Page 23 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 39

Basic HTML Version

MEHLMAN / ANTIQUE HEBREW BOOKS
17
PRODUCTION PROBLEMS
A related problem is poor prin ting which makes read ing d if­
ficult and which leads to neglect o f the book. We know o f a case o f
the confiscation o f a first edition (or of-the in terrup tion o f its
printing) because o f b lu rred type. Joseph , son o f Abraham ha-
Kohen, who lived in Corfu, relates in his introduction to
Ta’am
Le-Mussaf Takkanat Shabbat
(Venice, 1604):
. . It was sent to
press by Madam . . . in Kurugeshme, and I was unhappy with the
p rinting because the letters were b lu rred and unreadable. So tha t
my labors should not be wasted, I was fo rc e d . . . to go to Venice in
o rde r to rep rin t it.” Not a single copy o f the first edition is known.
(e)
Specialfate.
It is worthwhile to consider the special fate o f a
number o f books whose printing was never completed. Because
they were incomplete they were deemed un im portan t and so
were not preserved. At times only fragments o r individual pages
remained, suggesting tha t the p rinting was in terrup ted . T he re
are many such books and some o f them have been listed sepa­
rately.5 A number o f additions may be made to the list:
Arba’ah
Turim,
by Jacob Ben Asher (Salonika, p rio r to 1540; press o f Don
Yehudah Gedaliah);
Pize Ohev
(a commentary on Job) by Israel
Najara (probably Kurugeshme, 1597);
Sefer Torah Or
by Samuel
Kohen (Venice, 1600), o f which pages 308-360 on Exodus were
p rinted and have been retained only in a few copies (almost all
copies conclude with the end o f Genesis).
O f books tha t were p rinted in installments only a few complete
copies have been preserved. For example, the book
Ha-Pardess
and the prayerbook with
Mishnat Gur-Aryeh
by Aryeh Leib Epstein
(Koenigsberg, 1759-65), which was issued in fascicle installments
because o f lack o f funds — are scarce and usually incomplete.
Books tha t appeared in limited editions are unquestionably
rare . In 1743 the re appeared in Amsterdam
Sefer La-Yesharim
Tehillah,
a d ram a by Moses Hayyim Luzzatto. It was published in
hono r o f the wedding o f one o f his followers and was apparen tly
p rinted in 50 copies for distribution among the celebrants. Some
two hund red years later, in 1951, the re appeared a collection o f
poems by Solomon Ibn Gabirol “in hono r o f Micah (Schocken),
5 A.M. Habermann,
“Ha-Kol Taluy Be-Mazal Afilu Sefer," Areshet,
vol. I l l (1961),
pp. 102-143.