Rare Jewish manuscript from 1726 found in garage

Odd News
Rare Jewish manuscript from 1726 found in garage

A cardboard soup box in a Bury, England garage held an 18th century Jewish manuscript that is expected to sell for six figures. As reported by BBC News, interest for the book has come from the United States and Israel and the estimated value of the piece is £100,000–£150,000 (roughly $161,000–$242,000), but could be sold for much more when it goes up for auction at the end of November.

The discovery was made during a house clearance conducted after the passing of the Jewish couple that lived there. Bill Forrest of Adam Partridge Auctioneers made a field visit to valuate the antique items in the home and recalled, “There was this one very thin, fairly modest looking manuscript really sitting in there. I picked up, picked up that and started to leaf through it and realized actually this is quite a significant piece.” It was a 20-leaf Haggadah, a prayer book filled with scripture and songs used for Passover Seder, painted on goatskin vellum by Aaron Wolff Shreiber Herlingen and is thought to date back to 1726. Partridge said, “So if we look here it’s all hand written by the scribe Aaron Wolff and hand illuminated as well each little vignette.”

The manuscript found its way to England during World War II when it was smuggled out of Belgium by a family escaping the Nazis. "This family became slightly split up and various sides of the family weren’t talking to each other. Decades then ensued and these things get lost," Partridge explained. Rabbi Yehuda Brodie, of Manchester Beth Din told the BBC, "I think one of the fascinations of Haggadot is that the illustrations are very often not necessarily depicting what a Jew in Egypt would have looked like, but what a local Jew would have looked like and therefore you would get Haggadot which show very westernized Jews in the illustrations….I very much hope it finds a very good home, certainly ends up better than a soup box in a garage."

More information: BBC, Antiques Trade Gazette