Results tagged “antique dreidel”

Before plastic, dreidels were manufactured by casting from solid lead.  According to Sol Scharfstein the president of Ktav Publishing, the company started with his parent's idea to manufacture lead dreidels:

After a long search he found a tool and die maker who designed the world's only existing draydel casting machine. Lead is heated in a steel ladel till it melts. The molten lead is then poured into the closed mold. After 15 seconds, the lead sets, at which point the mold is opened and the hot draydel is removed. A good operator like Fannie produced about 75 draydels an hour. The first year was a great success and the exultant duo sold 25,000 lead draydel at 2 cents each, for a total of $500.00 Hallelujah! Life for Asher and Fannie was looking up.

According to the New York Times, Ktav now sells 400,000 dreidels every year.  I'm guessing that not of these are lead :).

Cast dreidels are generally well made because the shape of the piece can be precisely controlled.  Unfortunately, many of todays cast plastic dreidels are sold with a part line  going right across the tip of the dreidel.  A part line is the line between the two sides of the casting molds where a bit of material always oozes out.  This can be removed but these are cheap dreidels so this extra work is skipped.  In contrast, dreidels cast of sterling silver, pewter, brass, bronze, nambe or any other more expensive material typically have had the part line removed - and are are more likely to be well balanced.

Lead is out of vogue these days not only because its more expensive than plastic but also because of health concerns.  The dreidels below are remnants of a past era!

Cast Lead Dreidel Cast Lead Dreidel Cast Lead Dreidel Cast Lead Dreidel  
Lead  Dreidel supposedly from Eastern Europe, late 19th century.  Top and bottom are decorated with engraved ornamentation.  Measurements : Height: 4.2cm. / 1.65in. Weight : 17.8g. / 0.57oz. Price:  $750 (as of 12/16/08).  Available from Pasarel.

Cast Lead Dreidel Cast Lead Dreidel  
This vintage Israeli lead dreidel , was hand made by a jewish artist in Israel. Along with the letters are Words in Hebrew that state that the dreidel used to belong to the Bialik school.
Height:  2.54cm/1in. Diameter:  1.25cm/0.50in.  Price:  $49.99  (as of 12/16/08).  Available from Mir-El Antiques.

Cast Lead Dreidel  Cast Lead Dreidel
This early metal dreidel measures about 1" high and about ½ inches in diameter. Each Hebrew letter is embellished by a Star of David. It is unpolished.  Price:  $35 (as of 12/16/08).  Formerly available on Ebay.

Here are a couple of web sites that regularly sell antique dreidels.  Please note that I have not personally done business with these vendors - so this is just a list - not an endorsement! 

These dealers have received a positive review from a reader of this blog who purchased dreidels from them.

I have not heard any reviews about these dealers.

Also useful are these general ebay searches:

Apparently there are lots of fakes available on ebay and the internet - so beware! If you do purchase an antique dreidel, the best way to get help authenticating it is to contact a reputible antique judaica dealer.  

Ivory Dreidels

Here are a few antique bone or ivory dreidels that look like they are assembled from a couple turned and shaped parts.

Antique Ivory Dreidel Antique Ivory Dreidel

Turkmen Dreidel

Turkumen Dreidel Turkumen Dreidel Turkumen Dreidel 
Here is a unique looking dreidel hand crafted by an Israeli artist, originally from Turkmenistan according to the traditional Turkumen dreidel making style.  The silver dreidel has rubies and turqoise stones on the upper and lower part of its body.  Height -  6.8cm/2.6in   Diameter - 3.40c/1.25in.  Price  $150.00 (as of 12/1/08). Available from Mir-El Antiques.

Stone Dreidels

Stone isn't the first material that comes to mind for a dreidel - but here are two elegant examples.  Just don't try using them on grandma's glass table top.

Hasmonean Dreidel
The Hasmonean Dreidel

Designed by Israeli artist Michael Kupietzky this dreidel was created with Jerusalem Stone from the land of the Maccabees (Hanukkah celebrates the founding of the Hasmonean Empire by the Maccabee family.) 3x2 cm.  Available from the artist at            

Antique Agate Dreidel
Antique Italian Sterling Silver Dreidel

This Antique Italian Sterling Silver Dreidel was hand made by a jewish artist in Italy during the late 1920s. The dreidel body is made of agate stone. The base and handle are made of sterling silver. 2.54 cm/1 in heigh, 1.20cm/0.5in diameter. Price:  $50.00.  Available from Mir-El Antiques.

Dreidel Collecting

Antique Wooden DreidelDreidels are a great item to collect.  Prices range from a few cents for mass-produced dreidels to thousands of dollars for one-of-a-kind pieces so it's easy to start and there is plenty of room to grow your dreidel collection.

Here are a few articles about people with substantial collections:

Personally, I've been trying to find images of rare or unique wood dreidels (rare, unique and inexpensive would be even better).  Antique judaica stores seem to be the most promising sources so far.  I also found a few vintage dreidels on Ebay.

I've also been looking for worldwide sources of low-end dreidels - other than the United States, Israel and China.  So far I've been able to find examples from Germany, Russia, India, and Turkmenistan - some low end, some more expensive.