The Kestenbaum & Company of New York is to sell at auction Fine Judaica: Hebrew Books, Manuscripts and Autograph Letters from the Collection of Nathan Lewis, Esq. on May 2nd. Jackie Insel, speaking on behalf of the auctioneers, describes the sale as important.
“This sale of nearly 400 lots represents in particular, the varied ways over the centuries that countries have been cartographically represented. Sale highlights include rare books, manuscripts and important letters consigned from illustrious rabbinic libraries including the Rivkin and Zuckerman families and the late Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchak Halevi Ruderman, founder and Rosh Yeshiva of Ner Israel Rabbinical College, Baltimore.”
The range of subjects offered include Americana, Anglo-Judaica, anti-Semitica, Bibles, Chassidic books, children’s books, Passover Hagadahs, Kabbalistic books, Holocaust-era related books, books relating to Jews in 19th and early 20th century China, a number of rare government pamphlets relating to Jews of early 18th century Germany, Zionist related books and Livres d’Artistes.
“An exceptional lot of American Judaica includes a large, visually striking illuminated Hebrew manuscript of the Book of Psalms, handwritten and illustrated by Morris Weinberg, Chicago, 1910-12. Using Hebrew calligraphy accompanied by explanatory folk illustrations, the artist designed a highly creative and captivating example of Jewish Americana. The pre-sale estimate for this lot  is $70,000-90,000.”
Other material of particular interest:
Penina Moise’s Hymns Written for the Service of the Hebrew Congregation Beth Elohim, Charleston, S.C., 1842, noteworthy as the first book of poetry published by a Jew in the United States and furthermore, that first person a Jewish woman. The pre-auction estimate is $8,000-10,000 (Lot 11). Additional American Judaic highlights include Mordecai Manuel Noah’s Discourse on the Restoration of the Jews, New York, 1845, estimated $3,000-5,000 (Lot 12), Uriah Phillips Levy’s Manual of Internal Rules and Regulations for Men-of-War, New York, 1862, estimated $1,200-1,800 (Lot 20) and an album of photographs inscribed by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and presented to U.S. President Harry S. Truman in 1958, estimated $2,000-2,500 (Lot 55).
Notable Bibles include a Renaissance-era pocket-sized Hebrew Bible, bound in eight volumes, printed by Estienne, Paris, 1543-46, estimated $12,000-15,000 (Lot 59); the Apparatus Sacer from the Antwerp Polyglot Bible including maps and engraved plates, 1572, estimated $8,000-10,000 (Lot 72); and a Hebrew Bible used throughout the 19th century in the courts of law in Prague to administer the oath to witnesses of the Jewish faith estimated at $3,000-5,000 (Lot 69). Of interest among Chassidic books is an early edition of Elimelech of Lizhensk’s classic.
Another rarity is the first Hebrew book printed in Fez, Morocco, the first book printed on the African continent in any language: Jacob ben Asher’s Yoreh De’ah, circa 1516-17. This book, for which no auction records are known, is estimated $40,000-60,000 (Lot 198).
Other important Rabbinic books include Jacob Emden’s Mor U’ketziah with his extensive autograph marginal notes and corrections, Altona, 1761-68, estimated $25,000-30,000; noted 17th century Polish Kabbalist Nathan Nata Shapiro’s Megaleh Amukoth, Cracow, 1637, estimated $12,000-18,000 (Lot 267); Nachmanides’ Peirush HaTorah, Pesaro, 1513-14, estimated $13,000-15,000 (Lot 247); Jacob Auspitz’s Be’er Haluchoth, the first Hebrew atlas featuring five hand-colored maps in Hebrew, Vienna, 1818 estimated $10,000-15,000 (Lot 308); and Judah ben Bezalel Loewe’s Chibur Nethivoth Olam, with an addition of three lines of handwritten text possibly by the MaHaRa’L, Prague, 1595-96 estimated $5,000-7,000 (Lot 221).
General interest texts include Swiss scholar and physician Johann Jacob Scheuchzer’s Physique Sacree, ou Histoire Naturelle de la Bible, in eight folio volumes, Amsterdam, 1732-37, estimated $12,000-15,000 (Lot 262); Bernard Picart’s six-volume set, Description of the Religious Duties, Manners and Customs of all the Nations of the World, Amsterdam, 1727-38, estimated $7,000-9,000 (Lot 261); Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud’s famous exchange on the root causes of war: Why War?, 1933, estimated $1,200-1,800 (Lot 110); the first edition of Benedict Spinoza’s highly influential philosophical work, Opera Posthuma, Amsterdam, 1677, estimated $3,000-5,000 (Lot 269); and a group of seven volumes relating to boxing and the career of the Anglo-Jewish boxer Daniel Mendoza, London, estimated $1,200-1,800 (Lot 274).