The Auction is scheduled for December 17.
Sotheby’s in New York will handle the sale of the items in an auction lot titled SASSOON: A Golden Legacy.
The items for sale include two silver Torah breast plates from the 18th century. Sotheby’s describes these as “superb jewel-like works of art” which represent “the most important pieces of Judaic metalwork to appear at auction in a generation.”
The plates, made by Elimelekh Tzoref of Stanislav a Jewish silversmith, are intricately engraved, depicting the carved wooden Torah arks of eastern European synagogues. On the back of one is a highly detailed plan of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
They were probably made in Lemberg (Lviv) in Ukraine, and are estimated to fetch up to $900,000 each.
There will also be a number of books and manuscripts offered at the auction. These include a Siddur, or daily prayer book, owned and annotated by Rabbi Joseph Hayyim of Baghdad, who died in 1909
The personal items in the sale reflect the “tastes, luxurious lifestyles and the international range of this legendary family”, Sotheby’s said.
A Jewish marriage contract known as a ketubbah between Reuben David Sassoon and Catherine Ezekial. The couple came from two of the greatest Baghdadi merchant families in India. The Ketubah has an estimated value of $10,000-$20,000. A magnificent silk robe worn at another Sassoon wedding and a signet ring are also for sale.
“The pieces in this sale are not just the personal holdings of one of the world’s great Jewish families, they are significant works of art, and tell an important story of Jewish patronage, collecting and scholarship,” said John Ward of Sotheby’s in New York,
SASSOON: A Golden Legacy, Judaica and family memorabilia from the legendary “Rothschilds of the East.”
With roots in Baghdad, the Sassoons relocated in the 1830s to India, led by their patriarch David Sassoon who established Bombay as the seat of his vast trade empire. He went on to open branches of his company in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Rangoon and played a key role in the industrialization of the Far East.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, much of this fabled family moved to England, entering British high society and distinguishing themselves in the fields of journalism, philanthropy, poetry, politics, and the patronage of the arts. Several members, most notably Reuben David Sassoon, David Solomon Sassoon, and Solomon David Sassoon, were particularly avid collectors of items of Jewish interest.
This sale offers treasures that have descended in the family since its earliest days, with items assembled during their residencies in Baghdad, Bombay, Hong Kong, and the United Kingdom. An important group of objects comes from Philip Salomons, brother of the first Jewish Lord Mayor of London and one of the earliest collectors of antique Judaica. That collection was bought by Reuben David Sassoon, who augmented it and subsequently lent many of these items — including several offered for sale here — to the groundbreaking 1887 Anglo-Jewish Historical Exhibition at the Albert Hall in London.
Most of the manuscripts derive from the collection of the famous bibliophile David Solomon Sassoon, with examples showcasing the reach of Jewish culture as well as the Sassoon family itself.