
Maimonides is recognized as the greatest thinker of medieval Judaism. One of his main contributions was to provide a written version of the Torah, meaning the Law. Prepared in fourteen books in Hebrew, this monumental work entitledMishneh Torah (repetition of the Torah) is still used as a reference today.
Two and a half centuries after his death, a beautifully illuminated manuscript copy of the Mishneh Torah was carried out by an Italian workshop. It is dated between 1457 and 1465, a time when Christian book craftsmen already feltthreatened by the progress of the printing press and were accepting new customers. The scribe of the text was a Jew.
Identified as the Frankfurt Mishneh Torah after a long stay in the Jewish community of that city, the work was bound intwo volumes which were separated in the nineteenth century. The first part has become one of the most outstanding pieces of the Hebrew section of the Vatican Library.
The second part was presented to the press in 2010 after being restored by a laboratory of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. It is shown at the top and bottom of the page shared by Vos Iz Neias at that time.
Containing books VII to XIV of the Mishneh Torah, this volume is illustrated with six large and 32 smaller images in splendid colors. It is estimated $ 4.5 million, for sale by Sotheby's in New York on April 29.
POST SALE COMMENT
The manuscript was purchased before the auction jointly by the Israel Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
1564 Estellina's Scroll
2009 SOLD 600 K$ including premium
The Book of Esther, which is one of the historical books of the Old Testament, tells how the devotion and courage of a young woman helped save the Jews threatened of massacre under the rule of the Persians. The context of the story is a court intrigue. This nice legend became a political symbol of the liberation of the Jewish people.
This book is read in the synagogue during the feast of Purim, which takes place just before spring. Women are invited to listen and to glorify Esther as a model of morality.
Depending on the time and according to interpretations of liturgists, they could do even more: a woman from Venice, named Estellina, signed the scroll of Esther for sale by Sotheby's on November 24 in New York.
The Hebrew text is framed by arches preciously illuminated in colors with caryatids, satyrs, human and animal faces, and fruits. The 24 columns extending horizontally are assembled as a roll mounted on a turned wood handle. This work 1.90 m long and 35 cm high is dated 3 Adar 5324, a few days before Purim.
The image of this very valuable and rare object, estimated 600 K$, is shared by AuctionPublicity.
I endeavour when I can to provide the dates in the calendar that was applicable when the work was created. For my first use of the Hebrew calendar, I'm willing to translate: February 15, 1564.
POST SALE COMMENT
This scroll is both an art object and an interesting and ancient witness of Jewish liturgy. It is rewarded with a good price, just below the estimate, at 600 K$ including premium. I remind that the estimates never include fees.
1710 Liturgical Silverware in the Frankfurt Ghetto
European cities had different practices to persecute Jews. The ghetto is both a severe constraint calling for bullying and a protection by a total isolation. The Jewish ghetto of Frankfurt was able to take advantage of its closedness to maintain a real prosperity at certain times.
This explains why the lamps of the Jewish liturgy of Frankfurt are among the finest Baroque silverware. Their goldsmiths were Christians because Jews were not allowed in their guild.
On April 29 in New York, Sotheby's sells a hanging lamp for the Sabbath, exceptionally tall, 96 cm overall. OfJudenstern type, it consists in three parts with a central tank. It is adorned with many Jewish symbols and decorative motifs.
The main part bears the mark of Johann Adam Boller, master in 1706. It is dated circa 1710, and so would havesurvived the Great Fire of 1711. Some other parts are later.
Coming from the prestigious Steinhardt collection, this very rare lamp is estimated $ 800K. Here is the link to the catalog.
POST SALE COMMENT
Too expensive for a composite piece: unsold.
In the same sale, a crown of Torah in parcel-gilt silver made in Venice circa 1740-1750 was sold for $860K including premium over a lower estimate of $ 300K.
1761-1763 A Silver Sabbath Lamp
The Judaica sale of Sotheby's in New York on December 17 includes at Lot 113 a silver Sabbath lamp made in Augsburg in 1761-1763.
It is a hanging lamp, so an object whose use is similar to the chandeliers.
From its press release of September 8 announcing major sales of end of the year in New York, the auction house insisted on the importance of this piece. It is of the so-called Judenstern form, much more common in brass that in silver. This term describes the star sketch of its four oil fonts. It is relatively high for a piece of silverware (70 cm) and its multi-baluster shape is intricated. It is carved of motifs of flowers and putti.
This lamp made for religious use bears the inscription of presentation of a Jewish dignitary of the court of the prince-bishops of Augsburg. The silversmith is named Gottfried Barterman.
It is estimated 600 K $.
1892-1901 The Odessa Skeleton
2013 SOLD 365 K$ including premium
Michael and Judy Steinhardt endeavoured to gather significant pieces of the Jewish religious culture. They especially selected works of exceptional quality, sometimes of breathtaking originality, without restrictions on the techniques.Their collection is completed. It will be dispersed on April 29 in New York by Sotheby's.
Israel Dov-Ber-Rouchomovsky was a goldsmith at Mozyr near Minsk, poor and self-educated. He demonstrated his skill in helping a colleague to make a miniature golden skeleton. His capability was so great that he attracted a forger who provided him with sketches to make the tiara of the Scythian king.
The real target of the forger was the Louvre, who acquired the tiara for France and exhibited it from 1896 to 1903.Rouchomovsky was shocked to learn that his work made in 1894 had become a prestigious antiquity. Invited to go to Paris, he was able to demonstrate that he was the maker.
Going a few years back. In 1892, he wanted to make another skeleton even more beautiful than the first one and now fully articulated, just for his fun like Cheval building his ideal palace. 9 cm high, this masterpiece completed in 1896 in Odessa is an assembly of 167 gold bones weighing 22 g overall.
He decided then to provide a coffin to his skeleton. He also spanned five years, from 1896 to 1901, to achieve this piece of silver padded with textile. The panels are completely covered with allegorical scenes on the themes of life and death in a carving of extreme delicacy.
Exhibited in Paris just after the revelation of the secret of the tiara, the skeleton and coffin stayed together. Sold as a single lot for 600,000 florins including premium at Christie's on November 24, 1998, this set is now estimated $ 150K. It is always difficult to assess in advance the true value of such an unusual object. Here is the link to the catalog.
POST SALE COMMENT
Sold $ 365K including premium, this candid and macabre lot exceeded its higher estimate.