It’s easy to get started collecting mezuzahs. Here are some steps to take:

Decide what to collect. It’s good to focus so you’ll need to decide what mezuzahs to collect. I collect artist made mezuzahs produced after the state of Israel was created in 1948. You should do some research and figure out what kind of mezuzahs are you interested in then decide if you want to collect mezuzahs from a specific artist, time period, or country. Once you know what you’re looking for, you can start to narrow down your search. 

Here are three examples of areas of mezuzah collecting you can start with. I have focused on areas where mezuzahs are available in the market and where good deals are available if you do your homework and are patient:

If you have a modest budget of $250 consider starting your collection with brass mezuzahs made in  Israel in the 1950s and 1960s. Most were designed by artists and produced in workshops and small factories. Companies include Pal Bell, Nordia, Tamar and Heppman. Many are simply stamped Made in Israel.  They are available in the market, beautiful and are inexpensive. I hunt for deals on these mezuzahs on eBay and Bidspirit and pay between $10-$15 each.

Third from right is a tin mezuzah made by Bezalel. The rest are brass mezuzah cases made in Israel in the 1950s and 1960s. You can find these online on eBay or an Israeli auction house for less than $25 each if you are patient.

If you have a bigger budget, then another option is to collect living artists: It is a lot of fun to work with artists who are active and make handmade works of art. A good place to start is American artists: Ruth Shapiro, Aimee Golant, Lisa Slovis, Sherri Cohen, Anika Smulovitz, Joy Stember and Frann Addison. All of these artists make handmade mezuzahs and will often make yours to order.  Their works start at about $75 and range to about $250 but most are in the $175 – $250 range. A few are higher. The mezuzahs are beautiful works of art and are a great value for the money. You can buy some of these works at auction, but they don’t come up often so it is easier to buy directly from the artists and supplement your collection with auction finds. I did manage to find a Ruth Shapiro mezuzah on eBay for $45 a few years ago.

Finally, you can also reach for the top: collect top quality, handmade, sterling silver mezuzah cases. They will be expensive and hard to find but are prestigious and undervalued relative to their quality and rarity. After all, a Ilya Schor mezuzah sold for over $56,000 at Sothebys. Look for Sari Srulovitch, Yaakov Greenvurcel, Arie Ofir, Dan Givon, Swed, Dabbah, Hadad, Bier, Yemini, Itzhak Luvaton and Avi Biran as examples. Focus on their best quality, handmade, sterling silver mezuzahs.  Many of the mezuzot in this category are expensive at retail (Dan Givon and Yemini Solomon are $6000 each) but if you are patient, you can buy some of these at auction (on eBay, Bidspirit, Liveauctioneers or Invaluable) for significantly less. I enjoy getting great deals on these because many are put up to auction by precious metal dealers who don’t exactly know what they are. I paid $100 for my Arie Ofir mezuzah on eBay.

Top left: Dan Givon, Top right: Carmel Shabi, Bottom left: Yemini, Bottom right: Arie Ofir

Learn where to buy mezuzahs. There are many different places to buy mezuzahs, including online retailers, Judaica stores, and even flea markets. Do some research to find the best places to buy mezuzahs that fit your budget and collecting goals. Click here to read my blog on buying mezuzahs online on eBay, Bidspirit, LiveAuctioneers and Invaluable.

Set goals for your collection.  What artists do you want to collect? Do you want to focus on handmade or studio made mezuzahs or both? Do you enjoy mezuzahs made of a particular metal? What is your budget? You should set goals that help you stay organized and focused as you build your collection. My goal this year is to focus more on working directly with artists. 

 

 

Three of my recent acquisitions by Israeli sculptor Eran Ben Yelid (2023).  He is ArtEran on Etsy or art.eran on Instagram.

 Display your collection. Once you have a collection of mezuzahs, you’ll need to decide how to display them. You can display them in a curio cabinet, on a shelf, or on the doorposts of your home. I learned that it is important to see mezuzahs in order to learn what you do and don’t like. For example, I prefer to hang big mezuzahs (at least six inches) on my doorposts so I can see them and admire them better. The way you display your collection will depend on your personal taste and the size of your collection.

A shelf in my display case . Background left to right: Luigi del Monte, Netaf, Arie Ofir, Swed Masters, Carmel Shabi. Foreground left to right: Ludwig Wolpert, Peter Ein Hod, Arie Ofir, Baruch Kraus (2), David Gumbel

 

Here are some additional tips for starting a mezuzah collection:

    • Start small. Don’t feel like you have to buy all of your mezuzahs at once. Start with a few that you really love and then add to your collection as you find more that you like.

    • Get smart. Read as much as you can, learn the artists and their works. Try to get a copy of Belle Rosenbaum’s book “Upon Thy Doorposts” (1995) that is a reference guide to about 100 artists and their mezuzahs. It’s out of print but sometimes available on amazon or eBay. Also check out the mezuzahs displayed online at the Gross Family Collection: https://cja.huji.ac.il/gross/search.php?submited=submited&free_text=mezuzah

    • Get to know the artists. It takes time to build a great mezuzah collection and it’s important to get to know the artists. Explore the artists listed here and visit the American Guild of Judaic Art (www.jewishart.org) to discover more. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t find the perfect mezuzah right away. Just keep looking and eventually you’ll find the perfect pieces for your collection.

    • Have fun! Collecting mezuzahs should be enjoyable. I love the thrill of the chase and paying  a $100 for a $1000 mezuzah. If you’re not having fun, then you’re less likely to stick with it. So relax, have fun, and enjoy the process of building your collection.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *