Winner’s Auctions and Exhibits is a branch of Judaica Jerusalem, the first auction house in Israel to host Judaica auctions on an international level. Based in Jerusalem, Winner’s brings over thirty years of experience to the table for consigners and is the preeminent source for expertise on Judaic material. They recently began having their auction records added to Rare Book Hub’s Rare Book Transaction History, and their future auctions will be included in our Upcoming Auctions. Today I’m previewing their next sale, Auction No. 94 of Rare Books & Manuscripts, Rabbinical letters, Zionism, Eretz Israel, Judaica objects & art, numismatics & archeology, which takes place July 19, 2016.
The term Judaica carries a huge amount of history with it. Auction No. 94 communicates that breadth with a very wide range of material spanning 400 lots. The sale is broken into many categories including Eretz Israel & Zionism; Posters and Periodicals; Anti-Semitism & Holocaust; Postcards, Photos and Bookplates; Maps, Travelogues and Archeology; Early Prints; Haggadot, Miniatures, Prayer Books and Psalms; Manuscripts; and Letters. There is something here for every collector of Judaica, be they established in their focus or just beginning to explore.
It’s something of a tradition for me to start auction previews by opening with the highest value item in the sale based on estimates. For Auction No. 94, this is lot 332, a unique manuscript of a court Jew entitled “Seder Birkat haMazon” (Grace After Meals), dating from circa 1740. With seventeen folio pages and four colored illustrations, this manuscript is a beautiful example of work done by scribes of court Jews in Central Europe at the beginning of the 18th century. This particular example was done by an exceptional talent and is similar to the work of the scribes Aaron Wolf Herlingen of Vienna and Meshulam Zimmel of Bohemia, both renowned for their work. The manuscript Grace After Meals is estimated $50,000-60,000.
For collectors of maps, lots 82 and 83 would make by themselves quite a collection. Seventeen maps are included in lot 82, with maps made in Venice, Cologne, Italy, Amsterdam, and Paris during the 16th and 18th centuries. Lot 83 is a collection of twenty-five items amassed by a single collector over several decades. The lot features an ancient map of Jerusalem from around 1570 as well as several from the 17th century. Lot 82 is estimated $1,200-1,500 and lot 83 $2,000-2,500.
I will admit that virtually everything I think I know about the Freemasons comes from Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code, which is to say I know nothing. Typically, the term Freemason makes me think of long dead American Presidents, not Israel. So I was surprised to see Freemason material in Auction No. 94’s catalog. Lots 13 through 15 are material once deemed secret and relate to the establishment of the Freemasons in Palestine (in the 1930s before Israel existed officially) as well as their bylaws and protocols. The material is very interesting—I had no idea the original source of the Freemasons is the builders of King Solomon’s First Temple! Estimates are very reasonable for the three items, ranging from $400-500 to $1,200-1,500.
One unfortunately cannot have a general Judaica auction without anti-Semitism and the Holocaust arising. The section dedicated to the subjects is not large, with fifteen lots, but includes several first editions of Anne Frank’s Diary for multiple languages and countries, three passports from the era (two of German Jews with the marked “J” in accordance with anti-Semitic laws and one of a Nazi officer who helped rescue Jews in Holland), and a woodcut leaf from 1493 depicting Jews burned at the stake.
With 400 lots detailed and described, the catalog is significant. Its size is doubly so because every description is provided twice, in Hebrew and English. With such a diverse spread of subjects, interested collectors will not regret taking the time to carefully peruse the catalog. Winner’s Auction No. 94 will take place July 19, 2015 at 5:30 PM (GMT +3) at their location 3 Shatner St. 1st Floor. Givat Shaul Jerusalem. For more information and to review the catalog online, please click here.