Monday, September 29, 2008

Judaic Auction: Greenstein & Co. Offers Judaica in New York Nov 10, 2008

Judaic Auction: Greenstein & Co. Offers Judaica Auction in New York November 10, 2008
By Samuel D. Gruber

(ISJM) On Monday, November 10th, J. Greenstein & Co.’s auction house will host an extensive auction devoted to Judaica at New York’s Radisson Martinique Hotel at 5:30pm. The auction features more than 100 ceremonial objects, mostly from Europe, including menorahs, Kiddush cups, silver torah ornaments, spice boxes, paintings and much more. For those unable to attend the auction, pre-sale bidding and phone bidding will be offered. All items are illustrated in small photos in the on-line catalog.

When I see an array of beautiful and rare Judaica objects such as those assembled for this auction, I cannot help but wonder about the provenance of these pieces, and their rich and diverse histories. How many hands have they passed through over the centuries? What Jewish individuals, households, synagogues, cities and societies did they adorn? That this auction should come on the heels of the Kristallnacht anniversary only adds poignancy to this event. Still, that anything of beauty and value survived the wreckage of European Jewish society 70 years ago is miraculous. The remarkable task of re-assembling the beauty and holiness of Jewish history and culture is one of the great achievements of Judaism in our time. And the tradition of Judaica collections is an old one, as the history of collectors donating valuable pieces for public use [I'm thinking, for example, of the case of Alexander David of Braunschweig (1687-1765), as described by Ralf Busch in V. Mann & R. Cohen, eds, From Court Jews to the Rothschilds (Prestel, 1996)]

The auction also features many fine objects from North Africa and the Middle East , as well as Bezalel School pieces and several American Arts and Crafts works.

According to Jonathan Greenstein, who has organized the auction, highlights include an important silver Torah shield made in Brunn in 1814 (est. $30,000-50,000); a rare silver and large silver filigree spice holder from 18th century Lemberg (Est. $22,000 – 30,000) and a magnificent set of three silver Kiddush cups made by J. Rimonim in Fuerth, Germany, c. 1760. Also included is one of the most exceptional silver menorahs to appear at auction in years, the famed 18th century silver Jewish Maker menorah (photo above), featured in Jay Weinstein’s book. Other items include various handmade silver Kiddush cups (starting at $3,500), Sabbath Candlesticks and Candelabras (starting at $3,000), sterling silver menorahs (starting at $3,000), Works featured in the auction date back to the 18th century and have been gathered from various long time collectors in New York, London, Chicago and Belgium.

The selections should excite the large and active community of Judaica collectors and will also attract the attention of the many Jewish museums in America and abroad that have proliferated in recent years – often with buildings more impressive than their collections. With the weak US dollar I suspect that many of these pieces will be repatriated to their countries of origin. Unfortunately, when many of these items are purchased they will disappear from public view for many years. So, this is a chance to see some fine pieces, mostly little known. Fortunately, Greenstein & Co. has published a well illustrated catalogue.

J. Greenstein & Co.,, auction house was founded by Jonathan Greenstein in 2004. The Company’s biannual auctions feature rare Jewish ritual objects, works of art, books and manuscripts. The auction is not limited only to those in attendance; it is open for phone bidding and purchase beforehand. For more information check the website.

No comments: