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Rare Jewish Prayer Book for Sale: $800,000

An auction house is exhibiting a rare 15th century holiday prayer book before offering it for sale next month. Expected price: $800,000.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 4/17/2012, 8:53 AM

Prayer book (illustrative)
Prayer book (illustrative)
Israel news photo: Flash 90

An auction house is exhibiting a rare 15th century holiday prayer book before offering it for sale in Paris next month, when the “makhzor” is expected to fetch between $540,000 and $800,000.

The term makhzor refers to holiday prayer books, as opposed to the daily “siddur” prayer book. Christie’s auction house will stage the sale for the 400-page illuminated prayer book, which never had been shown to the public until the two-day showing Monday and Tuesday.

It is believed to have been produced in Florence, which hosted a prosperous Jewish community at the time. The book includes motifs from the Renaissance period and contains prayers for all of the major Jewish festivals and High Holidays.

The fact that the makhzor is intact makes it very unique. Its binding bears the coat of arms of its Jewish owner at the time. The coat of arms features a lion holding a burning chalice, and the sun with a moon beside the lion.

The current owner of the rare prayer book is an unidentified family, which is selling it after 100 years.

The auction will take place May 11.