Rare ark form Hanukkah lamp sells for $314,000 in Skinner’s Fine Judaica Auction

Polish Silver Hanukkah Lamp, early 19th century, maker's mark partially obscured, backplate of engraved pierced work of birds and animals amidst scrolling vines and centered by lions bearing a menorah, set on gold-washed background, with wirework filigree sides and gallery, lion-form fonts, (lacking one servant lamp, minor damage), ht. 10 1/2 inches. Provence: Parke-Bernet, lot 92; illustrated Hebraica, pl. XIX. Estimated at $12,000-$18,0000. Sold for $142,200. All images courtesy Skinner Inc.

BOSTON— Skinner, one of the nation’s leading auction houses for antiques and fine art, announced its recent sale of Fine Judaica – held in its Boston gallery May 21 – was a tremendous success, more than tripling the presale estimate and grossing more than $1.2 million for just over 200 lots of antique and artisan Judaica.

The top lot in the sale was a rare and important silver and silver gilt Synagogue Ark-form Hanukkah Lamp, originating in Brody (Galicia), and dated 1787. Auctioned for an astounding $314,000 (including buyer’s premium), against a presale estimate of $60,000-$80,000, this lot and 50 others in the auction were formerly in the Salomon collection, and not seen in the marketplace since sold at auction at the Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York in 1949. From the late 1920s through the 1940s the lamp was illustrated in numerous books, publications and articles.

"The success of this lot demonstrates that exceptional and rare material presented at auction finds a very strong bidding audience in any economy, notes Kerry Shrives, Skinner’s Director of Fine Judaica, “but this is especially true in more turbulent times as people turn to tangibles as a hedge against uncertain financial markets.” Shrives adds, “Collectors are always in search of material that is fresh-to-the-marketplace and has great provenance. The robust prices overall at this auction reflect that sentiment."

Other lots that brought big prices include: a Russian silver Temple-form Hanukkah Lamp from Kiev estimated at $10,000-$15,000, but sold for $189,600; a Polish silver Hanukkah Lamp from the early 19th century estimated at $12,000-$18,000, went for $142,200; and a Polish Torah Crown, probably circa 1840, sold for $65,175 well over its $10,000-$15,000 estimate.

Broadly described as the material culture of the Jewish people, Judaica objects have cultural or religious significance, whether made for the marketplace or for the synagogue. Skinner’s department director Kerry Shrives is the only Judaica expert on the PBS-TV series Antiques Roadshow, and Skinner is the only auction house outside of New York to specialize in Judaica.

For more information, visit Skinner’s Web site at www.skinnerinc.com.

More Images:

Fine Polish Silver Torah Crown, probably c. 1840, bearing only French swan import mark, openwork design of staves heavily cast and chased and mounted throughout with stags, lions, birds, fruit, and flowers, bells suspended from leaftip, engraved townscapes to top, (losses), ht. 13 1/4 inches. Estimated at $10,000-15,000. Sold for $65,175.
Silver-gilt Torah Breast Plate, attributed to Georg Kahlert the Younger (ac. 1732-1773), Breslau, marked to perimeter with Russian kokoshnik mark 1896-1917, and Cyrillic maker's mark, arched form with the figures of Moses and Aaron flanking the tablets, within borders of stylized banding and foliage, the base with naturalistic detail and cartouches inscribed in Hebrew, (extensive repairs), ht. 16 inches. Estimated at $6,000-$8,000. Sold for $50,363.

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