Winner's Auctions Ltd. is a company operating in the international arena with rich experience and holds the record for the most expensive item sold in Israel. Winner's specializes in manuscripts, ancient Hebrew books, historic documents, rare maps, Judaica, Jewish art, coins, banknotes, and more. Winner's Auctions serves as a trustworthy source for collectors and provides assessment and evaluation services for individual items and collections.
Fields of Expertise
In the past, Winner's Auction House traditionally dealt with Judaica. Following many requests, in 2015, the auction house expanded their field of expertise, and began to hold specialty auctions such as numismatics, ancient maps and more, as well as "Winner's Unlimited" auctions which contain items from a wide range of areas with no direct connection to Judaism, such as art, art objects, silver and gold vessels, rare books, medals, archeology and more.
The Judaica sales are usually divided into a number of main categories:
Ancient Books and Holy Books – Holy Books from the beginning of the period of the printing press, rare and even single editions, books belonging to Chassidic Rebbes and great Rabbis, first editions of rare books and more.
Manuscripts – As yet unpublished Rabbinic novaelle from prominent Rabbis, Yemenite manuscripts, important Rabbinic letters, poems and prose, personal diaries and more.
Kabbalah and Chassidut – Amulets and segulot, Kabbalistic drawings, rare books of Kabbalah, first editions of books of Chassidut and important writings.
Glosses and Autographs – Of important Rebbes and Rabbis, communal leaders, Prime Ministers such as David Ben Gurion and Menachem Begin, scientists such as Albert Einstein and more.
Rimonim (finnials) for a Torah scroll – Which illustrate the beautify of Jewish craftsmanship among European Jewry, Yemenite Jewry, Moroccan Jewry, American Jewry and Israel.
Silver Items – Breathtaking silver items which illustrate the development of Jewish art throughout the world: North Africa, Europe, Yemenite Jewry, Moroccan Jewry and more. Ritual items such as Kiddush goblets and candlesticks and special items such as cigarette cases, tobacco cases and more.
Scrolls of Esther – Miniatures, on parchment, illustrated and even artistic printings.
Pesach Haggadahs – Unique artistic Haggadahs, extremely rare editions, Kibbutz Haggadahs, Haggadahs from the Holocaust period, and more.
Bezalel Art – Examples from early days of the workshop of 'Bezalel Jerusalem', including works of Boris Schatz, Ze'ev Raban, Meir Gur-Aryeh and more.
Zionism – Historical Zionist items such as first attempts of settlements, the First Aliyah, the Jewish Legion, letters and correspondence between Zionist leaders, personal archives, signatures and photographs of Zionist leaders and poets such as Herzl and Leah Goldberg, first editions, banknotes and contracts from the period of the British mandate, Rabbinical letters about the settlement and questions of Jewish law which arose such as the Shemittah Debate and more.
Posters – Historical posters, announcements and advertisements on Jewish topics, such as members of the underground resistance movement, the Jewish National Fund, early Zionism, welcoming ceremonies for Rabbis, funerals of Rebbes, polemics and more.
Calendars – From the first calendars, some of them handwritten (from Yemen and oriental countries, Europe and more) and up until calendars with a historical connection such as Zionist calendars, Jewish National Fund and more.
Maps – Ancient maps of the Land of Israel and Syria, engravings from as early as the 16th century, early journals of journeys to the Holy Land and more.
Catalogs and Auctions
The auctions take place once every two-three months, and are on an international scale, with buyers and sellers from all around the globe. Before every auction, a high-quality catalog is printed which details the items up for sale. The catalogs are uploaded to the website before the auction, in Hebrew and English, to enable customers to examine the items, and even to make offers for them before the auction. During the auction itself there are a number of convenient ways for the customer to participate in the auction: being present in the live auction in order to have the full auction experience, participation from home via the company's website or via telephone communication with a representative of the company who makes contact in real time.
Method of Sale
The auction house uses the English sale method which is common on the market, in accordance with the terms which appear on the sales contract. When the official catalog is released, a date is fixed for the upcoming auction. Prior to the auction, customers are given the opportunity to bid for an item, no less than the opening price which was fixed in advance. The system saves the price which the customer is prepared to pay, and represents him before his competitors, raising his bid until it reaches the maximum price which he established in advance (if the opening price is $200, and the customer established that he is willing to pay $1,000, the system will offer a bid on his behalf for $200 and will raise his bid until it reaches $1,000; in the event that the competitors go beyond $1,000 the system will stop representing him).
The auction takes place in a location which is fixed in advance and takes place in conjunction, and in a synchronized fashion with the customers on site, on the telephone and on line, and in accordance with the advance bids for each item. During the auction itself, the auctioneer updates the customers of the item's current price including the advance bids and opens it up to additional competition. The end of the bidding for each item is established by the auctioneer's hammer blow, and the auctioneer has sole discretion in establishing the winner.
A purchase fee with V.A.T is added to the hammer price, in accordance with the percentages which were established and publicized in advance by the auction house.
Public interest in the special items leads to great competition. Among the more special items which were sold in recent auctions are a unique miniature Torah scroll which belonged to a German merchant hundreds of years ago and was hidden during the Holocaust; a long sermon in the handwriting of Rabbi Yosef Chaim of Baghdad (the Ben Ish Chai); special coins from the Great Revolt and the Bar Kochva Revolt; the stamp of Rabbi Yaakov Emden (the Ya'avetz); coins of Rabbi Shalom Sharabi and works of art from the famous Jewish artist Isidor Kaufmann.
In 2017, Winner's was in the eye of a media storm regarding the sale of personal belongings of comedian Sefi Rivlin. It comported itself gallantly and returned the items to Rivlin's family. The subject generated public debate regarding the propriety of selling items of a deceased person without the family's knowledge and input.
On June 10, 2017 the auction house presented six letters written by renowned Jewish scientist Albert Einstein to his friend David Bohm. The letters included some references to the State of Israel. The letters were sold for over 750,000 ILS, and their sale at Winner's garnered wide international attention and publicity in hundreds of media outlets around the world.
On October 25, 2017, Winner's sold another four letters written by Einstein. One letter featured one line that Einstein wrote in 1922 regarding the value of a modest serene life. He wrote the letter in Tokyo and gave it to a bellboy as a tip in the hotel after he was informed that he won the Nobel Prize for Physics. This letter was sold for $1.56 million dollars and triggered wide media coverage in Israel and throughout the world.
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