OBJECT OF THE MONTH – May 2009
Case for dowry cash
This two-leaf brown leather case is adorned on the edges with a gilt pressed motif. Its inner and outer sides are made of velvet, which is decorated with embroidery done with gold and silver bullion and yarns. On one side is a pair of winged cherubs holding a wreath, under which a man’s hand places a ring on a bride’s finger; in the lower part is a burning altar. On the other side is an embroidered monogram (‘N.P.’) in a floral frame. Inside the case are two compartments made of cream-coloured silk which are bordered with leather, on whose outer sides are embroidered very fine silk motifs of Austrian banknotes of the period.
This item was used as a decorative case for dowry cash which was given to newlyweds after their wedding ceremony. It came from the family of Dr. Viktor Pollak, who was born in Vienna to Dr. Josef Pollak and Valerie (neé Strauss) on 17 March 1917. After the death of his parents, Viktor Pollak was raised by his uncle in the northern Bohemian town of Postoloprty. After the Nazi occupation of the Sudetenland, he left for Prague, from where he was deported to Terezín. He survived the hardships of war and in 1966 emigrated from Czechoslovakia via Denmark to the Federal Republic of Germany, from where he later left for Saskatoon in Canada, becoming employed as a technical specialist. This unique item with its interesting iconography was not represented in the collections of the Jewish Museum in Prague prior to 2008, when it was generously donated to the museum.
Case for dowry cash brown leather, velvet, metal thread
145 x 110 mm
Austria-Hungary, c. mid-19th century
Acquired by the Jewish Museum in Prague in 2008 as a gift from Mirka and Viktor Pollak.
Inv. No. JMP 179.254
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