Page 72 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 46

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
At th e same tim e th a t C h r is tian s w ere p u rch a s in g H eb rew
m anu sc r ip ts , mainly from p riva te Jew ish collections a n d book
dea le rs , sizeable lib ra ries w ere be ing com p iled by Jew ish b ib ­
liophiles. A b rah am Jo s e p h So lomon G raz iano o f M odena , Italy,
was fam ous fo r his h u g e collection, which p robab ly in c lud ed
several h u n d r e d MSS in ad d i t io n to th o u san d s o f p r in te d e d i ­
tions. U n fo r tu n a te ly , G raz iano ’s lib rary , like so m any o th e r J ew ­
ish libraries o f the time , was d isp e rsed a f te r his d e a th . O ve r
a h u n d r e d MSS b e a r in g G ra z iano ’s s ig n a tu re can be trac ed in
many lib raries today , b u t no single lib rary can claim G ra z ian o ’s
collection as th e fo u n d a t io n o f its ho ld ings .
C h r is tian bibliophiles a n d scho lars c o n t in u ed to amass collec­
tions o f H eb rew books in the 18th c en tu ry : 110 MSS w ere a d d e d
to the B od le ian ’s collection early in th e n in e te e n th c en tu ry from
the lib rary o f M. Canon ici. T h e H am b u rg Mun icipal L ib ra ry
came in to the possession o f a no tab le collection o f several h u n ­
d r e d H eb rew MSS a cqu ired from th e C h r is tian H eb ra is t , J.C.
Wolf, early in the 18th cen tu ry . T h e g re a te s t C h r is tian co llec to r
o f H eb rew MSS in the cen tu ry was the I ta lian O r ien ta l scho la r
an d b ib liog raph e r , G iovann i B. d e Rossi. De Rossi p u rch a s ed
H eb rew m anu sc r ip ts p r im a r ily in Italy an d ove r th e years
am assed ove r 1,400 H eb rew MSS an d th o u san d s o f p r in te d
books, which were p u rch a sed in 1816 fo r th e newly estab lished
Palatine L ib rary in Pa rm a . B u t fo r th e f irs t tim e a m a jo r Jew ish
collection rem a in ed in tac t a f te r th e d e a th o f its ow n e r a n d was,
albeit decades la te r, to f ind repo se in a g re a t lib ra ry w h e re it
was to be k ep t as a com p le te an d s ep a ra te collection. T h e r e ­
n ow n e d R abb i, ta lm u d ic s c h o la r a n d b ib l io p h i le , D av id
O p p en h e im (P rague , 1664-1736), h ad p u t to g e th e r w ha t may
have been th e la rges t lib ra ry o f H eb rew books u n d e r Jew ish
ow ne rsh ip a t its time. T h e n um b e r o f MSS in the lib ra ry ex ­
ceeded 750, most o f which were p u rch a s ed in C en tra l E u rop e .
O p p e n h e im ’s lib ra ry was f u r th e r d is tingu ish ed by th e fact th a t
it was am ong th e first to have been ca ta logued . T h r e e ca ta logues
in all were p r in te d , the ea rlies t in 1764. F u r th e rm o re , th e lib ra ry
was no t d isp e rsed a f te r th e ow n e r ’s d e a th o r sold p iecem eal;
th e h e irs r e ta in e d th e co llec tion fo r sev e ra l g e n e r a t io n s ,
unsuccessfu lly a t tem p t in g to sell it to a single p u rch a s e r . T h e
lib rary rem a in ed locked u p in chests an d u n u s ed fo r close to
JEWISH COLLECTORS