German Havdalah Spice Box

Jewish Antiques Appraisal Show
Jonathan Greenstein

Dear Jonathan,

This havdalah spice box, which I've been told is made of German silver, has been handed down in my family. A wedding gift from Morris and Rose Dzialynski to Morris' brother Phillip and Mary Dzialynski, who were married in Savannah, Georgia, it is inscribed "M.&R. D. to P.&M. D. April 23, 1865."

My great, great grandfather Phillip came to America circa 1850 from Posen, Germany and in 1853 brought over the rest of his family, including his parents and several siblings, Morris among them. They settled in Florida, with a sojourn in Savannah during the war. Phillip took care of the family while Morris was in the Confederate Army. Morris went on to serve several terms as mayor of Jacksonville and as a municipal court judge.

I would be interested to know the spice box's value.

Richard B. Herzog, Jr.
The Temple, Atlanta, Georgia

Dear Richard:

It's wonderful that this spice tower is connected to Civil War-time American history by usage and inscription; however, the style indicates it was made in Germany, probably Berlin, c. 1840. I saw an identical German piece in the London Jewish Museum catalog.

From its color, I can see it is made from 800 (80%) silver, typical of German craftsmanship then and now. Had the piece been created in America, it would have been coin (90%) silver or sterling (92.5%) silver and oxidized differently.

The spice box may have been ordered from overseas, as that was common practice for affluent Jews of the era, or brought to the States by a family member. Either way, it was a mass-produced ritual object. Value: $500.

Jonathan Greenstein, founder
J. Greenstein & Co., Inc.

Dear Jonathan,

Thank you. We intend to continue with tradition and keep the spice box in the family.