Rare Jewish artefact to go under the hammer

An extremely rare 18th century Jewish artefact which has survived the ravages of war, fire and the Holocaust is set to go under the hammer in Hampstead.

The order of service from June 27, 1757, was crafted to mark the end of the siege of Prague during the Seven Years’ War when Prussia tried to capture the historic city from the Austrian empire.

The pamphlet is thought to be one of only five in the world.

Most likely handed out to local dignitaries at the synagogue, the nine-page document will be sold by Hampstead Auctions on November 15. It has been valued by specialist dealers and is expected to fetch between �300 and 500.

Jonathan Fishburn, of Fishburn Books in Golders Green, which specialises in antiquarian Judaica and Hebraica, said he often comes across similar 20th-century items and some from the 19th century, but artefacts this old are few and far between. “They are very ephemeral, they do not get saved or looked after,” he said.

“Even books from that period would be rare. Presumably this would have been in a fairly small print run and maybe would have been given to dignitaries or those attending the synagogue.

“Very few items survive that long, with the ravages of war, fire, the Holocaust... these things very rarely survived.”

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Written in raised print, the nine-page booklet has come down through the generations to the current owner in Golders Green.

The other only known copies in existence are held by the National Library of Israel and three libraries in America.

The document’s title is loosely translated as: “Description/Order of the Thanksgiving Prayers performed by Prague Jewry in the Alt Neu (old/new) Synagogue on the departure of the enemy, 27 June 1757”.

Legendary Prussian military leader Frederick the Great had led his army to the outskirts of the city following his victory at the Battle of Prague.

His force was too small to mount an assault on the city, so instead he tried to starve the Austrian enemy into submission.

But the Prussian king was thwarted when his own supply line was threatened and he was forced to abandon the siege.

Colin Smith, of Hampstead Auctions, said; “It’s a really nice rare document going back to Frederick the Great. We don’t think it’s hugely valuable, it’s much more of an interest piece. You never know though, it might make four figures but it might not sell at all.”

The document will go under the hammer at the Hampstead Community Centre on November 15.