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 30:

<<(“The Chacham Tzvi.”)>> Shailoth U’Teshuvoth ...

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Sold for: $1,500
Start price:
$ 1,000
Estimated price:
$1,000 - $1,500
Auction house commission: 25%

<<(“The Chacham Tzvi.”)>> Shailoth U’Teshuvoth [responsa].

FIRST EDITION. Marginalia.
ff. (1), 127. Ex-library, previous owners’ inscriptions, stained in places, title remargined. Modern blind-tooled chestnut calf. Folio. Vinograd, Amsterdam 956.
Amsterdam: Solomon Proops 1712

R. Tzvi Hirsch Ashkenazi (1656-1718) was a leading rabbi in the early 18th century. Both Ashkenazim and Sephardim turned to him with their questions. Raised in the Ottoman Empire, he studied in the great Sephardic Yeshiva in Salonika and served as rabbi of Sarajevo. After his wife and child were killed during an Austrian invasion (see his introduction to this work), R. Ashkenazi made his way to Western Europe, where he would head the Yeshiva in Altona and become the Ashkenazic rabbi of Amsterdam. Towards the end of his life, he was appointed as rabbi of Lvov. His rabbinic fame is evident from his responsa. The sheer diversity of those writing to him is overwhelming. His command of an uncommonly broad range of rabbinic texts are clearly on display in this work. In addition to the usual gamut of topics found in responsa, he addresses Sabbateanism (no. 13), Spinozism (no. 18), the balance between Kabbalistic and ‘mainstream’ communal practices (no. 36) and irreligious community members (no. 38). The well-known ‘chicken heart debate’, which divided the Central European rabbinate, occupies a fair number of the 170 questions (nos. 74-81). For more on this eminent figure, see Yosie Levine’s doctoral dissertation, Hakham Zevi: An Intellectual Biography of an Early Modern Port Rabbi (New York 2020, unpublished).

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