The following description was prepared by William Gross:
The finials evolved from knobs at the upper end of the staves (Atzei Chaim) on which the Torah scroll is wound. Since the shape of the spherical finial recalled that of a fruit, it was called a tappu'aḥ, "apple," among the Jews of Spain and in the Sephardi Diaspora, and a rimmon, "pomegranate," in all other communities.
The earliest known reference to Torah finials occurs in a document from 1159, found in the Cairo Genizah, from which we learn that by the 12th-century finials were already being made of silver and had bells. Around the same time, Maimonides mentions finials in the Mishneh Torah (Hilkhot Sefer Torah 10:4). Despite the variations on the spherical shape which developed over the centuries and the addition of small bells around the main body of the finial, the spherical, fruit-like form was the basic model for the design of finials in Oriental and European communities.
A most significant variation appeared in 15th-century Spain, Italy, and Germany, where the shape of finials was influenced by that of various objects of church ritual, whose design often incorporated architectural motifs, The resulting tower-like structure, which seems to have appeared around the same time in different parts of Europe, became the main type of finial in 18th-century Germany and Italy, as well as Morocco, brought there by Jews expelled from Spain.
The niello work in the Caucuses was a specialty of the town of Kubachi in Dagestan. This pair of Torah finials, or "Rimmonim" in Hebrew, is an extremely interesting and rare type from the mountain city of Menjalis in Dagestan. The Jewish population belonged to the group of "tati" or mountain Jews, who had their own special language, as in the city of Kuba in Azerbaijan. The Rimmonim are decorated in fine niello work, with a variety of fantastic animals depicted. There exists in a private collection a singleton of the same type, probably from the same silversmith. But this is only known complete pair. This kind of niello work is typical of the region, but, as opposed to the situation in many Muslim countries, in this area, the silversmiths were not usually Jews. Niello work was the specialty of silversmiths in the town of Kubachi in Dagestan, even to this day. Most of the Jews from this area of the Caucuses have immigrated to Israel.
Inscription: THIS IS THE TORAH FINIALS OF ELKANAH SON OF..............SHLOMO..........MENJELIS, MAY HE REBUILD OUR CITY, AMEN