Miniature Book News # 59: 1988 December Page: 1
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MINIATURE BOOK NEWS
Number 59 16 Dromara Rd., St. Louis, Mo. 63124 December, 1988
The largest assemblege of miniature
Hebrew books ever to come up for auction
is scheduled to be sold at Sotheby's
in New York on December 12, 1988.
Marc M. Epstein, head of the Judaica
Books and Manuscripts Department at
Sotheby's writes us in part as follows:
The collection is the property of various
owners, including an important private
collector and the Estate of the late Jacob
Schulman. It is an extremely fine
assemblage of 59 books and manuscripts,
some quite rare, and all extremely
beautiful and interesting. It forms one of
the centerpieces of our December 12,
The Hebrew miniatures rank with other
extraordinary pieces because they are
very fine and very rare. Miniature
Hebrew books owe their origins not to
any mere conceit on the part of printers,
but to the real need to conceal books during
persecutions throughout history.
From the miniature prayerbooks written
by Marranos seeking to conceal their
identities from the Inquisition to the
miniature Psalms Anatoly Scharansky
kept with him in a Soviet Prison, and
which he kept in spite of the fact that it
earned him mistreatment and denial of
food, miniature books have been an important
part of the Jewish heritage due to
historical circumstances, an inspiration
and source of spiritual succor. The finest
book in the group is a manuscript prayerbook
according to the Sefardic rite from
Spain or Portugal c. 1450-70. An extremely
fine example of a miniature
Hebrew illuminated manuscript, it was
originally in the collection of David
Solomon Sassoon, and is expected to
achieve an extremely high price.
The sizes of these book and manuscript
items range from around 4 inches in
height to the smallest at about one inch,
with about half of the offerings at about 3
inches and less. However, most can be
considered true miniatures because of
their nature, purpose and/or rarety.
Some of the more unusual ones are
briefly noted here, with descriptions from
the Sotheby catalogue. Since it now appears
that this issue of MBN will come
out after the auction date, we will report
some of the results in the next MBN.
A complete Hebrew Bible in miniature, at right, shown actual size (. 8 x 1.2 inches). At
left is the book's silver-plated brass presentation cover, 19th century, with inset
magnifying glass. This book and cover were items in lot 87 of the December 12, 1998
sale at Sotheby's in New York. See accompanying article for more details.
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Edison, Julian I. Miniature Book News # 59: 1988 December, periodical, 1988; St. Louis, Missouri. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc9436/m1/1/: accessed January 17, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Rare Book and Texana Collections.