A morning at Sotheby's or what I would buy if I had an extra $40 million kicking around

These two images are from an astounding collection of mostly printed Judaica that is for sale at Sotheby's. http://www.sothebys.com/ The sale is taking place this Thursday.

Jack Lunzer a dealer in industrial diamonds amassed this collection that chronicles the history of the printing of Jewish books.

Sotheby's arranged this massive collection partially on shelves organized by city of printing with shelves reaching up to the 20 foot ceilings. The exhibit sort of replicates the sense one has seeing these books in the home of their collector. I went to the exhibit partially just for the pleasure of seeing and also because I have an invitation commission. The invitations is to have the look of old Jewish illuminated manuscripts. I had worked out a couple of decorative elements. I wanted to be sure that I was on the right track.

As I wandered through, I looked at old Haggadot, volumes of the Talmud, broadsheets and was sort of delighted to see that the inexpensive student editions of the Talmud I had used when in high school worked really hard to replicate the look of the earliest printed editions of the Talmuds an homage to their sources.

One of my favorite items on display was a printed page that ended with an elaborate interlaced printer's cartouche. Just to the side of it, one of the owners of the book attempted a simplified version of that design. But below the cartouche a child very crudely attempted their version with a pointed nibbed pen. I could just hear that child's mother yelling at her kid centuries ago. It just made me laugh.

I especially loved the manuscripts in the back room.I was gratified to see that the designs that I had doodled out for my client were all well represented in work from the 1500's and the 1700's. I also felt so comforted seeing that some of the calligraphy and embellishments were no better, and sometimes less skilled than my work. It made me feel very connected to generations and generations of Jews trying to do the best that they can.

If you are here in New York this week, go to Sotheby's. If not, you can download the brochure for the sale.


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