An early collection of ‘silver religious ornaments’ from the Ashkenazi Plymouth Hebrew Congregation’s synagogue built in 1762, the oldest in the English-speaking world, sold at Bonhams on 25th November for £175,000.
This earliest and rarest set of 14 lots of silver prayer instruments was estimated to sell for £100,000, but instead took a staggering 175,000. These included the earliest known set of English Jewish ritual instruments ever to come up for auction.
Nicholas Shaw, Head of Silver at Bonhams in London said: “There were some staggering prices in the sale. As the new Head of Silver at Bonhams, and this my first sale, it was a particular pleasure. A Jewish community was present in Plymouth by the mid 18th century, and were known to have been meeting regularly for services by 1745. The members were immigrants, primarily from the German lands and the Netherlands.”
A superb provincial Torah shield made in Exeter c 1765 by Jason Holt and William Pearse went for £21,000. This Torah shield seems to be the earliest example from the West Country and its design has not been noted previously. A number of these rare items were made by Exeter silversmiths.