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It was commissioned by Thomas Newberry, editor of the Englishman’s Bible (1870) and well-travelled preacher, as the centrepiece of the 1887 Anglo-Jewish Historical Exhibition in the ‘Crush Rooms’ of the Royal Albert Hall.

The curiosity for all things sociological and anthropological during the late Victorian era included an interest in documenting the history of Jews in Britain, and this 12-week show was intended as a start. Newberry conducted a tour of Britain with his model, ostensibly to promulgate a better understanding of the scriptures in both Christians and Jews.

Unfortunately both Newberry and his audience had to presume that Solomon’s Temple actually existed, because no archaeological remains have been found. The craftsman, J.W. McKinnon had to make do with the architectural measurements (in cubits and reeds) as laid out in the final chapters of the book of Ezekiel for his 1:60 (1in to 5ft) scale construction in gilded wood and paper. However, he obviously believed in his work, taking three years to complete the temple – more time relative to scale than the six years (966-959BC) it took the Israelites to build the original.

One of the reasons for this was the number and detail of the appurtenances, including a host of miniature rabbi, altar candelabra, mobile incense burners, spare pillars and seraphim.

Measuring 4ft 2in long by 2ft 6in wide (1.27m x 76cm), he model was offered among the topographical pictures at Bonhams’ Knightsbridge salerooms on March 29, where it attracted interest from several Jewish dealers and one institution, the National Masonic Museum, above the estimate of £10,000-15,000, but it eventually sold to a Gentile dealer, acting on behalf of a private collector, at £36,000 (plus 15/10 per cent premium).