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Hebrew Book Goes for Nearly $1M

June 23, 1999

NEW YORK (AP) _ A 16th-century Jewish prayer book, one of the first Hebrew books printed north of the Alps, was bought today at auction for $937,500.

The daily prayer book, written in the tradition of Ashkenazi or European Jews, was printed in Prague, Czech Republic, in 1515 and is one of two known copies in existence. The other is kept at Oxford University in England.

The book was bought by an anonymous telephone bidder during a sale at Christie’s auction house.

The prayer book, with hand-drawn illustrations of King David playing the harp, Elijah blowing the shofar, and the ritual washing of hands, sold well above the auction house’s pre-sale estimate of between $300,000 and $500,000.

The prayer book was one of 148 items auctioned from the Beth Din collection owned by the library of Solomon Hirschell, the first Chief Rabbi of England.

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