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Sotheby's New York announces sale of Important Judaica to be held on 19 December
Isidor Kaufmann, Rabbi with Young Student. Oil on panel. Est. $350/550,000. Photo: Sotheby's.

NEW YORK, NY.- Sotheby’s New York sale of Important Judaica on 19 December 2012 will offer examples of Hebrew ceremonial metalwork, illuminated manuscripts, early printed books, original decorative bindings and fine art. The auction, which presents works from across the globe, is led by A Magnificent Passover Haggadah, written and illustrated by Aaron Wolf Herlingen, from Vienna, 1730 (est. $800,000/1.2 million*). The sale also includes important paintings by Isidor Kaufmann, a silver section highlighted by a German Hanukah Lamp, and the Kagan-Maremba Coin and Medal Collection that will be sold on behalf of The Jewish Museum (est. $300/500,000). The sale will be exhibited in its entirety in our York Avenue galleries beginning 14 December, alongside the sale of Israeli & International Art.

Undoubtedly the highlight of the Books and Manuscripts section of the sale, The Herlingen Haggadah from 1730 is a magnificent example of the 18th century revival of Hebrew manuscript illumination that began in Vienna (est. $800,000/1.2 million). The scribe and artist of the manuscript is Aaron Wolff Herlingen, one of the finest Jewish calligraphers of the 18th century renaissance of Hebrew manuscripts, and who became the scribe of the Imperial Library in Vienna in 1736. Herlingen signed his name on the title page of the present work in four languages – Hebrew, Latin, German and French – a conspicuous demonstration of his facility in the multiple languages of the Austrian Empire. The present haggadah is one of Herlingen’s finest efforts and his consummate skill as a scribe is evidenced in the superbly written letters of the text and commentaries. His artistic mastery is demonstrated in the numerous illustrative and decorative elements within the manuscript. The work features three ornamented initial word panels and 60 text illustrations, as well as a detailed manuscript map appended by Herlingen specifically for this volume.

Another highlighted manuscript is An Extremely Rare and Important Early Mahzor, France, 13th century. Estimated at $180/240,000, the work contains the liturgy from Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Hanukkah, according to the French rite. Research shows that the present manuscript and a Mahzor for Rosh ha-Shanah currently in the collection of the British Library, were penned by the same scribe and originally constituted a single, larger work. This volume also may well be the most important extant source of the liturgical rite of medieval French Jewry, and includes several customs and traditions that are unknown from any other source.

Additional works on offer feature The First Haggadah Printed in America, which contains service for the first two nights of the Passover in Hebrew and English (est. $80/100,000), and an Important Decorated Esther Scroll in a Matching Contemporary Silver Case, circa 1800 (est. $70/90,000). Also included in the sale is Derekh Etz Heim (Path of the Tree of Life), an 18th century manuscript by Haim Vital of a kabbalistic masterwork (est. $60/80,000). This manuscript is the first part of Haim Vital’s authoritative summary of the kabbalistic teachings of his master, the preeminent kabbalist of 16th century Safed, Isaac Luria.

The highlight of the silver and metalwork on offer in the December auction is An Important German Silver-Gilt Hanukah Lamp made by Johann Valentin Schüler in Frankfurt, Germany circa 1690 (est. $300/500,000). The magnificent lamp belongs to a group of seven related examples from late-17th and early 18th century Frankfurt, most of which are preserved in museum collections – the example in the Steiglitz Collection at the Israel Museum is closest to the piece on offer. These lamps show the wealth of Frankfurt’s Jewish community, at a time when the city’s ghetto was one of the most densely populated in Europe. The sale also features two fine single-owner groupings, one of which includes a very early German silvergilt Havdalah Compendium, made in Augsburg circa 1630 (est. $30/50,000).

The fine art section in the auction is highlighted by two paintings by Isidor Kaufmann originally from the Collection of Oscar and Regina Gruss: Rabbi with a Young Student (est. $350/550,000) and The Kabbalist (est. $180/250,000), as well as two other portraits by Kaufmann.

The sale will also include the Kagan-Maremba Israel Coins and Medal Collection, sold on behalf of the Jewish Museum, New York to Benefit the Acquisitions Fund. Internationally renowned as the most important collection of the numismatic history of modern Israel ever assembled, the collection was formed by businessman, collector, publisher and philanthropist Arnold H. Kagan (est. $300/500,000). The group contains virtually every issue of the modern state of Israel up to 1996 and includes a variety of rarities, including the only known Palestine Currency Board, 1947 1 Mil in Proof, of which fewer than ten examples are known in any grade, as well as a rare 100 Pound note, of which less than half a dozen survive. The collection contains approximately 2,000 pieces and within the section of modern coins, not only are the series of regular issue and commemorative coins complete, but included are pattern and specimen issues, some of which are unique.

*estimates do not include buyer’s premium

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