I grew up collecting things: old buttons, matchbook covers, and Madame Alexander dolls. While these items were interesting to me for a short period, it was not until I discovered Judaica that I found an enduring fascination with collecting. While some collectors of Judaica are not Jewish, I find connecting to my Jewish roots is part of why this particular genre of collecting has been part of my life for decades. The passion built slowly. I began collecting dreidels when I was a teenager and gradually moved on to more valuable Judaica items.
Determining the Value of JudaicaThat brings up the question of who or what determines the value of a piece of Judaica. It’s easy for a person to know what is valuable to him or herself, but knowing what is valuable to someone else is tricky.Anything pertaining to the Jewish religion–Passover Seder plates, Kiddush cups, books, maps of Israel–can be classified as Judaica. All of these items can range from being relatively worthless to being objectively valuable.
A seasoned collector will know the difference between these extremes in value. The value is determined by a combination of the availability of the item, its condition, its age, and its importance in terms of history and art. A novice collector will usually have to depend on using credible sources to know the true value of an item. If the goal is to begin or augment a Judaica collection with high value items, it is imperative to use expert guidance in making purchases.
Deciding What Judaica to CollectGenerally, antique Judaica–especially high quality sterling silver–will be worth more than newer items and reproductions. Authentic antique Judaica can be pricey, but it also holds its value and appreciates steadily.If a collector has a limited budget but is attracted to collecting silver items, it might be better to start with more modern pieces of silver, which tend to be less expensive to purchase. Another approach is to focus on small silver items from a particular era, such as the early days of Israel statehood.
Silver plated and porcelain items can also be wise choices for collecting. Just as there is a range in sterling silver prices, collectors can find attractive items at both ends of the price scale.
Collecting Judaica That You LikeThe most important consideration in is to focus on the items that please you aesthetically or delight you in some way. This allows you to enjoy the intrinsic value of the items in the collection, while building a valuable Judaica collection.