A rare Hebrew manuscript recently uncovered at a private home in England could fetch more than $800,000 when it goes to auction Friday.
The text, a 1726 haggadah, was found in a Jewish home in Manchester earlier this year, inside a cardboard box originally containing kosher food supplies. The manuscript was brought into the country by a Belgian-Jewish family fleeing Nazi persecution.
A niece inherited the contents of the family’s estate in 2007, when she contacted the Adam Partridge Auctioneers for a valuation on the home’s various items.
Bill Forrest of APA stumbled upon the haggadah by chance, recognizing immediately its value.
“The thing that stood out when I first handled it was the quality and skill that went into it. It is finely handwritten with a quill and beautifully illustrated,” he told the Independent. “The family are still shell-shocked.”
Forrest has confirmed private collectors and national libraries and Jewish organizations have already expressed an interest in the text.
“It is very, very lucky that it survived from that period. It is a miracle that it was not thrown out, that it was found and someone realized what it was. I would call it divine providence,” Dr. Yaakov Wise, of the Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Manchester, added.
“This was probably in use for 200 years. There are wine and food stains on it, which is exactly what you would expect when it was at the table. It is easy to imagine the wealthy family in Vienna sitting around in their wigs and their buckled shoes reading it by candlelight.”
The haggadah is illustrated by esteemed Viennese court scribe Aaron Shreiber Herlingen. In 2012, a Herlingen haggadah sold for $800,000.