The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 17, Number 44, October 26, 2014, Article 4


David Thomason Alexander submitted this review of a new book on Jewish Antiques, which includes a good deal of numismatic content. Thanks! -Editor

Jewish Antiques Jewish Antiques from Menorahs to Seltzer Bottles.
By Tsadik Kaplan.
Schiffer Publishing Ltd., Atglen PA 19310.
168 pp hardcover, copiously illustrated.

Numismatists are sometimes accused of narrow focus, limiting themselves to coins, medals and tokens and shunning the wider array of items relating to the various fields of collectibles that attract their interest. Author, collector, numismatist and researcher Tsadik Kaplan is not a collector displaying such a narrow focus.

Judaica is a field of great depth and width, and Judaic numismatics dates back to the world of the ancients and spans the continents of the modern world. I became acquainted with author Cohen while I served as a senior cataloger at Stack’s-Coin Galleries in New York City. He arrived at the office from time to time, bearing some of the most amazing and little-known items in his chosen field of study, Judaica.

Jewish Antiques (JA) presents 15 areas of collectibles dealing with religious practice, major holy days, birth and marriage. More specific areas include material created by the historic Bezalel School of designers in Jerusalem, jewelry, Israeli crafts, athletic subjects and Americana. Collectibles relating to the two World Wars receive sensitive and complete coverage.

Exonumia, as the late Russ Rulau dubbed the area of tokens and medals, receives expert treatment. The book skirts the plentiful issues of the modern State of Israel itself, as these have been fairly thoroughly covered by such compilers as the late Sylvia Haffner and Nathan Sobel.

This section opens with Samuel Friedrich Beer’s bronze medal hailing the Second Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland in 1898 and includes such important medalets and tokens as a 1913 wearable medalet of Ukrainian Jew Mendel Beiliss who was acquitted of blood libel by an all-Christian jury. Of American interest is the 1863 Civil War Token of the Felix Dining Saloon in New York bearing the word KOSHER in Hebrew.

Author Cohen has researched the virtually unknown area of German Jewish medals issued after the 1933 coming to power of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. Among these is a death centennial medal of Berlin Rabbi Akiva Eger, struck bearing his portrait in September 1937, a year before Kristallnacht and the beginning of the annihilation of the German-Jewish community.

Charitable tokens include several New York City issues of Jewish schools, orphanages and facilities feeding the indigent poor. An entire collection could be assembled by the many institutions issuing the generally brass issues, only a sampling of which appear in JA. Other chapters include medallic objects such as the enameled badge of the Hebrew Veterans of the War with Spain in 1898 and unit badges of the forces of both sides in World War I.

This book is copiously illustrated in full color with hundreds of images of every conceivable Judaic collectible including religious and devotional metalwork, all-purpose woodwork, porcelain, and, yes, seltzer bottles with their richly colored transparent glass. Candelabra, engraved plates and bowls, Mezuzah cases and wall plaques are other collectibles well represented.

The finest printing on coated stock assures the book its consistently handsome appearance, completed by the meticulous color photography that graces virtually every page. Even casual readers with no general interest in Judaic collectibles will find this remarkable book a rare visual treat.

Jewish Antiques from Menorahs to Seltzer Bottles is available from at $35 per copy; as a newly released book from Barnes & Noble at $35, a price likely to rise in 2015. It can be ordered directly from Schiffer Publishing, 4880 Lower Valley Road, Atglen PA 19310 at $45 per copy.

For moe information, or to order on Amazon, see:
Jewish Antiques: From Menorahs to Seltzer Bottles (

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Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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