I have two candlesticks given to us by an aunt years ago that she claimed belonged to her parents, pre-Holocaust. Can you tell me anything about them? Thank you.
Boca Raton, FL
I normally do not appraise objects that are secular in nature that have been adapted for Jewish use. However, since I receive inquiries like yours about “Shabbos candlesticks” quite often, I will make an exception. Based on the hallmarks you sent me (a photo that read “Hand Chased Sterling”), these candlesticks were made in the USA. Looking at the quality of workmanship and decoration, I agree with your family history that they were made before the war, likely no earlier than the 1920s. In today’s general marketplace, as a non-Judaic item, your candlesticks would sell for about $500.
I enjoy your column very much in The Jewish Press. I have three items you may find interesting. The first is a large, bound volume of pictures of Jewish life in Germany.
The second is a bound volume of [one full year of] a children’s weekly magazine that was published in the city of Lubavitch. It’s called Ha’Ach. The third is a silver amulet with writing on it commemorating the birth and death of my grandfather’s parents (I think). I am attaching separate pictures of each for your convenience.
Dr. Manny Greenberg
First, thank you for your compliment, I appreciate it. You may have noticed I specifically mention in my bio and advertisement that I appraise old Jewish objects, which means no paper material. However, since I have been immersed in this field for 25 years, I do pick up bits of knowledge in this area, which I will now share. Your book on pictures of Jewish life in Germany is thought to be the most popular illustrated Jewish book ever sold in Germany, as it had numerous print runs spanning across decades from about 1882 through the 1920s. What you have contains reproductions of the artist Moritz Oppenheim (1880-82), detailing his scenes of Jewish life in Germany, such as a wedding, a family eating a Shabbos meal, etc. With books/paper items, condition is extremely important in regards to value. In beautiful condition, your book would sell for between $500 and $700 today. However, from the photos you sent me, there is significant wear and chipping to the covers, so the value decreases significantly – by at least half.
For your Lubavitch item, which was published in 1911 in St. Petersburg for the Achei Temimim youth organization found in schools across Russia, it contained Chassidic stories, biographies, poems, and riddles. I was able to locate an identical bound volume that appeared at auction in 2013 with an estimate of $1,000-$1,500 which failed to sell – which is telling, as anything Lubavitch appearing at auction tends to sell, and sell well, and this did not. From the photo you sent me, there are severe brown stains, tears, and chipping to the pages. I surmise that if you could find the right person, you could sell your example for about $200.
As for your third item, which you describe as an amulet, I do not believe its use was as an amulet, but rather as a piece of jewelry for a keepsake/memento of sorts. What I like most about it is the lovely Hebrew engraving, which includes memorial dates of 1929 and 1930. This type of engraving is without question of the period and was not made after 1945. Value: $200-$250.
Can you tell us what this piece of Judaica was used for? What is its value? Thank you.
R & M
West Hempstead, NY
Dear R & M,
What you have is a lidded brass bowl that was made by the Zel-Zion company in Israel during the 1950s. The purpose of the bowl is to hold jewelry or for candy on a coffee table. It is well made and has a lovely depiction of the Biblical scene of Rivka giving Eliezer water from a well. While your item is not actually Judaica, as it has no ceremonial purpose, it is a collectible piece of “Israeliana.” Value: $50-$75.
Hi Mr. Kaplan,
Could you please tell me what this object is? It is stamped on the bottom “925.” It is three inches long. The covers are hinged and there is a separation inside. I bought it secondhand from a Judaica dealer for its weight.
What you have is a sterling silver box whose purpose is to hold pills or snuff (tobacco). The lid is engraved with two scenes of Israel: The Western Wall and Rachel’s Tomb. There is a tradition in Israel dating back to the 19th century in the city of Tzfat to decorate silver snuff boxes in this manner. Your box, however, is a modern piece, but attractive nonetheless. Value: $75-$125.
I enjoy your column in The Jewish Press. I have this wonderful seder/matzah plate from my grandparents. I think they purchased it in England many years ago. I did Google it a while back but was wondering about your thoughts on this item. Thanks.
First, thank you for your compliment. Your Passover plate for eating off (it is not a seder/matzah tray) is a well-known piece of English Judaica. It was made by Ridgway, which was a ceramics factory in Staffordshire, England. The plate was available for sale by each of two London retailers, Bardiger and Tepper. Tepper and Bardiger were Ukrainian Jews who immigrated to London and set up shops well known for, among other things, beautiful Passover china. These plates are always found stamped with makers’ marks on the reverse that state the names Ridgway, Bardiger, or Tepper. In nice condition with no cracks or rim chips, your plate has a value of $75-$125.
This silver box is one of the pieces I love. The top comes off and that is where you put the besamim in. As you can see from the pictures, it is about five inches tall with a working, moveable windmill. The inscription on the bottom (as shown in the photo) reads “Ben Zion – Sterling – Israel.” I would love to hear anything you might know about the piece, i.e., when it was created and approximate value. Many thanks.
Your spice box for the Sabbath was made in Israel during the 1960s or 70s. In perfect condition with no damage or repairs, other examples identical to yours sell in today’s market in the range of $150-$250.