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

Impressive Torah Shield – France, 19th Century / Later Dedication from Algeria

Opening: $3,000
Sold for: $3,750
Including buyer's premium

Torah shield. [France, 19th century]. With a later dedication from Algeria.
Silver, cast and engraved (marked with French hallmarks: Minerva's head; initials JS within diamond – maker's or assayer's mark); partly gilded.
Impressive, particularly heavy and thick cartouche-shaped Torah shield, with rich foliate designs around the edges. A crown-shaped ornament tops the shield, while the bottom is adorned with a pair of marine creatures (dolphins?). Five bells are suspended from the bottom of shield (engraved, presumably non-original). Chain for hanging.
The quality of the shield seems to indicate that it was created in France in the 19th century. Presumably, the middle section was originally left blank, as is common in French shields from that period, and all the decorations and inscriptions were engraved in the mid-20th century, after the shield was brought to Algeria. Three similar shields, created by the famous Parisian silversmith Maurice Mayer (active between 1846-1870s), are held in the Consistoire collection in Paris (see below), and one can assume that they were known to the silversmith who produced the present shield.
Dedication (late) by R. Avraham son of Nissim Touboul, in memory of his parents, dated 1953. This may be Avraham Touboul of Oran, Algeria, born 1892, d. 1957; his father was named Nissim and his mother Yacots Benhaim (see enclosed material). Touboul presumably donated the present shield to the synagogue (together with a pair of finials – see following item), at which point the dedications were engraved on the items.
Height: 30 cm, with chain: 61 cm, width: 25 cm. Weight: 1.62 kg. Good condition.
Literature: Victor Klagsbald, Jewish Treasures from Paris, from the Collections of the Cluny Museum and the Consistoire (The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 1982), items 30, 40, 43.
See similar French shields: Kestenbaum, auction 63 (2014), lot 387; Sotheby's, Important Judaica, 19 December 2018, lot 133; J. Greenstein, Spring 2021 auction, lot 79.

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.

The following nine items (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