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

Two Torah Finials – North-Africa, 19th Century – Dedicated by the Porat and HaKohen Families / Made by Shalom Djian

Opening: $500
Sold for: $1,063
Including buyer's premium

Two Torah finials (not a pair). Algeria / Libya, [19th century].
Silver, cast, pierced and engraved.
The two finials don't form a pair, but share the same design.
Each finial is topped with a dome, surmounted by a stylized ornament. Three-tier, hexagonal openwork body, with alternate foliate and menorah forms; arched openings in middle tier with hooks for bells (bells missing). Cylindrical staves topped with a bell-hung goblet.
1. Dedication engraved on the facets of the middle tier (Hebrew): "Silver finials donated by the brothers R. Yitzchak and R. David HaKohen in memory of their father R. Yosef HaKohen, by the artist Shalom Djian". The year of production is also engraved on the shaft: 1868. Marked with tiny French hallmark (not identified). The finial or silversmith may originate from Libya. Height: 35 cm. Good condition. Lacking bells.
2. Dedication engraved on the facets of the lower tier: "Silver finials donated by Yosef Porat in memory of his mother". With tiny French hallmarks (initials CD within diamond – maker's or assayer's mark). Height: 38 cm. Good condition. Missing bells.

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 (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