Page 60 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 35

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From Leon Templo’s work
on Solomon’s T emple.
Amsterdam, Judah ben
Mordecai and Samuel ben
Moses ha-Levi, 1650
itself the first ever in Amsterdam, perhaps because de Fonseca
did not actually know that he was second. There was apparently
not yet enough market for two Jewish presses, and only two
books were published by Menasseh’s rival before tha t business
For twenty-five years or more Menasseh ben Israel and his sons
printed Hebrew and Spanish books in Amsterdam. For some
years his son Joseph seems to have been in charge of the establish­
ment (1646-47) and then his other son Samuel (1648-52). In
1643-45, in fact, Elijah Aboab was titu lar head of the press.
But always Menasseh was there, as author of some books being
published, as editor, as proofreader, or in some way keeping
his hand in.
But his “monopoly” did not last long. Non-Jews as well as
Jews wanted a share of the growing activity. There were two
communities within Amsterdam, Sephardi and Ashkenazi, tha t
went more or less separate ways, and different printers tended
to care for the different needs. There was also the export busi­
ness, for Amsterdam books came to be prized as well-designed
and beautifully printed. Soon authors were coming to Amsterdam
or sending their manuscripts there to have them published.
T he following chart, developed from the unpublished biliogra-
phies of the late Moses Marx, give an indication of the Hebrew
printing activity in Amsterdam in the seventeenth and early
part of the eighteenth centuries.