A review of this month’s purchases
By Moshe Orman
As always, it’s been an interesting few weeks in the trade. Items have been purchased and items have been sold. I would like to go over some of the items that I have purchased from clients with the hope that the information will be both educational and monetarily beneficial — educational for those who are interested in learning something new about an old world and monetarily beneficial for those who will know what to look for in their houses in order to sell. Every issue of BIZNESS MAGAZINE will report on the different items that I have bought, the mistakes that I have made and ideas on what to sell.
In a different era, at a time when cigarettes were considered the norm, the upper classes had cigarette cases made for them. These cases, often silver and sometimes even enameled, were a perfect way to show one’s status.
Last week I bought a silver case with a tortoise shell jacket. Tortoise shell becomes very malleable when heated. This allows it to be shaped onto another object. The cigarette case is from France. I know this from the tiny boar’s head hallmark that can be seen inside the case. This is a mark that is stamped on small French silver items produced from 1838 until the present day. The case I bought is around 100 years old and is still in great condition.
People still have this type of item lying around collecting dust. I am always glad to buy them.
Throughout the ages, gold has been worth, well, its weight in gold. Yet, the price of gold has not always been so high. Just twenty-five years ago, the price of gold was three times cheaper than today’s gold price. This is perhaps the reason why people are selling more gold than ever before. Most gold jewelry or coins that people have were bought at a time when gold was much less expensive. This means that not only have the owners gotten their money’s worth but they have even made money from the purchase price!
The items which I recently bought are just run of the mill. The only thing they have going for them is the material that they are made from. If they were made from almost any other metal, they wouldn’t even be worth the trip out to buy them. Sometimes, however, gold pieces can be worth more than their metal value. These pieces were not as fortunate. Though seemingly nothing special, they certainly added up to quite a sum. Buying gold is standard in the antique business but it never gets old.
One hundred years ago, in a town in East Germany, a shochet (a Jewish butcher), sharpened his knife. He was about to take the first step in preparing the Shabbos meal for so many Jewish families that lived in his town. Little did he know that a century later the knife he was using would be sought after by so many collectors of Judaica. Judaica can be defined in different ways. For our purposes, we will define it as anything that the Jewish people ritually used in their homes, their work places and in their everyday life. It can be an antique Italian ketuba, a fancy “sheviti hashem linegdi” traditionally put in the synagogues or an old grogger traditionally used on Purim to blot out the evil Haman’s name. Even antique post cards with Jewish themes fall under the category of antique Judaica.
A little while ago, I bought several post cards. These are no ordinary post cards! They are from Germany dating back 80-100 years and have beautifully depicted Jewish themes. One has a mother helping her daughter shake a lulav — not the usual imagery we get when thinking of pre war Europe. These post cards were lying in a box and were moved from place to place as homes were moved and the owners did not exactly know what to do with them. Although not incredibly valuable, they bring up a lot of Jewish pride and sentiment.
I am always interested in buying all kinds of Judaica — either ceremonial items or more personal items that are from an old world that has not been forgotten.
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