Scroll of Esther
Seventeenth Century Scroll of Esther, illuminated in a 15th Century Italian style: The text is in Hebrew, on very fine vellum and is just at thirteen feet in length. It is highly illuminated in a 15th century Italian style with 28 miniatures of the main characters of the story-King Xerxes, Vashti, Mordecai, Esther and Haman-repeated down the entire length of the scroll in its appropriate location to the text. Other miniatures show King Xerxes' banquet, Esther approaching the King for an audience, Haman leading Mordecai through the streets on a horse, Haman and his ten sons on the gallows, etc. Angels, marble pillars, and mythological figures become a regular part of border of this beautifully decorated scroll. Only the first approximate three feet of the vellum scroll show signs of wear consistent with an age of 17th century. This, however, would be consistent with a scroll of that length being exhibited for just the first few feet, rather than unwinding it for its full length. It was likely commissioned by a wealthy Jewish family as a treasure to show only to friends, expressing some of the high admiration in which Esther is revered as a heroin of their faith. For securely exhibiting it, we had a thirteen foot, clear acrylic case made for wall hanging.
Acquisition: Dr. Brake and I were preparing for a major exhibit at the Biblical Arts Center in Dallas in 1995. (This was the first exhibit in which we demonstrated the full-scale Guterberg Press.) As I was traveling to Dallas one day I received a phone call from Martin Winkle of Bruddenbrooks that he had just received a beautifully illuminated scroll of Esther, and knowing I was looking for an illuminated scroll of Hebrew Scripture, said, "I am going to send it to you on approval!" He continued, "I don't want to put it in the store, or in the catalogue, because it needs to go to you and be exhibited!" I gulped inside when he told me the price, but I told him to send it anyway. When it arrived and we unrolled this extraordinarily decorated piece of Scripture, I told my wife the quoted price. But she said, almost without hesitation, "I know you have always wanted an illuminated piece of Hebrew Scripture, and we have the profit from the sale of the Enid home in the bank, go ahead and get it!" (Often today when I tell people who ask, "Where did you get that beautiful scroll?" I get emotional as I tell the above, and thank God silently for a very understanding wife.)