181
181
Autograph Letter Sent by Moses Mendelssohn to Elkan Herz, [Berlin]: April 27, 1784
Estimate
8,00012,000
JUMP TO LOT
181
Autograph Letter Sent by Moses Mendelssohn to Elkan Herz, [Berlin]: April 27, 1784
Estimate
8,00012,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Important Judaica

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Autograph Letter Sent by Moses Mendelssohn to Elkan Herz, [Berlin]: April 27, 1784
1 folio (9 1/8 x 7 1/2 in.; 231 x 189 mm) on paper; neat eighteenth-century Ashkenazic semi-cursive. Small part of upper-right corner lacking; slight staining near head at left; evidence of folding; modern pencil markings on recto (some erased); pen mark on verso.


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Catalogue Note

Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786) was one of the most prominent Jewish philosophers and proponents of the Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment) in the eighteenth century. Born in Dessau into a traditional family, he followed his teacher, Rabbi David Fraenkel (1707-1762), to Berlin to continue his Jewish studies as well as pursue a broader education. Throughout his life he worked as a merchant, confining his literary and epistolary activities to his free time. Among his most intimate lifelong correspondents was Elkan Herz (d. 1816), a relative who lived in Leipzig.

The present letter, written by hand in Judeo-German with scattered Hebrew phrases, comprises a request on the part of Mendelssohn that Herz look after Mendel Meyer and his business partner, who were fine, hardworking, righteous, and talented young men but whose business skills were not yet well developed, during their first visit to the Leipzig trade fair that year. Mendel (also known as Johann Martin) was the son of Nathan Meyer Katz (Wollenberger; 1740-1814), a dear friend of Mendelssohn’s who was born in Frankfurt an der Oder and was appointed Jewish Court Agent of the Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz in 1775. Mendel would go on to marry Mendelssohn’s second daughter, Rebecca (also known as Recha or Reikel; 1767-1831), the following year, and his sister Henriette (1776-1862) would marry Joseph Mendelssohn (1770-1848) in 1794. Interestingly, of Moses Mendelssohn’s six children, Rebecca and Joseph were the only two to remain Jews.

Provenance

Johanna and the Brothers Goldschmidt

Literature

Lazarus Levi Adler, “Eigenhändige Briefe von Moses Mendels[s]ohn,” Monatsschrift für Geschichte und Wissenschaft des Judenthums 8,3-7 (1859): 100-103, 170-175, 261-265, at pp. 262-263.

Meyer Kayserling, Moses Mendelssohn: sein Leben un seine Werke (Leipzig: Hermann Mendelssohn, 1862), 504-505 (no. 20).

Important Judaica

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