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 a 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. In the scroll from the JHI collection, the right edge is trimmed into a multifoil shape. The upper and lower margins are filled 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 background behind the cartouches and endless knot patterns in this scroll is left colorless. 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 composition ends with a symmetrical decoration composed of large flowers and foliate ornaments surrounding a cartouche. The right edge is trimmed into a multifoil shape.
The scroll consists of 3 membranes with 19 columns written in 9 double text panels and a single panel. They contain 22 lines per column, except for col. 18 with 23 lines and col. 16 with 11 lines (the section lists the names of Haman's sons that are inscribed in a popular layout, in a larger script). The membranes contain respectively 6, 8, and 5 text columns.
Written on the flesh side in a small, square Italian script with tagim, in brown-black ink.
The ruling is visible in the places with not text and decoration and on the blank side of membranes.
Pricking is not discernible.
Membranes in the scroll are sewn by sinew threads.
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 Judaica 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, 1441, 21702, 34125, 34642, 35105, 36150.
The pattern features a number of decorative elements common with the scrolls of Klagsbald type (see ID 31, 34766).
Originally the cartouches and the endless knot motifs could be painted gold; some traces of paint are still visible on the first membrane.
The opening edge of the scroll is cut in the shape of a multifoil arch, while its final edge is cropped straight and is perforated with four holes which were probably used for holding the (missing) rod.
The word "Esther" is written in a Latin cursive script (in pencil) on the recto side of the opening edge of the scroll.
The former no. of the manuscript: 3944.
Bibliography concerning the scroll from the JHI:
Dagmara Budzioch, Dekorowane zwoje Estery z Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego w Warszawie na tle tradycji dekorowania megillot Ester w XVII i XVIII wieku. Zarys problematyki, Warszawa 2019, 1:99-119, 2:64-69.
Dagmara Budzioch, "An Illustrated Scroll of Esther from the Collection of the Jewish Historical Institute as an Example of the Gaster I Megilloth," Kwartalnik Historii Żydów 2013, no. 3 (247), 533–547.
Marian Fuks, Zygmunt Hoffman, Maurycy Horn, Żydzi polscy. Dzieje i kultura, Warszawa 1982, 102.
Online collection of the ritual objects from the E. Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute is available on http://cbj.jhi.pl/collections/964689
Bibliography concerning other scrolls decorated with the same border:
Bodea Cornelia, Treasures of Jewish Art. The 1673 Illuminated Scroll of Esther Offered to a Romanian Hierarch, Iaşi–Oxford–Palm Beach–Portland 2002.
A Journey through Jewish Worlds: Highlights from the Braginsky Collection of Hebrew Manuscripts and Printed Books, eds. Evelyn M. Cohen, Emile Schrijver, Sharon Liberman Mintz, Amsterdam 2009, 240-241.
Schöne Seiten. Jüdische Schriftkultur aus der Braginsky Collection, eds. Emile Schrijver, Falk Wiesemann, Evelyn M. Cohen, Sharon Liberman Mintz, Menahem Schmeltzer, Zurich 2011, 262-263.
Schröder Anneliese, Synagoga. Kultgeräte und Kunstwerke von der Zeit der Patriarchen bis zur Gegenwart, Städtische Kunsthalle Recklinghausen, 3. November 1960 – 15. Januar 1961, Recklinghausen 1961, object B 64.
Synagoga. Jüdische Altertümer Handschriften und Kultgeräte. Historisches Museum Frankfurt am Main, 17. Mai – 16. Juli 1961, Frankfurt am Main 1961, object 124.
Mendel Metzger, The Earliest Engraved Italian Megilloth, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 1966, 48/2, 381–432.