Auction 88 - Part I - Books, Manuscripts, Rabbinical Letters, Ceremonial Art

Algerian Chanukah Lamp Decorated with a LaMenatze'ach Menorah – For Protection of Home and Family

Opening: $500
Sold for: $2,375
Including buyer's premium

Chanukah lamp. Algeria, [ca. 1920s-1930s].
Sheet brass, repoussé, engraved and chased.
Algerian Chanukah lamp decorated with kabbalistic acronyms and verses which traditionally serve as protection for the home and family.
Backplate engraved with a seven-branch menorah, topped with the first verse of Psalm 67 – LaMenatze'ach, one of the holy names of G-d and various acronyms. The edges of the backplate, base and side panels are decorated with foliate designs. Scalloped edges. Hole for hanging.
The fonts in this lamp are unusually set on two symmetric staircases. The set of fonts (which appears to be original) is mounted into a slot in the backplate, similarly to the way the (removable) side panels and servant lamp are affixed.
Although there are Chanukah lamps in which the oil fonts are not arranged in a straight line, rather in circular or crescent formation (such as in lamps from India, Iraq, Turkey, Eretz Israel, Egypt and even North Africa), we did not find other examples of lamps with fonts set on steps, apart from one large Algerian wall Chanukah lamp, documented in the Center for Jewish Art, item 37399 (Bill Gross collection).
Height: 25 cm, width: 22.5 cm. Good condition.

Literature: Lights in the Atlas Mountains, Chaya Benjamin, p. 34.

Ceremonial Objects from the Collection of an Algerian Family

Algerian Jewry, one of the oldest and largest Jewish communities in Islamic countries, numbered at its peak some 130,000 Jews, most of whom left when Algeria gained its independence in 1962. The vast majority of Algerian Jews immigrated to France, while others moved to Israel.

Items 288-296 originate from the private collection of a rabbinic family in Western Algeria. Some of the items were found abandoned in Algerian synagogues following the mass exodus of its Jews, and were collected by the members of this family, whose descendants immigrated to France, and later to Israel.

Silver Hallmarks in French Algeria

Algeria, which was under French control from 1830 to 1962, became subject to French laws of silver crafting and silver hallmarks from 1838 (see: Tardy, pp. 29-30; 197-200).

Some of the silver items in the present collection bear French hallmarks, which for the most part appear to have been stamped by Algerian silversmiths or assayers in Algeria, already in the 19th century. Nonetheless, some items seem to have been produced in France, and stamped there before their import to Algeria.

The strong French connection along with the cultural diversity of Algerian Jewry (which comprises Jewish immigrants from Spain, Morocco, Italy and France), are well reflected in the present items, to the point that it is sometimes difficult to pinpoint whether, for instance, an item was produced in the workshop of a Jewish silversmith from Algeria, from Spanish Morocco, from the community of Tétouan Jews living in Oran (Algeria), from Libya or from France. Likewise, in some cases it is difficult to discern conclusively whether a specific item was marked before it was brought from France to Algeria during the 19th or early 20th century, after it was brought into Algeria, or perhaps decades later, when it was brought back to France during the 1960s.

We are grateful to Chaya Benjamin and Prof. Shalom Sabar for their assistance in cataloguing these items.

PLEASE NOTE: Item descriptions were shortened in translation. For further information, please refer to Hebrew text.

Jewish Ceremonial Art
Jewish Ceremonial Art