Esther Scroll with £25,000 golden touch

Esther Scroll holder and scroll – £25,000 at Lyon & Turnbull.

Topping by some way an offering of 300 pieces of jewellery at Lyon & Turnbull’s (25% buyer’s premium) Edinburgh sale was a Persian gold and niello decorated Esther Scroll holder.

Extracted from Antiques Trade Gazette | Terence Ryle

The 6½in (16.5cm) long holder with coral finial enclosed a megillah (scroll) engraved with river landscapes. This told in Hebrew the story of Esther, wife of Emperor Xerxes, who stopped a plot to exterminate her fellow Jews in Persia. Traditionally, the scroll is read out on the Jewish feast of Purim.

The Edinburgh piece was unmarked, but testing at the Edinburgh Assay Offices showed it to be 18ct gold.

Precise dating was more difficult: the auction house reckoned mid-20th century but others thought the scroll, if not the niello work, was earlier.

One or two such megillahs have come on the market since a silver-gilt example took a five-times estimate £11,000 at Lawrences of Crewkerne six years ago. The example at Edinburgh on June 5 was pitched at £5000-8000 and sold at £25,000.