Jewish Museum in Prague
of Metal works
curator: Jaroslav Kuntos
The core of the Museum's metal collection took shape around the time of the Museum's establishment in 1906, in connection with the reconstruction of the Jewish Town. The form of this collection can, in part, be reconstructed with the help of inventory cards from the war-time catalogue. It was probably somewhat diverse in makeup, since it contained pieces acquired from destroyed synagogues as well as various donations from individuals and organizations. In view of their historical and artistic value, however, a portion of the objects acquired in this period constitute to this day the pinnacle of the current collection.
The most significant increase in size of the collection was recorded within the framework of the then Central Jewish Museum in 1942-1945; at this time, the Museum became the destination for shipments of nearly all the furnishings from synagogues in the Nazi Protectorate, as well as a large amount of objects confiscated from households and associations.
In the immediate post-war period, between 1945-1950, a portion of the synagogue furnishings was returned to the re-established Jewish communities for ritual use. This involved primarily sets of Torah ornaments - shields, finials, crowns and pointers (several hundred pieces), as well as a smaller amount of other objects necessary for divine service. Post-1945 acquisitions are not great in number, mostly being smaller pieces from households that had somehow survived the war-time events. The more significant acquisitions that were made were mostly of objects from defunct post-war Jewish communities that had passed through the Museum once before.
The Museum's collection of Metal works includes (among other things) over 700 Torah shields, an equal amount of Torah finials, almost 170 Torah crowns, almost 1,200 Torah pointers, over 300 alms boxes, over 400 cups and many smaller sets of Chanukkah and Sabbath candle-sticks, eternal lights, Levite laver and basin sets, Seder plates, etrog containers, ritual spice boxes, Burial Society objects. In terms of material, most of the objects are made of silver, especially with respect to synagogue furnishings. In addition, the collection of Metal works incorporates smaller collections of glassware, pottery and synagogue furniture.
The core collection consists of sets of Torah ornaments - shields, crowns, finials and pointers, mostly from the first third of the 19th century. The oldest items from these sets that can be dated are a pair of Torah shields stemming from Prague (1708), while the most recent are from the 1930s. The very earliest piece in the collection that can be reliably dated is a Burial Society beaker stemming from Augsburg that was produced in 1595-1600.
At present, the collection is being researched and documented. The illustrated part of the documentation is to be made accessible in digital form at a later date.