Auction 98 Auction of Fine Judaica
By Kestenbaum & Company
Jun 16, 2022
The Brooklyn Navy Yard Building 77, 141 Flushing Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11205, United States

The auction has ended

LOT 50:

Document Affirming the Will and Testament of Nissim ...

Sold for: $950
Start price:
$ 500
Estimated price :
$1,000 - $1,500
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sales tax: 8.875% On the full lot's price and commission

Document Affirming the Will and Testament of Nissim Joseph Ezra, to be Executed by Brother David Joseph Ezra. Witnessed by Moses Dueck Cohen and Aaron Shalome Gabbai.


One page, folded. Fading ink.

Fort William, Calcutta: May 5th, 1856

The document, written in the voice of Moses Dueck Cohen, affirms that he and Gabbai witnessed Nissim Joseph Ezra’s will being written in Hebrew on the sixth of Nissan 5616 (April 11th, 1856). Dueck further confirms that the will appoints David Joseph Ezra as the executor of Nissim’s estate. The record was affirmed by Commissioner C. Owen on May 5th, 1856, and signed by a British registrar on June 16th, 1864.

David Joseph Ezra (1796-1882) and Moses Dweck Cohen were among the most important Jewish businessmen in India in the mid-19th century. Both of them born in Baghdad, they independently used their business acumen to accrue vast fortunes.

David Joseph Ezra exported indigo, silk and rice to the Middle East and beyond. He left behind an expansive architectural legacy in Calcutta, including the Esplanade Mansions, Ezra Mansions and Beth El synagogue. A street is named for him in Calcutta to this day.

Moses Dueck Cohen was the son-in-law of Shalom Aaron Obadiah Cohen, the first recorded Jew to reside in Calcutta. He published the first Jewish newspaper in India, and authored the work Kneh Middah.

Nissim Joseph Ezra (1800-56) arrived in India with his father Joseph and brother David. He soon moved on to Singapore where he earned his own fortune. He passed away in the care of his brother David in Calcutta.

Aaron Shalome Gabbai (d. 1888) was another member of the Baghdadi-Jewish elite in Calcutta. He prospered off of the opium trade between China and India.