Another Auction Extravaganza

By Ann Rabinowitz

Grain Bill Given to Nathan Spanier (1826-27)

As a follow up to my previous piece on the Blog on locating great finds at auction, I have another very helpful and informative find from Sotheby’s.  As a result of a group of very rare documents put out to auction, Sotheby’s prepared a catalog describing the contents of these ninety-five items. 

 It is an amazing documentation of German Jewish economic life entitled:  “Judaica, Court Jews, Bankers, and Scholars, Documents related to Jewish life in Germany and Europe (17th to 20th century)” which can be found at the following link in English: .  In addition, there is also a German version of the document by Dr. Ingo Fleisch that includes illustrations of the items which is quite fascinating:

To read through the catalog is to get a vivid impression of the extensive economic paperwork which must have existed and that was mainly destroyed completely by centuries of persecution and the latter day World Wars I and II.  What interested me particularly was the economic circle around Gluckel of Hameln, the great female entrepreneur who was the first to write an autobiography of her life and times.

In that regard, I found reference to Nathan Moses Spanier (1575-1646), who was a prosperous businessman and the grandfather-in-law of Gluckel and a leader of the Jewish community in Altoona (now Hamburg), Germany.  The Spanier family name was one I had been researching for some time to determine a connection to a possible descendant, Harry Spanier, who had been noted as the first Jew to be killed in the service of the Boers on December 11, 1899 during the Boer War in South Africa.

A sampling of some of the other names found in this auction group was the following:

Mendel Abenheimer
Marcus Nathan Adler
Samuel Friedrich Beer
Goldchen Behrens
Abraham Moses Bindar
Jacob Brandeis
D.N. Cahn
Jonas Cahn
Salomon Michael David
Elissen Brothers
Johann Ludwig Eskeles
Moses Friedlander
Sussman Gans
Wolf Goldsmit-Cassel
Jobst Goldschmidt
Moses Goldschmidt
Alexander Haindorf
Israel Jacob
Johanna Frankel Kley
Marcus Konigswarter
Marcus Levin Lazarus
Juda Esra Leibniczer
Abraham Levi
Simon Levi
Salomon Mandelkern
Marx Brothers (Isak, Anselm and Eduard)
Bonaventura Mayer
Franz Simon Meyer Meyer
Marx Model
Herz Nathan
Joel Beer Neckarsulmer
Joel Levi Neumann
Abraham Phillippson
Amschel Mayer Rothschild
Nathaniel Mayer Rothschild
David Samuel
Jacob Selig
Jonas Selig
Henle Ephraim Ullmann
Leopold Ullstein
Hermann Wessling
Adolph Zimmern
Adelheid Zunz

In addition to these individual names, there were the names of commercial enterprises such as banks and industrial concerns such as Gebruder Arons (Arons Brothers), L. Behrens, Dreyfuss & Kaufmann, M.S. Goldschmidt Sons, Halperin Fils, Jos. Jac. Hannover, Hirschfeld & Wolf, Lawaetz & Koch, Levinsohn & Co., Lindemann & Co., Loser Levin, F. Mart. Magnus, Gebruder Ochs (Ochs Brothers), Rosenstock & Son, Gebruder Veit (Veit Brothers), and Robert Warschauer & Co.  

What gives value to these names and documents are the descriptions which tell of the importance of these individuals and corporations and their links to each other over a period of centuries.  Many of these, the reader will not have heard of before, but will be amazed at the breadth and variety of their commercial dealings from banking, to silk, glass, sugar, tobacco, rice, candy, chocolate, colonial goods, silver and gold braid, jewelry, whalebone, and furs as well as sculptures, paintings and other artistic endeavors.

In addition, there is a little known highlight of a bill of exchange document which gives an American focus as it mentions Benjamin Davidson, a cousin of the Rothschild family and founder of the Rothschild’s bank in San Francisco.


Bill of Exchange, January 19, 1858

Further information on the Rothschild family and their commercial dealings in America can be found in their archives at the following link:

As can be seen once again, looking at things at auction can be quite worthwhile and enlightening.  It very often provides a view of previously unknown resources and types of documentation unknown to family researchers.  There is also the knowledge gained of the origins of resources such as this and where to locate them.

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