Ten Mistakes to Avoid When You’re Getting Started

I made a lot of mistakes when I first started collecting mezuzah cases and I would like to share some of them with you so hopefully you can avoid making the same ones that I made. Don’t want you to have to go through what I went through.

Here are some things to watch out for:

1. Be on the alert for FAKE Ilya Shor pieces. I have seen some mezuzah cases appear at auction over the past year with fake Ilya Schor marks. Ilya Schor mezuzahs have sold for an average of $35,000 over the past decade. Be careful and thoughtful if you see an Ilya Schor mezuzah case listed for $1000. It is probably too good to be true.

2. Watch out for UNSIGNED Ludwig Wolpert pieces. Wolpert signed almost everything he made starting in the 1920s. Two of his most famous mezuzahs were reproduced in Israel and then in Portugal after he moved to the US in 1956. A mezuzah is not an original Ludwig Wolpert pieces unless it is stamped Wolpert. I made this mistake several times.

3. Be aware of reproductions of 19th century European mezuzah cases. A number of 19th century eastern European pieces (some  with griffon designs) were reproduced in Israel in the second half of the 20th century. Be careful here as many of the auction houses can’t tell 19th and mid 20th century pieces apart. I have two really wonderful examples of 19th century reproductions made in Jerusalem and am happy with them but I know they were made in Jerusalem in the 1960s.

4. Be careful with Dan Givon’s mezuzah. It comes in silver plate and sterling silver. The sterling silver mezuzah is marked sterling and numbered 1 – 100. Some sellers confuse the sterling silver and silver plate mezuzah cases. I bought a silver plate mezuzah case that the seller guaranteed to be sterling silver that turned out to be a silver plate. On eBay, the silver plate mezuzah sells for $300 – $500 and the sterling silver for $2000.

5. Russian enamel mezuzahs are often not 19th century as advertised. Many were made in the past 30 years and have fake 19th century Russian hallmarks. If you go on alibaba.com and enter mezuzah as a search term, you’ll see a company that makes these reproductions. It’s unfortunate because many of the pieces are very beautiful and are beautifully crafted enamel and sterling. I got duped early on and now stay away from these mezuzahs.

6. Beware of Bezalel mezuzah cases. Beginners should stay away from buying vintage Bezalel mezuzahs. In the 1950s many companies stamped their silver filigree mezuzahs Bezalel so it takes experience and expertise to be able to identify genuine Bezalel mezuzahs. On another note, Boris Schatz commissioned a tin mezuzah in 1925 as a giveaway to donors and that mezuzah can often be found on eBay or Bidspirit for less than $50.

7. Check the crystal on Agam mezuzahs. There is an Agam mezuzah that is made with a Daum Crystal. If you are thinking of buying  one of these mezuzahs, please check the crystal carefully for chips. Try to buy this mezuzah with the original box and certificate of authentication. I found this out the hard way. The first Agam mezuzah that I bought had a chip in the Daum Crystal.

8. Watch out for electroform 925 mezuzahs. Some Israeli companies produced electroform silver mezuzah cases. In electroforming, a layer of silver is put on top of a resin form. Please check out any sterling silver .925 mezuzahs carefully before you buy them. I check the backs and the weight of sterling silver mezuzah cases before I buy them.

9. Beware of “vintage” Turkmenistan mezuzah cases. There are new mezuzah cases made in Turkmenistan that are sometimes represented as vintage. They are very attractive and there have been a flood of them listed on Bidspirit in the past year. They are not vintage and can be bought on Bidspirit for around $50.

10. Don’t assume that mezuzah descriptions on eBay are accurate. I love eBay and think it’s a great platform and it has over 5,000 mezuzahs listed on it. I buy a lot on eBay but most of my purchases are from sellers who have almost no clue about what they are selling. I use that to my advantage. But it can be a risk too when you are starting out.

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