The scroll represents the type called Gaster I (for the explanation of the name see "Additional Remarks") that are lavishly decorated megillot produced in a mixed technique in which decorative border is printed as copper engraving and colored by hand whereas the Hebrew text of the Book of Esther is penned by a scribe. The opening section is precisely filled with a rich decoration formed of tendrils, flowers, and animals that surround the cartouche. The upper and lower margins are adorned with repeating endless knot motifs alternating with 20 cartouches enclosing one up to three scenes that chronicle the narrative of the Book of Esther. The ten text panels, in which nineteen text columns are included, are interspersed by stylized floral decoration. The same scheme repeats on all three membranes forming each scroll from this group. The pattern ends with a symmetrical decoration composed of large flowers and foliate ornaments surrounding a cartouche. The manuscript from the NL collection is an exception among the Gaster I scrolls because in each text panel only one wide column is inscribed, while in other exemplars, the text is inscribed in two columns per panel and only the last panel contains a single column.
Membranes are stitched
The name "Gaster I" was introduced by Mendel Metzger in an article entitled "The Earliest Engraved Italian Megilloth" published in the "Bulletin of the John Rylands Library" (48:2 (1966), 381‒432, esp. 390). The type was named after Moses Gaster (1856–1939), the rabbi, scholar, and manuscript collector of whose collections a scroll adorned with this pattern formed a part (at present this is the scroll Gaster Hebrew MS 710 stored in the John Rylands Library in Manchester). At least 25 manuscripts representing this type are still extant and are preserved in private and institutional collections. For descriptions of other scrolls representing the same pattern see IDs: 61, 1098, 21702, 34125, 34642, 36105, 36150.
The pattern features a number of decorative elements common with the scrolls of Klagsbald type (see ID 31, 34766).
Bibliography concerning the scroll from the NL:
National Library of Israel (catalogue)
Bibliography concerning other scrolls decorated with the same border: