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Lot 135: Collection of Letters from Ephraim Deinard to Elkan Nathan Adler

Auction 53 - Rare and Important Items

by Kedem Public Auction House Ltd

November 15, 2016

Jerusalem, Israel

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  • Collection of Letters from Ephraim Deinard to Elkan Nathan Adler
  • Collection of Letters from Ephraim Deinard to Elkan Nathan Adler
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Description: 23 autograph letters by Ephraim Deinard, addressed to the collector Elkan Nathan Adler. New-Jersey (USA), Ferrara, Ancona, Mantua, Thessaloniki, Constantinople, Beirut, Jerusalem and Ramleh. Most letters from ca. 1902-1910. Hebrew (two letters in English). Deinard's letters to Adler are mainly about books and include lists of books for sale, descriptions of rare books which he discovered throughout his travels, instructions and comments concerning shipment of books and payment for them, and more. Deinard refers in his letters, in his unique language, full of criticism and humor, to life in the USA and England, to politics and religion, to his travels and visits to various Jewish congregations, and more. The letters shed light on Deinard's occupation as collector and book dealer. The letters reveal the scope of Deinard's library (in many letters he refers to shipment of cases full of books, and in one letter he even mentions shipment of 22 cases), as well as the richness of the library, Deinard's love of books and his bibliographic expertise. Deinard mentions more than once rare and precious books and Hebrew manuscripts, or writes to his friend that he found an unknown book. In some of the letters Deinard mentions dignitaries who purchased books from him, among them Mayer Sulzberger (1843-1923), judge, public activist and Jewish-American leader, one of the founders of several Jewish organizations in the USA, who held in his library numerous Hebrew books, rare and precious. Some letters were written during Deinard's travels in various places around the world - Italy, Turkey, Eretz Israel, and more - and he describes his impressions of various encounters and his searches for manuscripts. For example, in one letter he describes a visit to Nablus, and in another he sums up one of his journeys: "I did not complete my travels, particularly, I did not travel to China to research and search for the Jews who are dwelling there from ancient times... until this day, not one of the multitudes of Jews has risen to the task of searching for his lost brothers in this faraway land". In a letter from 1902 Deinard mentions the fifth Zionist Congress, in which Adler participated, and writes about "the noise which was aroused by delegates who are concerned with their people's wellbeing…", "Hibat Zion" movement and the opposition against it: "Jews in Western Europe - and mainly the rich ones - became like slaves and this moved them away from Hibat Zion…" In another letter Deinard writes about the United States: "we lack nothing - no money, no objects and no ancient books but… people are not Jewish and the Jews are not people…" Ephraim Deinard (1846-1930) - Hebrew bibliographer and author, book collector and book dealer; one of the greatest Hebrew bibliographers in modern times; historian and polemicist, considered as a fascinating and colorful figure. Deinard was born in Sasmaka (present day Valdem?rpil, Latvia). When still young he travelled around the world, studied various Jewish congregations, and collected Hebrew books and manuscripts. In the 1880s he maintained a book shop in Odessa. In 1888 immigrated to the United States, where he continued to sell books and attempted to establish a Jewish agricultural colony in Nevada. When his attempt failed he immigrated to Eretz Israel in 1913 and settled in Ramleh. There too he tried to establish a Jewish agricultural settlement, but in 1916 he was deported by the Turks and was obliged to return to the United States. Deinard's collections served to found departments of Hebrew books in leading libraries in the USA, and catalogues of his books were an important source for research of Hebrew literature and culture. Deinard composed tens of books, among them study books and controversial polemic books (against Christianity, against Hasidism, and more). Deinard was considered a provocative author and many of his book aroused harsh criticism. However, many of his polemic books were forgotten over time. Addressee of the letters - Elkan Nathan Adler (1861-1946), was a Jewish-British attorney, author and collector of Hebrew books and manuscripts; son of Nathan Marcus Adler, chief rabbi of the British Empire. Adler spent several years in journeys to the East and visited various Jewish congregations. Among other places, he visited Egypt (one of the first to study the documents in the Cairo Genizah), Syria, Persia, India and Yemen. During his journey he looked for Hebrew books and manuscripts and over the years established a collection which was considered one of the most comprehensive private book collections in the world. 23 letters, (out of which five are written on postcards), and two sections of letters. Many of the letters were written on Deinard's official stationery in New-Jersey. One letter was written on his stationery in Ramleh - "Deinard Garden, Ramleh (Palestine)". All of the letters, except for one, are written by hand in legible square script. Enclosed: two envelopes addressed to Elkan Nathan Adler and two leaves (on blue paper) with lists of books. Size and condition vary. Good overall condition. Folding marks, tears to some letters (one letter torn into two at folding mark). Stains (some dampstains, with ink smears).

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