Kestenbaum & Company

May 2, 2013
New York, NY, US

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Description: Weinberg, Morris (Moshe). HaSepher Tehilim Kethivath Yad ...This Book, the Psalms of King David, Written by Hand. Large Hebrew Manuscript written in clear Aschkenazic rabbinic and square scripts (with Nikud), with accompanying explanatory illustrations of various sizes. Many decorated borders and historiated initial letters. Black ink and colored highlights on thick paper, 116 pages (excluding blanks) each with original protective wax-paper. Bound in original calf, with prominent central Star-of-David on upper cover with title tooled in gilt within. Original protective cover and housed in contemporary fitted valise with two hinged locks.
Featured pages:
* Photographic portrait of the artist displaying his manuscript, with stamp below reading 'Morris Wineberg, Chicago Illinois...Nov. 9, 1912.'
* Decorative Hebrew title-page with scribe's hand at center.
* Meditative page: Psalm LXVII laid out as a seven-branched candelabrum.
* Four Hebrew illustrated divisional titles.
* Two additional title-pages in English each featuring the American flag.
* Page of Approbations. Original Autograph Letters Signed, all written to Weinberg, 1911-12, from: Rabbi Gavriel Zev "Velvel" Margolis (author of Ginzei Margolios and Toras Gavriel.) * R. Yitzchok Tikochinsky. * R. Chaim Avrohom Liebowitz, Cleveland. * R. Avrohom Menachem Mann, New York. * R. Eliyahu Trotsky, Chicago. * R. Tzvi Hirsch Masliansky ("HaMatif HaLe'umi.") * R. Sender Yarblovsky. * R. Shaul Silber, Chicago.
* Kriyath Arba: A poetic prayer (techinah) composed in a multi-directional acrostic form of artist's name: Moshe ben Ze'ev.
* A lengthy Foreword to the Reader, written in a rabbinic Hebrew hand in a shaped-form.
* "Yehi Ratzon" prayers to be recited prior and following the recitation of the Psalms.
* List of names of scores of subscribers, organized by synagogue, (includes Dr. Solomon Schechter and J. D. Eisenstein of New York).
* Elaborately composed memorial, or 'yahrtzeit' chart for parents, with years identified. Mispaginated, few leaves slightly loose. Sheet size: 12 x 17 inches.
• An extraordinary American illuminated Hebrew manuscript accomplished in an exceptionally fine calligraphic hand, embellished with delightful folk illustrations throughout.
Provenance: Acquired by the consignor from the artist's family. This manuscript has remained out of public view for a century.
The Hebrew calligraphic arts were far less developed in America in comparison to their sophisticated use in Europe. This Hebrew Book of Psalms created by Moshe Weinberg in Chicago is an outstanding and highly creative example. No doubt the best of its kind.
The artist was born in Kolne a village near Lomza, Poland in 1854. Before he migrated to the United States Weinberg received a solid Jewish education. This is abundantly clear by his insightful use of numerous creative illustrated vignettes within the body of the calligraphic Hebrew text that expand upon the understanding of the verses he created. It took the artist three years (1910-12) to accomplish this outstanding example of American-Jewish Folk Art comprised of numerous delightful illustrations.
One of the most notable features of this manuscript of calligraphic artistry is Weinberg's extensive use of visual art throughout: At chapter headings, along margins, and embedded within individual words. Although all the illustrations are literal, they are clever, detailed and well executed. The artist includes everyday items - even household gadgets and modern inventions - as a way to explain the text, often in quite striking ways in the context of the Book of Psalms. For example, a suit of armor (to illustrate Chap. 5 verse 13), a beehive (19:11), a razor (52:4), an alarm-clock (55:18), an umbrella (62:9), a hot air balloon (139:8), etc. Certain pages contain more elaborate illustrations: A synagogue, a cemetery, a steam-ship, and many more. Certainly remarkable are the two divisional title-pages that prominently feature the Stars-and-Stripes, an abundantly clear testimony to the patriotic energy that Weinberg had for the United States and the religious freedom it gave him to produce this work of spiritual beauty.
Although nothing more is known of the artistry of Moshe (Morris) Weinberg, he published an edited facsimile of this manuscript in a much reduced format in 1912, omitting the original 1910 title page. See Y. Goldman, Hebrew Printing In America no. 24 (who makes no mention of the whereabouts of the original manuscript).
Also see Jewish Museum Catalogue, The Jewish Heritage in American Folk Art (1984) no. 90; and J. Ungerleider-Mayerson, Jewish Folk Art (1986) p. 34. - Both of which reproduce illustrations from the facsimile edition and not the original manuscript.
A magnificent manuscript of early 20th-century American Jewish Folk Art.
Chicago, 1910-12.
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