14 lots of silver religious pieces sold this week at Bonhams auctioneers in London.
They came from the Ashkenazi Plymouth synagogue which was built in 1762, the earliest synagogue in the English speaking world. The Jewish community, which consisted mainly of German and Dutch immigrants, had been meeting since at least 1745.
The prize lot was expected to sell for £100,000, but the auction was well attended by the Jewish community and bidders pressed the price up to an impressive £175,000.
A Torah shield made in Exeter around 1765 by silversmiths Jason Holt and William Pearse sold for £21,000. This is the earliest one of its kind known, and one of several fine pieces created by Exeter silversmiths.
People often underestimate the value of religious silverware - a church communion cup was recently valued at £2m by the British Museum when it was looking to buy it. Religious items in general, including Judaica, can be extremely valuable.
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