Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Alert for a mis-described Auction Item at PBA Galleries 02/09/14

Lot 32 of an Auction of rare books being offered by PBA Galleries is being described as the 1516-17 edition from the editio princeps of the Rabbinic Bible - the Mikraot Gedolot -  printed by Daniel Bomberg. A close look at the photo will show that this is actually the later and much less valuable 1568 edition, printed in שכ"ח.

In all likelihood, this is the work of an unscrupulous dealer, who purposely offered this edition through a non-Judaica specializing Auction House, and is hoping for an easy prey, who will rely solely on the description to make his purchase. I find it most likely that the auction house was describing based on the information supplied to them by the consignor, rather than deliberately be misleading.

Hopefully, if we point out enough such items, we will discourage crooks from attempting to go up this route again.

UPDATE 2/5/14: PBA GALLERIES have withdrawn the lot immediately after they were notified. Thank you.

Hat-tip: Yosef Goldman


  1. This same volume was sold for $875 (including premium) at a Doyle auction in NYC in November. I personally examined it there before the sale and informed the Doyle staff that their cataloging was incorrect and that it was 1568, not 1517, but as you can see in their online cataloging (link below), the mistake was not corrected. It seems as if the same unscrupulous dealer, or another, then sent the book out west to try their luck at PBA. Glad you (and/or Y. Goldman) caught it!

  2. 3 years ago, I have got the occasion to identify and to appraise the 4 volumes of this splendid so called rabbinical Bible in the city library of Avranches, Normandy, France. The municipality bought the entire library of Mount St Michel's monastery in 1791. This 4 volumes Bible is the lone Hebrew book in this library.

    Bomberg is not the printer, but Juan de Gara : see the printer's colophon !
    And see also Vinograd, vol. 2, Venice, N° 555, page 254.

    The printer says only that it is printed with Bomberg's characters; i.e. the the shape of the letters he used is similar to Bomberg's characters.

    We do have the same one in our library

    Avraham/Jean-François MALTHETE
    Epigraphist & Paleograph
    in charge of the Hebrew manuscripts
    and of the ancient Hebrew printed books
    Library of the Alliance Israelite Universelle