Auction 94 Rare & Excellent Hebrew Printed Books: From the Library of Arthur A. Marx
Jun 17, 2021
 The Brooklyn Navy Yard, 141 Flushing Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11205

Post-Auction Report: Sale 94, June 17, 2021

    Kestenbaum & Company was privileged to again offer an auction comprising of premier Hebrew printed books. As it comprised of an especially remarkable single-owner collection of Hebrew printed books, this sale garnered high levels of interest and activity from hundreds of participants and spectators.

 Interest was spread across all categories of the literary categories on offer.

    In Biblical works, the beloved First Edition commentary to the Pentateuch, Kli Yakar, brought in $6,000 (Lot 140), beating its initial estimate of $3,000-4,000. A Zhitomir edition of Psalms garnered $7,500 (Lot 460) and the Vilna Gaon’s commentary to Mishlei fetched $7,500 (Lot 119). Midrashic works fared just as well, with a First Edition Mechilta realizing $12,000 (Lot 349) and a Second Edition Sifra- Torath Kohanim accomplishing $5,500 against an estimate of $1,000-$1,500 (Lot 353).

    Medieval Pietistic compositions proved exceedingly popular in this sale. The First Edition of Rabbeinu Yonah’s Sha’arei Teshuvah was hammered in at $40,000 (Lot 168) while the First Edition of Sepher HaChassidim achieved $16,000, against its estimate of $4,000-6,000 (Lot 226). The First Edition of Orchoth Tzaddikim sold for $6,500 (Lot 386) and two copies of Chovoth HaLevavoth both sold for more than twice their estimates (Lot 42 and Lot 43) testifying to the notable interest in this field.

    Liturgical works also fared well. An immaculate Basle prayerbook dating to 1579 brought in $50,000 (Lot 261) and a miniature set of Festival Prayers printed in Jerusalem fetched $11,000 (Lot 306). Perhaps the most impressive lot in the sale, the First Edition incunable of Abudarham, printed in Lisbon, 1489, was hammered in at $90,000 (Lot 7). Finally, a Selichoth printed at Slavita garnered $9,500- nine times more than its original estimate of $1,000-1,500 (Lot 301).

    Competitive bidding was also seen for classic Halakhic texts. The Bomberg Edition of Alfasi’s Rif- Sepher Halachoth sold for $34,000 (Lot 14) while Maimonides’ Mishnah Torah, printed with Joseph Karo’s Keseph Mishnah for the first time, achieved $15,000 (Lot 373). The First Editions of Israel Isserlein’s Terumath Hadeshen and Pesakim U’Kethavim brought in $5,500 (Lot 213). The First Edition of Solomon Luria’s Yam Shel Shlomo to Bava Kama garnered $3,400 (Lot 328) and Yom-Tov Lipmann Heller’s Ma’adnei Yom-Tov fetched $3,600 (Lot 194).

    In Kabbalah, the First Edition of the Zohar accomplished $20,000- five times its initial estimate (Lot 414). Likewise, the First Edition of Moses Cordovero’s Tomer Devorah realized $12,000 (Lot 101) and the esoteric Megaleh Amukoth was hammered in at $9,500 (Lot 425).

    More broadly focused works of Jewish Philosophy saw the First Edition of Shnei Luchot Haberith achieve $10,000 (Lot 195). The entirety of the Maharal of Prague’s First Edition works were snatched up (Lots 317-324), while RaMBaN’s Torat Ha’Adam brought in $13,000 (Lot 374). Both major historiographical texts in this sale were also accounted for- Moses Zacuto’s Sepher Yuchasin was sold for $32,000 (Lot 474) and Joseph Cohen’s Divrei Hayamim garnered $20,000 (Lot 475).

    We look forward to our next sale of Fine Judaica, which will take place in late July 2021. For further information, or any other queries, please contact us at 212-366-1197 or

The auction has ended

LOT 7:

Abudraham [commentary to the prayers].
FIRST EDITION. Printed in double ...

Sold for: $90,000
Start price:
$ 85,000
Estimated price:
$100,000 - $150,000
Auction house commission: 25%
sales tax: 8.875% On lot's price, no sales tax on commission

Abudraham [commentary to the prayers].

FIRST EDITION. Printed in double columns. First letter of opening page richly floriated and entire page within historiated metalcut border by Alfonso de Cordoba. With diagrams of the Temple altar in Jerusalem on ff. 23r. -24v. and calendric tables of “Moladoth” on ff. 134r., 137, 139v.-140r.
ff. (170) Scattered staining, few minor marginal repairs occasionally affecting individual letters, trace wormed, opening leaves dampstained, opening two leaves laid to size, final two leaves silked, occasional words censored, signed by censor at end. Modern blind-tooled calf, bookplate removed. Folio. Vinograd, Lisbon 4; Goff Heb-36; Goldstein 92; Offenberg 1; Steinschneider, p. 859, no. 4784, 1 “Expl. Perfectum Rariss.”; Thes. B19.
Lisbon: Eliezer (Toledano) 1489

THE SECOND BOOK PRINTED IN LISBON. An invaluable encyclopedia concerning the ritual customs of Spain, France, . Provence and Germany. David ben Joseph Abudraham of Seville wrote this liturgical commentary in. 1340. He was motivated to write the work in response to contemporary liturgical confusion: “The lengthy exile and intensive persecution have led to a variety of customs in different kingdoms so that most ordinary folk, when they offer their prayers to God, are ignorant about their meaning and have no understanding of the sense and structure of liturgical practices.” Abudraham’s work accordingly not only provides clear rules, but devotes much space to the reasons behind many customs, as well as commenting on the text of the prayers and piyutim. The work offers commentary to all daily, Sabbath, monthly, Festival and fast-day prayers, also provides guidance on lectionaries, the calendar, as well as an extensive treatise upon the various benedictions. See S. C. Reif, Judaism and Hebrew Prayer (1993) pp. 204-5. “Of all the [incunable] Hebrew presses that flourished in the Iberian Peninsula, that of Lisbon - the last of them all - was typographically the best equipped and most successful.” See J. Bloch, Early Hebrew Printing in Spain and Portugal (1938) pp. 32-3. The opening leaf of this first edition is especially rare and is lacking in many copies. Indeed, Brad Sabin Hill states, Catalogue of the the Jacob M. Lowy Collection, National Library of Canada (1981) no. 92 “this may be the only complete copy in the world.”