The first sheet of the scroll includes the opening decoration and four columns of text (nos. 1-4) inscribed within the printed border.
The opening decoration is composed of a crown-topped cartouche supported by two standing angels and three scenes from the Book of Esther placed one under the other. Hebrew inscriptions are added in the elongated cartouches in the lower part of the illustrations.
1. A man holding a book before the enthroned King Ahasuerus (possibly alluding to Es. 6:1) with the triumph of Mordechai in the background (Es. 6:11) labeled with the wording not relevant to its meaning המלך מהדו ועד כוש.
2. Mordecai giving Hatach a letter for Esther (Es. 4:7-8) labeled the wording not relevant to its meaning מרדכי יושב בשער. There is also an inscription in the Latin alphabet: "Franck fec: Prag" (see "Signature").
3. King Ahasuerus's sleepless night (Es. 6:1) with the palace gardens (featuring a fountain) in the background.
Just above the twisted columns, there are: a flower-filled vase (partly visible in this image), illustrations of King Ahasuerus with his scepter (possibly alluding to Es. 1:1), a flower-filled vase, Queen Vashti with her scepter, and a flower-filled vase (half of it is printed on the second membrane).
Length of the sheets in the scroll: 1) 670 mm, 2) 585 mm, 3) 595 mm, 4) ca. 515 mm.
An average letter is 3 mm high as well as spaces between the subsequent lines of the text.
For dimensions of other details in the scroll see ID 37869.
The roller: 450 mm (height).
O | Ornamentation: | Cartouche
C | Crown
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Ahasuerus listening to the Book of Records (Es. 6:1-3)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Mordecai's triumph (Es. 6:11)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Hatach before Mordecai (Es. 4:5-7)
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Sleepless night of the king (Es. 6:1)
L | Landscape
A | Acanthus Leaf
H | Human Figure | Bust (Human figure)
W | Woman | Nude
B | Bird
P | Phoenix
C | Columns | Twisted columns
V | Vase | Vase with flowers
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | *Esther's Story Characters (depicted not in narrative scenes): | Ahasuerus, the king
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | *Esther's Story Characters (depicted not in narrative scenes): | Vashti, the queen
In general, the manuscript is preserved in good condition, although the print in the opening section is slightly damaged; slight damages in other parts of the prints can be seen too.
The text is well preserved in the scroll.
There are some stains on the membranes.
The upper edges of the membranes are not straight.
The traces of metal plates are well visible on the blank side of parchment membranes.
The Book of Esther in Hebrew
The scroll is formed of 4 sheets containing a total of 15 columns of text with 28 lines each, except for col. 13 which has 11 lines divided into two half-columns.
Membranes nos. 1-3 contain 4 columns of the text and the fourth membrane includes 3 columns.
The text is inscribed in the Hebrew square Ashkenazi script with tagin in brown and black ink on the flesh side of parchment membranes that are rather thick, grey, and suede.
The letters ח (Es. 1:6) and ת (Es. 9:29) are enlarged and bolded. Other enlarged and diminished letters are included in col. 13. Additionally, in cols. 2, 7, 8, and 10 enlarged and bolded letters marking the Tetragrammaton can be seen.
The ruling - made with a hard point along with the sheets - is barely visible, in some places only.
The pricking is invisible.
The membranes in the scroll are stitched together.
Around 15 megillot featuring the same border are housed in private and institutional collections. Yet another exemplar used to be a part of the Gross Family Collection (no. 081.012.044) but in 2003, it was stolen from the Beit Hatfutsot Museum in Tel Aviv (Hilfe erbeten: Judaica Diebstahl: http://www.judentum.net; accessed on 14.12.2018).
There are also two scrolls embellished with the same border but with texts other than the Book of Esther.
The cartouche supported by angels, in the upper part of the opening panel, is filled with a Hebrew inscription of the previous owner of the scroll, Moses:
מגילה זאת שייך ... משה
The scrolls featuring the same border are described in:
Dagmara Budzioch, Verzierte Ester-Rollen – illustriert von dem Prager Kupferstecher Philipp Jakob Franck [in:] Zwischen Offenbarung und Kontemplation: Die Wolfenbütteler hebräischen Schriftrollen, mit Beiträgen von Dagmara Budzioch und Ad Stijnman (Wolfenbütteler Forschungen), Wiesbaden 2021, pp. 106-117.
A Journey through Jewish Worlds: Highlights from the Braginsky Collection of Hebrew Manuscripts and Printed Books, eds. Evelyn M. Cohen, Emile Schrijver, Sharon Mintz, Amsterdam 2009, 266–267.
http://braginskycollection.com/scrolls/prague/ (accessed on 21.09.2020).
A Magnificent Illustrated Esther Scroll [Prague ca. 1700], lot 169: http://www.sothebys.com; accessed on 14.12.2018.
A Magnificent Illustrated Esther Scroll [Prague: ca. 1700], lot 24: http://www.sothebys.com; accessed on 14.12.2018.