NEW YORK, NY.-
Kestenbaum & Companys upcoming auction features the legacies of two visionary book-collectors. Both of whom recently passed away and both will long be remembered for their unique contributions to Hebrew booklore.
The London-based Valmadonna Trust Library, comprising some 13,000 volumes, was built over more than half a century of prodigious pursuit by its Custodian and visionary, the late Mr. Jack V. Lunzer. In early 2017 the library was acquired by the National Library of Israel where it will be housed in a new landmark building in Jerusalem.
Twelve months ago some two hundred volumes were extracted from the Collection and presented by Kestenbaum & Company for auction sale. They have now been appointed to offer a further 130 Valmadonna volumes - from the earliest Hebrew printed books to unique copies printed on vellum or colored paper.
Aside from the great rarity of many of the lots, important to note is the extraordinary effort that was undertaken by the Custodian of the Valmadonna Trust in commissioning the restoration and subsequent exquisite rebinding, in the antique style, of practically each and every volume. The physical appearance of the books offered here for sale is thus quite sublime.
The final volume from the Valmadonna offering (Lot 130) is a spectacular 740-page manuscript Festival prayer-book, written on vellum in 1469, for the central synagogue of Ferrara. In 1989 this Machzor was one of just 50 volumes selected from the Valmadonna Trust Library for display by the distinguished Pierpont Morgan Library, New York.
The other historic collection of singular importance now brought for public auction is:
Hebrew Printing in America, 1735-1926 - this was the late Yosef Goldmans extraordinary contribution to Jewish history and bibliography.
Over a period of decades, Goldman, a bookman par-excellence, indefatigably consulted dozens of libraries in his quest to form his remarkably detailed two-volume Catalogue, comprehensively documenting Hebrew printing in America. Of the 1,208 entries that comprises the survey, some 85% came to reside in Goldmans personal library. This is the collection that will be offered for sale, as a complete single unit, designated here as Lot 210. It is by far, the single largest and most comprehensive holding of such material worldwide.
Kestenbaum & Company is particularly grateful to Ari Kinsberg for providing a learned descriptive summary of the Yosef Goldman Collection of Hebrew Printing in America which has been especially composed for the present auction-catalogue - a testament to Kinsbergs extensive involvement with this Herculean feat of scholarship and investigative book-gathering. Kinsbergs essay appears in the printed auction-catalogue alongside the lot description, while a more detailed and extended version appears via the online auction- catalogue accessible at www.Kestenbaum.net
Of further significant American interest are 35 lots (numbers 175-209), all stemming from Yosef Goldmans personal collection, comprising important Autograph Letters written by the leading figures of 18th- and 19th-century American Jewry, including: Solomon Nunes Carvalho, Warder Cresson, Rebecca Gratz, Bernard Illowy, Gershom Kursheedt, Isaac Leeser, Jacob Mordecai, Morris J. Raphall and Zalma Rehine. These letters have been researched and described especially for this auction-catalogue by the astute, independent scholar of American history, Shimon Steinmetz of Brooklyn, New York.
Elsewhere in the auction is a single lot (number 141) containing some 200 volumes from 200 towns and cities around the world, each of which is the first Hebrew imprint of that locale. The auction also contains a book of great value to Chassidism: The first edition of the Maggid Devarav LeYaakov by the Mezhritcher Maggid (Koretz, 1781); this copy with a signature purportedly by the Rhiziner Rebbe (Lot 136). Finally to be noted are important documents relating to the Holocaust (especially Lot 149) as well sections of Graphic and Ceremonial Art.