Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Two Megillot Esther

Purim is just two days past and apropo a bookseller on the bibliophile list is trying to value a Megillat Ether. The range of values is vast, from a few hundred dollars up to the stratospheric. I have reproduced the illustrations from Christies Amsterdam's auction of Tuesday 16, May 2000 of a fine Megillat Ether with a stunning handle and case. The pre-sale estimate was $320,000-$440,000. The illustrations above show 1) the full case and handle 2) a detail of the handle and base of the casing 3) a detail from the front of the casing with the tablets with the ten commandments and 4) two columns from the manuscript showing the section from chapter nine with the names of Haman's sons and the text following. I wouldn't mind spending some more time at this end of the Judaica pool.
Despite the incredible workmanship and the provenance the auctioneer was only able to make a claim that the Megillah and the case are Italian in origin and likely from either Rome or Venice. They date the scroll to the 17th century based on another object similar to the case (but with a scroll that does not match and is clearly later and lesser in quality.

I have my own humble Megillat Esther shown above. The first image show the scroll rolled up. No case. No handle. Below is the version of the column with Haman's sons. This scroll was given to me as a gift by a German Holocaust survivor. It was brought out of Germany. From the vague provenance that I have I can say that the scroll is at least a century old. If it is a German scroll it is likely at least another fifty years old. If it has an Eastern European origin it could be older than a century but there isn't much to demand that assumption. As an item in my own personal library I don't really need to place a value on the scroll, but a casual guess would be in the range of $500-$1000. I will never know what it is really "worth." I have no intention of letting it go for money.