Page 130 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 44

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Ashkenazic rabbinic
are both used for Yiddish; in Verona, in
1595;28 in Hanau, in 1615,29 and many more.
Much remains to fill out the picture I have drawn; I think, how­
ever that the evidence will support the hypothesis. In the first
decades of the sixteenth century Hebrew was printed in several
Ashkenazic rabbinic typefaces which were in competition with
the already established Sephardic. As victory went to the estab­
lished face, the Ashkenazic typefaces became superfluous for
Hebrew. Accident, or outside influence, or just good logic — or a
combination of these — led to their being used for the vernacular
Yiddish. The idea caught on rapidly because those first Yiddish
printed books must have been in great demand, and they became
the model for later Yiddish printing.
The history provides the basis for the definition;
Yiddish Type
is that family of Ashkenazic rabbinic types that came
to be used for Yiddish after 1533. The Ashkenazic rabbinic
typefaces that, for a time, were used for Hebrew were the closest
relatives. And the typical characteristic letters mentioned earlier
are those of the Constance, Augsburg, and Zurich faces that came
to influence all others. By the end of the sixteenth century Prague
adopted this kind of
Yiddish Type
as did Amsterdam towards the
middle of the seventeenth century, but this is a story for the next
hundred years.
In an essay o f this kind, where so much depends on “seeing” what is
being written about, one is temped to show innumerable facsimiles.
When this paper was presented in 1979, I showed forty-one facsimiles.
In the interest o f minimizing the expenses o f facsimiles and the difficul­
ties o f getting photographs and permissions to publish from many
libraries, I have chosen a minimum number, and all from the Library o f
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute o f Religion in Cincinnati. I
believe these suffice to illustrate the points I make.
Fortunately, there are three corpora available in many libraries that
bring together photocopies or facsimiles o f Hebrew manuscripts, early
printed Hebrew books, and early printed Yiddish books, so that anyone
who wants to examine other items than those shown with this article may
do so relatively easily. They are:
Pariz un Vienna
(Verona, 1595).
29 IDC,
Yudisher Teryak
(Hanau, 1615).