Shul treasure trove goes under hammer


Manchester's Great, New and Central Synagogue has raised £60,000 from the sale of antique Judaica silverware that had been kept in storage.

One bidder at the auction at Sotheby's in London paid £27,000 for a pair of rare silver finials which once topped a Torah scroll. Dating from 1763, they were made by the German silversmith dynasty Drentwett, whose clients included the Polish royal family.

Nineteenth-century German Torah finials fetched £13,000, more than double the estimate, and a silver Torah crown was bought for more than £8,000.

Synagogue president David Kaplin said the items had been acquired over decades from synagogues that had amalgamated with the Salford congregation. Retaining them cost thousands of pounds annually in insurance.

"This very old silver had not seen the light of day for years. Some pieces were stored in the shul and others have been sitting in bank vaults in Manchester city centre. They were donated to benefit others and we are hoping the items will be put to good use elsewhere. We know very little about the history of these items. We couldn't track down the families who donated them because they have no contact with our shul anymore."

More of the synagogue's silverware is set to be sold next week by Kensington auctioneers Matthew Barton.

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