In honor of the upcoming holiday of Purim (March 8), here is a Megilat Esther from Columbia's Smith Collection. Professor David Eugene Smith, a professor at Columbia's Teacher's College from 1901-1926, was a scholar in the History of Mathematics who went around the world collecting manuscripts and rare books related to his topic. He spent a lot of time in Persia, studying the Persian system of mathematics. While there, he also purchased some Hebrew manuscripts, like the Esther Scroll shown here, which he then donated to Columbia University. The story of Esther, of course, takes place in ancient Persia, or present day Iran.
While other such decorated cases exist, it is rare to find one in such good condition due to the fragility of the ivory.
The second image, below, is the portion of the text with the names of the ten sons of Haman.
Thanks to a project with the National Library of Israel's Institute for Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts, the manuscript can be viewed in its entirety here:
2 thoughts on “Hebrew mss @ CUL: The Whole Megillah”
If it wern't for the provenence, I would be very suspicious of an "ivory" Megilla case. There was a dealer many, many years ago in Washington Heights who specialized in ivory Judaica fakes, usually Yads. Have you checked what kind of ivory it is? Al
Smith retired from Teachers’ College in the 20s, so my hope is that this was before the fake-seller. Either way, as you implied, I believe he purchased most of his collection while abroad (Smith was in Persia for quite some time). He purchased other Judaica materials there as well (mostly Megilot, but none of such beauty as this one). It’s a little odd, actually, because most of the “Smith Hebrew” manuscripts have no connection to Mathematics.
Unfortunately I do not know what kind of ivory it is.