Page 197 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 50

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KARP / T H E KARP CO LLEC T ION OF AMERICAN JUDA ICA
189
Of the second work, the first Hebrew Bible printed in Amer­
ica, there are two two-volume sets. The first is a pristine uncut
copy, apparently bound before the boards were readied. The
second contains the very rare transfer of copyright page, which
states:
In the year 1812, Mr. Horwitz proposed the publication o f
an edition o f the Hebrew Bible, being the first proposal o f the
kind ever offered in the United States . . . and a considerable
number o f subscriptions for the work were obtained by him.
Early in 1813, Mr. Horwitz transferred his rights to the edition
. . . to Thomas Dobson the present publisher. The first volume
is now published.
Of the Noah volume, bearing his portrait, describing his ex­
periences as “Consul of the United States for the City and King­
dom of Tunis,” the collection has three copies: one in the orig­
inal boards, with a hand-lettered label on the spine; one in a
contemporary half-leather binding; and one, a presentation
copy to a New York minister “with the compliments of the au­
thor.” There are some one hundred Mordecai M. Noah items,
printed and in manuscript, in the collection.
Isaac Leeser’s first work, a textbook for religious instruction,
was published only a year after his arrival in Philadelphia to
assume the post of hazzan-minister of that city’s Mikveh Israel
congregation, or as he described himself on the title page,
“Reader of the Portuguese Jewish Congregation.” Of four cop­
ies of this work in the collection, three are in the original board
bindings with labels attached. Of these, one had belonged to
the Rev. Jacques J. Lyons, hazzan-minister of New York’s
Shearith Israel congregation. The fourth, recently acquired, is
in a contemporary half-leather binding, and contains at its end
a subscription list, hitherto unrecorded. It is interesting to note
that the number of subscribers in Kingston, Jamaica (50) ex­
ceeded those of New York (43) and Philadelphia (38), pointing
to both the close relationship in the early 19th century between
the Jewish communities of the United States and the West In­
dies, and the entrepreneurial enterprise of Leeser (or his agent),
who was not only the translator-editor, but also the publisher.
Almost all of Leeser’s published works are represented in the
collection, as well as the one hundred or so manuscript items
mentioned by Dr. Schmelzer.