Rare Jamaican ketuba to be auctioned by Sotheby's

Jewish wedding contract from the island nation dates back to 1884.

December 16, 2018 18:03
1 minute read.
Rare Jamaican ketuba to be auctioned by Sotheby's

Jamaican ketuba from 1884 . (photo credit: SOTHEBY’S)


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A ketubah (Jewish marriage contract) dating from 1884 in Kingston, Jamaica, is set to be sold Wednesday by Sotheby’s Auction House in New York City as part of its auction of “Important Judaica.”

Sotheby’s said while it regularly offers ketubot in its auctions, such a document from Jamaica is a first for the auction house and – it believes – the auction world as a whole.

The document in question solemnized the marriage of David ben Abraham Nunes Henriques and Amy bat Alfred Delgado in Kingston on August 14, 1884, according to Sotheby’s. The auction house said the bride’s grandfather, Moses Delgado, was a significant figure in Jamaica’s Jewish community, and one of the leaders of the movement to grant full civil rights to Jews in the former British colony.

While Jamaica’s Jewish community today numbers less than 200, at its peak several thousand Jews – including many fleeing persecution from the Portuguese and Spanish Inquisitions – lived on the Caribbean island.

The auction house estimates the piece of Jamaican Jewish history will be sold for $8,000 to $12,000.

The ketubah is one of 226 lots of Judaica being auctioned by Sotheby’s this week. The auction also includes a 13th-century Torah scroll from Spain. Sotheby’s said the manuscript, written by Israel ben Isaac Ben Israel of Toledo, is expected to sell for between $200,000 and $300,000.

An Italian parochet (curtain covering a Torah ark) from 1755 is also up for auction, and is estimated to fetch $100,000-$150,000. The parochet, which is hand-embroidered on royal blue silk, includes motifs of grapes, pomegranates and flowers. The embroidered words along the edge identify the artist as Simha Viterbo.

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