The scroll opens and closes with a hand-drawn coat of arms of the Foa family executed in a pen and black ink. The text columns are surrounded by acanthus leaves and floral motifs. The lower margins are filled with 26 cartouches containing figurative scenes from the narrative of the Book of Esther; some of the episodes are pictured twice or three times in the scroll. The cartouches are interspersed by the interlaced pattern similar to the ornamentation of scrolls representing Gaster I type (in the Index see "Gaster I type Esther scrolls"). In most cases, the episodes are with no direct relation to the sections inscribed above them, therefore, it is difficult to interpret some of them unambiguously. The decoration of the scroll can be a later addition. The illustrations represent two styles of drawing and different palettes.
It seems that the illustrations were executed by two artists and some of them seem to be based on the episodes depicted in the scrolls representing Gaster I type (in the Index see "Gaster I type Esther scrolls").
The drawings were sketched in pencil (some remains of sketches are still visible), later the lines in black ink were drawn, and the outlines were colored with paints.
The opening and final decorations imitate engravings.
C | Coat of arms
O | Ornamentation: | Endless knot
T | Title---page
C | Columns
O | Ornamentation: | Architectonic motif
O | Ornamentation: | Cartouche
F | Family emblem | Foa family emblem (two lions leaning on the palm tree with Magen David) (See also under Printer's mark)
O | Ornamentation: | Foliate and floral ornaments | Floral motif
O | Ornamentation: | Ornament
The length of the membranes in the scroll: 1) ca. 600 mm, 2) ca. 650 mm, 3) ca. 645 mm, 4) ca. 645 mm, 5) ca. 640 mm, 6) 535 mm.
Dimensions of the selected details in the scroll:
- decorations between the text panels: 22 mm (width);
- opening decoration: 192x130 mm;
- final decoration: 205x145 mm;
- upper margins: ca. 20 mm (height);
- lower margins: ca. 30 mm (height);
- cartouches: 29x89 mm;
- cartouche no. 20: 29x65 mm;
- interlaced patterns: 27x73 mm;
- columns of text: 160x133 mm;
- an average letter: 5,5 mm (height);
- letters in col. 22 and the letter ת in Es. 9:29: 8 mm (height);
- spaces between the lines of the text: 4 mm.
The roller: 355 mm (height).
In general, the manuscript is preserved in fair condition; in the best condition are illustrations.
The state of preservation of particular membranes is different.
The beginning of the scroll is yellow and very smooth.
The membranes are crumpled in some places and due to this, the text is seriously damaged (especially on the first membrane). Additionally, the sheets are folded in some places.
There are some stains on the membranes.
The text is in poor condition, but it is legible.
The roller lacks its lower finial.
The Book of Esther in Hebrew
The scroll is formed of 7 membranes containing a total of 26 columns of the text with 17 lines each, except for col. 22 which includes 11 lines divided into two half-columns.
The number of columns per sheet: nos. 1 and 7 - 3 columns, nos. 2-6 - 4 columns.
The text is written in Hebrew square Italian script in brown ink on the flesh side of parchment sheets that are very thick and stiff. The sides of the membranes are different - the side of the text and decorations is brighter and smoother than the blank side that is slightly yellow and less smooth.
Tagin are added to the letters in cols. 1 and 22.
The letter ח (Es. 1:6) is highlighted by its form - it is formed of two parts joined with a roof. The letter ת (Es. 9:29) is enlarged. Other enlarged and diminished letters are included in col. 22.
There are some corrections and erasures in the text; they were done with a different tool and in black ink. Underneath one word in col. 3, a layer of white paint (?) can be discerned.
Col. 21 contains numerous elongated letters.
The ruling - horizontal and vertical lines - is made with a hardpoint; upper and lower lines are marked.
The membranes in the scroll are stitched together.
The former numbers of the manuscript are 6713, B-403, and C-254/5.
It is very likely that until around 1932 the scroll belonged to the collection of Sally Kirschstein.
Online collection of the ritual objects from the E. Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute is available here: https://cbj.jhi.pl/documents/603815/0/ (accessed on 12.07.2021).
Dagmara Budzioch, The Decorated Esther Scrolls from the Museum of the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw and the Tradition of Megillot Esther Decoration in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries – An Outline [Polish: Dekorowane zwoje Estery z Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego w Warszawie na tle tradycji dekorowania megilot Ester w XVII i XVIII wieku. Zarys problematyki], Warsaw 2019, 1:140-148, 2: 63-50.
Die Judaica-Sammlung S. Kirschstein Berlin. Kultgeräte für Haus und Synagoge, Manuskripte, Gemälde, Miniaturen, Graphik, Urkunden, Bücher. Versteigerung in der Galerie Hugo Helbing München (...) [12–14 Juli 1932]. Ausstellung in der Galerie Hugo Helbing München (...) [8–11 Juli 1932], München 1932, 10–11.