Jonathan Greenstein, widely known as a dealer in rare, authentic Judaica, told Marketwatch that prices for antique menorahs and other items have doubled over the past few years. In a November auction, Greenstein sold a menorah created in the Ukraine in the 18th century for $100, 000.
“It’s all about rarity and aesthetics.” said Greenstein. “If it is gorgeous it will sell for a lot. If it is old, it will sell for a lot.” One reason these items are selling at such high prices is the rarity of them. During the Nazi era, Jews had to flee their homes without their possessions, and many of their valuable kiddush cups and menorahs that had been passed down through families for generations were melted down for silver. However, it isn’t just pre-war items that fetch high prices, but menorahs designed by contemporary artists can sometimes sell in the high four figures.
In an article for Huffington Post, Jonathan Greenstein wrote, “Antique judaica is the micro-niche in the art and antique world. With 15 million Jews in the world, believe it or not, there are only about 700 active collectors.”
Many of Greensteins queries come from emails, “I’ll receive emails that usually start with, ‘My grandfather came to New York in 1910 and he had this menorah with him. We don’t use it anymore. How much would it bring to auction.”
However, some items are also still used as well as serving as aesthetic or art objects. Isaac Pollack who works on the advisory committee for the New York Jewish Museum said, “I think of how many people lit them (menorahs) and how many hands they went through. It fascinates me.”