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Obj. ID: 36306  JMP Franck Esther Scroll, Prague (?), ca. 1700

© Jewish Museum in Prague (JMP), Photographer: N/A, -.

4 image(s)

JMP Franck Esther Scroll | Unknown
Object Detail
ca. 1700
Synagogue active dates
Reconstruction dates
Artist/ Maker
Franck, Philipp Jakob (engraver)
(17th–18th centuries) was a Christian engraver, possibly from Augsburg, who later settled in Prague and was married there in 1696. He collaborated with Anton Franz Brechler and is known as a maker of Christian religious graphics and illustrations for Esther scrolls. Franck used different signatures which can be discovered even in one and the same work.
Historical Origin
Unknown |
Unknown |
Franck scrolls|

The family of most likely Prague Esther scrolls from the early 18th century whose borders were at least partly designed by the German engraver, Philipp Jakob Franck (life dates unknown). The decorative scheme opens with several figurative scenes from the Book of Esther narrative; one of them is signed by Franck. The upper and lower margins are adorned with the lavishly decorated printed border composed of acanthus leaves with uncovered women busts, peacocks and possibly Phoenixes. In the central part of each margin, a decorative cartouche with a landscape is placed. The text panels are interspersed with twisted columns. Above them, there are miniature depictions of the episodes from the Esther story and its protagonists or flower-filled vases. None of the exemplars is colored.

Period Detail
Ink on parchment (printed decoration, hand-written text)
Material Stucture
Material Decoration
Material Bonding
Material Inscription
Material Additions
Material Cloth
Material Lining
Tesserae Arrangement
Construction material
The scroll: 300-312x2553 mm.
The length of the sheets in the scroll: 1) 678 mm, 2) 590 mm, 3) 590 mm, 4) 695 mm.
Panel Measurements

The first membrane is especially poorly preserved; a substantial part of the opening decoration is lost. Other damaged places in the border on subsequent sheets can be found.

The text in the scroll is barely visible.

Documented by CJA
Surveyed by CJA
Present Usage
Present Usage Details
Condition of Building Fabric
Architectural Significance type
Historical significance: Event/Period
Historical significance: Collective Memory/Folklore
Historical significance: Person
Architectural Significance: Style
Architectural Significance: Artistic Decoration
Urban significance
Significance Rating

This scroll is adorned with an engraved border designed by Philipp Jakob Franck in which the Hebrew text of the Book of Esther is hand-copied by a scribe.

The scroll starts with a partially-preserved panel composed of narrative scenes; however, only two episodes from the Esther story are still visible. These two scenes are Mordecai giving Hatach the letter for Esther (Es. 4:7-8) and King Ahasuerus's sleepless night (Es. 6:1) which also includes an illustration of a fountain within the palace gardens. Elongated cartouches containing the Hebrew inscriptions are added to the scenes. The illustrations are labeled, but their wording is not the same in all surviving examples of this type of megillah. Additionally, the lower-left corner of the 2nd illustration features an inscription in the Latin alphabet (see "Signature"). The upper and lower margins are both decorated with the same pattern throughout the scroll. The pattern features a composition of dense acanthus leaves in which nude busts, decorative cartouches containing landscapes, and birds (possibly phoenixes) are woven. The text is inscribed in rectangular panels separated by twisted columns. Above the columns are flower-filled vases and narrative scenes from the Purim story that are also labeled in Hebrew (the sequence of these illustrations is not the same in all preserved versions of this type of megillah). Four other narrative scenes from the Book of Esther are printed one under the other at the end of the scroll. In the 2nd and 3rd scenes, elongated cartouches for inscriptions are incorporated.


The Book of Esther in Hebrew


The scroll is formed of 4 sheets containing 16 columns of the text with 25 lines except for col. 14 with 16 lines (11 of them containing Haman's sons section are divided into two parts).

Every membrane contains 4 columns of text.

The text is inscribed in Hebrew square Ashkenazi script, in faded brown ink, on the flesh side of each parchment membrane.

The letters ח (Es. 1:6) and ת (Es. 9:29) are slightly bigger than an average letter in the scroll. Other enlarged and diminished letters are included in col. 14.

In col. 8 the letters of the Tetragrammaton are enlarged and bolded.

The ruling - made with a hardpoint - is almost invisible.

The membranes in the scroll are stitched together.

Number of Lines
Hebrew Numeration
Blank Leaves
Façade (main)
Location of Torah Ark
Location of Apse
Location of Niche
Location of Reader's Desk
Location of Platform
Temp: Architecture Axis
Arrangement of Seats
Location of Women's Section
Direction Prayer
Direction Toward Jerusalem
The signature of the engraver appears in one of the narrative scenes at the beginning of the scroll. In the lower-left corner, on the checkered floor, the short Latin formula "Franck fec: Prag" - "made by Franck [in] Prague" - can be read.


Scribal Notes
Decoration Program
Summary and Remarks

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 former number of the scroll is Ms 452. Acquired from a depository.
Main Surveys & Excavations

The images of the scroll are available on http://collections.jewishmuseum.cz/index.php/Detail/Object/Show/object_id/221244 (accessed on 25.10.2020).

Olga Sixtova, O svitku / Form of the Scroll [katalog k výstavě konané v Galerii Roberta Guttmanna Židovského muzea v Praze od 22. června do 26. července 2006]”, Praha 2006, 36.

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.

Short Name
Full Name
Dagmara Budzioch | 2020
Dagmara Budzioch | 2020
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