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

Pair of Torah Finials – North Africa – Dedication from 1891, in Memory of Abraham Abecasis

Opening: $2,000
Sold for: $2,500
Including buyer's premium

Pair of Torah finials. Algeria (or Morocco), [late 19th century], dedication dated 1891.
Silver, cast, pierced and engraved (body of finials apparently unmarked; tiny French hallmark on one bell); gilt.
Hexagonal, openwork body, in a foliate design, with bell-hung openings. The upper part of the finials is shaped like a crown, topped with a pineapple-shaped knop. Tall, hexagonal staves.
Identical dedication engraved on both staves, in memory of Abraham Abecasis, who passed away on Thursday, 25th Adar I 1891. The person in whose memory the finials were dedicated may have been a member of a Jewish family from Tétouan (Morocco), who lived in Oran (several hundred Jewish families from Tétouan fled to Oran following the outbreak of the Hispano-Moroccan war in 1859).
A similar pair of finials (with a dedication in similar typeface) from Tétouan, Morocco, is documented in the Center for Jewish Art, item 36930 (the Bill Gross collection). For additional information on this type of finials, see previous item.
Height: 42.5 cm. Fair condition. Some damage, breaks and bends, with unskilled soldering repairs. Lacking eight bells. Lacking two floral ornaments.

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