Page 206 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 51

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
obtained the hoped-for permission to conduct a press (Joseph
II had died and the throne was now occupied by Francis I).
From this time on his books bore his own imprint and printer’s
mark comprising the following (see Figure 1): the monogram
AS inside an oval frame on a monument-like structure on top
of which is perched an eagle. It is bordered by a German in­
scription in Hebrew letters which reads — “Anton Schmid K’
K’ [Kaiserlich-Koniglichen] P r iv ileg ierten H eb ra ischen
Buchdrucker” (Anton Schmid Royally Licensed Printer of He­
brew Books).
Schmid printed many religious works for which there was
great demand and a ready market: Passover haggadot, the Pen­
tateuch with the translation of Onkelos, and hoshanot. How­
ever, there also came from his press an edition of the letters
of Mendelssohn, as well as the early Hebrew plays
Gemul A talyah
by David Franco-Mendes, which was based on dramas by Racine
and Metastasio, and
Melukhat Shau l
by Joseph Haefrati, which
some consider to be the first Hebrew drama. In addition,
Schmid also issued textbooks for the study of geography and
penmanship.
E XPAND ED H O R IZON S
Schmid enjoyed a number of years of financial success during
which he was able to find new markets for his books in Poland
and Russia and even beyond in the Balkans and Turkey. He
printed a full edition of the Talmud (he was to issue three more
such editions), as well as the
Shulhan Arukh,
Maimonides’
E igh t
Chapters
and a number of popular scientific books. His success
was further assured when in 1880 the government issued an
order that booksellers were no longer permitted to import books
from outside Austria. Letteris tells us that this rule was to remain
in effect for some fifty years. He writes: “Needless to say, this
royal decree served to enrich Schmid who was practically the
only one who was engaged in Hebrew printing on a large scale.
The few printers in Galicia were as naught compared to him,
for their activity was severely limited and the technical quality
of their books was poor. They barely made ends meet and were
unable to publish substantial works. . . ”4 Schmid therefore
4. See Letteris, op. cit., pp. 25-26.