Page 63 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 35

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AFREN / AMSTERDAM
53
probably the first Hebrew prin ter to issue a type specimen
sheet showing what his repertoire consisted of.
Perhaps the high point of Athias’s productivity was the Bible
edition of 1661 for which he engaged the prominent Professor
Johannes Leusden of Utrecht as an editor, provided many manu­
scripts as a textual basis, and then published 3,000 copies of this,
the first Hebrew Bible to have the verses numbered. And all
copies of this lovely edition were sold within six years. Athias
was also very much involved in publishing Bible translations
and was a major exporter of English Bibles to England.
So outstanding were the Hebrew types cut for, and used by,
the many Hebrew printers in Amsterdam in this period that
their style was copied for many decades by Hebrew printers
throughout Europe. So renowned was Amsterdam that very
frequently printers in other cities printed on the title pages of
their books expressions like “as printed in Amsterdam” and
“with Amsterdam type.” Almost as frequently, these printers in
other places used a type size for the word “Amsterdam” so much
larger than the type size for the name of their own city, that many
a contemporary must have been misled—just as many a librarian
has been—into believing that the book was actually printed in
Amsterdam.
M O D E L FOR O T H E R C IT IE S
The influence of Amsterdam on other Hebrew presses was con­
siderable. In varying dgerees, the presses of Frankfurt am Main,
Sulzbach, Dessau, Hamburg, Dyhernfurth, and others which
became active in the second half of the seventeenth century,
consciously or not, imitated the type, the layouts, the woodcuts,
the title pages and other aspects of the Amsterdam model. Even
Prague, a long-established center of Ashkenazi printing, adopted
some of the type faces and other artistic elements from Amster­
dam. Perhaps it was Amsterdam’s success in the East European
market that led to all this emulation.
Amsterdam’s exciting “firsts” include the first Jewish periodical,
a newspaper in Spanish entitled
Gazeta de Am s terdam
which was
published from 1674 to 1699, judging from the scattered issues
that have survived. Soon thereafter, the first newspaper in Yid­
dish began to appear on a twice a week basis, the
D ins tag ische
oen Fraytagische K oe ran ten
(1686-87).