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Printers and Publishers of Hebrew Books

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  • Salomon Seckel Arnstein (1783 - 1859)
    From 1819 in Sulzbach printer with one of his sons (which one ?) . The printing house burned in 1822 but was rebuilt. In 1851. the last book printed was a ''Siddur Tefila'' cf: ------------...
  • David Yehiel Drucker, The "printer of Vienna" (1520 - c.1600)
    1913--1996- The Eger Family Association- pg.39 Lived in Brest-Litovsk, Poland. Also known as: David Drukker, Dovid Rappaport?, Yehiel the Madpis of Vienna
  • Aaron ben Meschullam Salman Fraenkel (c.1721 - 1795)
    Printer in Sulzbach from 1764 to 1771 ______________________ Published by Aaron 1764/1765 Sēfer ham-maggîd
  • Aaron ben Uri Lipmann Fraenkel (1645 - 1720)
    Arrived in Sulzbach in the summer of 1673: on 2 october 1673 he was given the permission to settle. Printer in Sulzbach from 1699 to 1720 Die Grabschriften des Alten Judenfriedhofes in Wien by ...
  • Seckel ben Aaron Arnstein (1751 - 1825)
    The family choose the name of ARNSTEIN ( sometime write as Arhenstein) in 1813 Printer in Sulzbach from 1796 to 1819 --------------------------------------- Published by Seckel circa 1800 Ḥ...

This project begins with early printers and publishers -- both Jewish and Christian -- of Hebraica and Jewish liturgical and theological books; it continues to the present with contemporary publishers in the Hebrew language.

It is a companion to the project "Jewish Publishers, Printers, and Book Dealers" which covers Jewish people in the book trades from all eras who worked in Hebrew and various national languages. The two projects overlap to a certain extent; this project does include Christian printers of Hebraica; the "Jewish Publishers" project does not, and the latter also includes those who published secular works in languages other than Hebrew.

A third related project is "Publishers," which is an occupational project and should include all of the people in these two projects, and many more who have no connection to Judaism or Jewish culture.


JEWISH INCUNABULA

Within forty years of the invention of printing in the mid-fifteenth century, Hebrew books were produced using this new technology. Through the second half of the fifteenth century, Hebrew printing was restricted mainly to the Italian and Iberian peninsulas, where some 180 Hebrew titles were issued.

While Hebrew printing ceased in Spain and Portugal after the expulsion of the Jews in 1492, it quickly spread to the Ottoman Empire, North Africa, and Central and Eastern Europe. By the end of the sixteenth century, Hebrew printed books were being produced throughout most of the Jewish world. "The Hebrew presses of Germany consisted of two groups: those with the Prague connection, such as Sulzbach, Wilhermsdorf, and Fuerth; and those originating with the Ashkenazi printers of Amsterdam, such as Dyhernfurth, Dessau, Halle." Source   Many of these early printers distinguished their work by using special devices or emblems which served as their individual marks. The first Hebrew book with a printer's mark dates from 1487; printers continued to use these devices or emblems as their trademarks down to the nineteenth century.

JEWISH PRINTERS OF HEBREW BOOKS

The Soncino Family of Italy (1484 - c. 1557)

The Soncinos, named for a town in Italy in which they were active, founded one of the most dynamic printing houses of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, establishing presses from Italy to Egypt and Turkey.

In Italy in 1484, Joshua Solomon Soncino (d.1493) issued the first work from the press, Tractate Berakhot of the Babylonian Talmud. Soncino placed commentaries on the page alongside the text of the Talmud, creating what would become the standard format for all Talmud editions. Joshua Solomon's nephew, Gershom ben Moses (d.1534), emerged as one of the most skillful and prolific printers of his period.

Between 1489 and 1534, Gershom Soncino printed over one hundred volumes which appeared not only in Hebrew, but also in Greek, Latin, and Italian. As a result of the constantly-shifting political situation, Soncino and his press wandered throughout Italy and eventually left for the Ottoman Empire, where he established a printing press in Salonika in 1527 and another in Istanbul in 1530. After his death, his son continued his printing endeavors in Turkey, and his grandson, Gershom (d.1562), established the last Soncino press in Egypt in 1557.

Gershom ben Solomon Kohen of Prague (1514 - 1544)

  In 1514, Gershom ben Solomon Kohen joined a consortium of four craftsmen and two backers in Prague to form the first Hebrew printing press in Eastern or Central Europe. Kohen appears to have played a particularly important role in this group: on the cover page of the Prague printing of the Pentateuch there was an ornamental representation of hands held in the position for the priestly blessing, a symbol of membership in the priestly class (of which Kohen was a member).

After this consortium split up in 1522, Kohen and his brother established their own press, at which they produced the earliest printed Haggadah with illustrations in 1526. That same year, Kohen secured monopoly rights for Hebrew printing in Bohemia. Producing more prayer books, Talmudic works and Pentateuchs than the Prague community could absorb, the Kohen family distributed their publications throughout Eastern Europe. Gershom ben Solomon Kohen of Prague died in 1544.  

The Parenzo Family of Venice (c, 1520 - 1629)

Parenzo was the surname of a 16th–17th-century family of Hebrew printers in Venice. Jacob (d. 1546) had come to Venice from Parenzo, on the Dalmatian coast of Italy, whence the family name, but he was probably of German origin. His son Meir (d. 1575) probably learned the printing trade at the Bomberg press, where he worked together with Cornelio Adelkind in 1545, and his own productions compare favorably in beauty and elegance with those of his masters.

The Parenzos used various printer's marks: Meir, a seven-branch menorah, and a rather daring design with Venus directing arrows at a seven-headed dragon; and his brother, Asher, a mountain rising from the sea, with a laurel wreath above and a flying eagle at the left. Meir's colophons abound in editions prepared by him. In 1547 the great French engraver and typecutter Guillaume Le Bé, and later Jacob of Mantua, produced Hebrew type for him.

At Meir's death in 1575, his brother Asher took over working for the Venetian printer Giovanni di Gara, as well as for Bragadini, until 1596. Gershon ben Moses, probably a nephew of Meir and Asher, descendants of Jacob Parenzo, worked for the Venetian printer Giovanni di Gara during 1599–1609 as did his son Moses in 1629. Source  

David Yehiel Drucker (Luria), "The Printer of Vienna" (1520 - c. 1600)

Not much is known about David Yehiel Drucker (Luria), "The Printer of Vienna." He was born in 1520 in Brest, Brest Province, Belarus and died circa 1600 at Brisk, Brest Province, Belarus. The surname Drucker simply means "Printer" in German; he was also called Yehiel the Madpis of Vienna (Madpis is Hebrew for "Printer").

He is thought to have been the son of Rabbi Shlomo Ashkenazi Luria and Dina Klauber Luria. His siblings were Shlomo HaRofe Luria; Yitzhak Luria; Zev Benjamin Wolf Luria of Lublin, and Miriam Olga Luria Isserles.

He was married to Kendel Isserles Drucker, and their children were Devorah Rivkah Luria Drucker Wahl-Katzenellenbogen and Aminadav Luria.

Isaac Aaronowich, Joshua Bar Israel, and Bar Abraham Kalonymus of Poland (1603 - 1683)

In "The British and Foreign Review: Or, European Quarterly Journal" (J. Ridgeway and sons, 1837), an article titled "State of the Jews of Poland" runs from pages 402 - 443; the following is on page 410, quoted verbatim:

"Isaac Aaronowich (son of Aaron), a learned printer at Cracow, published from his own press the Babylonian Talmud in thirteen volumes, 1603 - 1617. There were four Jewish presses at Cracow; that of Isaac Aaronowich continued eighty years. The town of Lublin was also renowned for its Hebrew presses; and a learned Jew, Joshua Bar Israel, published there the Talmud of Jerusalem, and Bar Abraham Kalonymus reprinted in the same town, 1617 - 27, the Babylonian Talmud, after the edition published by Justiniani at Venice. There were besides Jewish printing-offices at Posen, Zolkiew, and Wilna."  

The Bloch-Fraenkel-Arnstein Family of Sulzbach (c. 1667 - 1851)

  In 1667, Abraham Lichtenthaler, a Lutheran, set up a Hebrew press, with the help of Isaac ben Judah Loeb Yuedels (also known as Isak ben Yehuda Leib Kohn), a Prague-born and trained printer, who had a license but no capital, The venture failed and Jeudels-Kohn, with his daughter Rachel, moved to Wilhermsdorf and began printing there (see below).

After this, the intermarried Bloch and Fraenkel- Arnstein families dominated printing in Sulzbach from the late seventeenth century to the middle of the nineteenth century.

In 1682, Moses ben Uri Shraga Bloch / Moses Phoebus Bloch (c. 1625 - 1693), the son of the Iranian Rabbi Or (Uri) Shraga Phoebus, was the second person to establish a Hebrew press in Sulzbach. His two brothers remained in Iran and both became rabbis. Moses Bloch's first finished book was the Zohar, which was released in 1684. He went on to publish many Hebrew liturgical texts, but also continued to print Kabbalistic writings, including the works of Solomon Luria, Jacob Koppel Zaslawer, and Eliezer Sofer Loeb Rofe of Prague.

Moses Bloch was married to a wife whose name is not recorded. They had two sons, Samuel Bloch (c. 1640 - ?) and Feistal (Feustal) Bloch (c. 1640 - 1668), as well as a daughter, Bula Bloch (c. 1850 - 1729).

Moses was joined in the business by Aron ben Uri Lipmann Fraenkel (1645 - 1720), also known as Aaron Frankl, the son of "HaGaon HaGadol" Rabbi Uri Lipmann Fraenkel and Kela Auerbach Fraenkel of Vienna. Aron had come from Vienna to Sulzbach in 1673 with his wife, the Vienna-born Guetel (Gitel) Fraenkel (1648 - 1689), who was the daughter of Jacob Koppel HaLevi Fränkel and Zortel Karo Fraenkel. Aron and Gutel had six children: Nechama Fraenkel, Meshullam Salman ben Aaron Fraenkel, Zarde Fraenkel, Isai Fraenkel, Menachem Fraenkel, and Lipman Fraenkel. When Gutel died, Aron married Moses Bloch's daughter Bula Bloch, and they had two children: Joachim ben Aaron Fraenkel and Simon ben Aaron Fraenkel.

Moses Bloch died in 1693, and his widow continued to keep the press running from 1694 to 1699 with the help of her son Samuel, her son-in law Aron Fraenkel, and Aron's children by Gitel Fraenkel and Bula Bloch.

By 1699, Aron ben Uri Lipmann Fraenkel was the sole proprietor of the press. He died in 1720 and his son Meshullam Salman Frankl (also spelled Meshulam Zalman ben Aharon Fraenkel), known as Salman (1695-1781), assumed operations. Salman was active from 1721 to 1764, specializing in relatively inexpensive popular works, especially liturgy. Source He published 167 editions of Jewish religious literature, as well as the famous annual Calendar of Sulzbach, a yearly almanac which was popular with Jewish merchants.

Salman and his wife, whose birth-surname was Hirsch and whose given name is not recorded, had eight children. In 1764, two of their sons, Aaron ben Meshullam Salman Fraenkel (c. 1721-1795) and Naftali ben Meshullam Salman Fraenkel (c. 1725 - ?) took over the company, and ran it until 1795.

During the eighteenth century, the Bloch-Frankl family engaged in a bitter competition with the Proops family which culminated in an unsuccessful legal attempt by the Proops to shut down the Sulzbach press. This was one of the earliest international copyright disputes ever documented. Source

Aaron and Naftali were followed by Aaron's son, Seckel ben Aron Fraenkel Arnstein (1751 - 1825), who ran the press from 1795 to 1819. Seckel was married three times -- to Schönchen Brüll (Bruell), Edel Hendle Wertheimer, and Bilga Unknown -- and he fathered 13 children. He chose the new surname Arnstein for his family in 1813 and he retired in 1819. His sons Elias Ellahu Seckel Arnstein (1780-1866) and Salomon Seckel Arnstein (1783 - 1859) carried the work on. The printing house burned in 1822 (at the same time that the town's synagogue burned) but was rebuilt by 1824 (as was the synagogue). In 1851, the last book printed by the family was a Siddur Tefila.

Sulzbach was also notable for the fact that its presses employed female typesetters. For example, Rachel Kohen Juedels, the daughter of the printer Isak Kohen Juedels from Prague (see above), set type for Moses Bloch in 1691, according to the colophon of his edition of Hovot Ha-Levavot (Duties of the Heart). Source

A total of about 700 Hebrew titles were printed in Sulzbach. Source

Isak Kohen Juedels and Israel ben Meir of Wilhermsdorf (1669 - c. 1720)

In 1667 the printer Isak Kohen Juedels, also known as Isaac ben Jehuda Löb Kohn, Isaac ben Judah Loeb Yuedels, and Isaac Bar Judah Yudah Katz, came to Germany from Prague, Bohemia (now the Czech Republic). He may have been a member of the Kohen family of printers there. That year he partnered with Abraham Lichtenthaler, a Lutheran, to establish a Hebrew press in Sulzbach. Source This venture soon failed, but in 1669 Duke Christian August (1632 -1708) gave Kohn / Juedels / Katz permission to establish a Hebrew printing press in the Upper Palatine. Source

Between 1669 and 1690, Kohn / Juedels / Katz ran a Jewish printing house in Wilhermsdorf, which specialized in the production of Hebrew and Yiddish texts. His daughter, Rachel Juedels, was a typesetter.

Benjamin Wolf Kohn (c.1600-15 - 1684-85) was expelled from Hünfeld in Hesse, Germany in 1671 and lived in Langenden (Langenzenn, Fürth), Franconia, as a cantor and corrector (editor / proofreader) of the printing house in Wilhermsdorf. It is not known how or if he was related to the printer Isaac Kohn / Juedels / Katz. Source

In 1691, Isaac Kohn / Juedels / Katz relocated back to Sulzbach with his daughter Rachel Juedels, where they worked for the Bloch-Frankl-Arnstein family of printers.

In 1712, Israel ben Meir from Prague set up a new printing plant in Wilhermsdorf with the permission of Count Philipp Ernst von Hohenlohe. This press was eventually sold to Rabbi Zwi Hirsch ben Chaim (Hayyim), who had come to Wilhermsdorf from Fürth.

Hirsch ben Chaim carried on until 1739, when the Wilhermsdorf printing house ceased operation. Wibel writes about this: “Anno 1739, the present Jewish printing-shop ceased completely, because the book printer Hirsch and his son who lived here since 1712 moved to Fürth.” Source

At least 170 works were printed in Wilhermsdorf.

The Proops Family of Amsterdam (1704 - 1849)

  Solomon Proops (active 1704-1734) and his sons Joseph, Jacob, and Abraham were the most important Ashkenazi printers in Amsterdam in the eighteenth century, and their family business survived until 1849, specializing in liturgical works. Under Solomon Proops in 1730, the press issued the first sales catalog of a Hebrew publisher. Their printer's mark also indicates priestly origin.

CHRISTIAN PRINTERS OF HEBREW BOOKS

Daniel Bomberg of Antwerp (prior to c.1550)

  Daniel Bomberg (d. 1549 or 1553) was one of the first Christian printers of Hebrew books and one of the most influential of all Hebrew printers. Born and raised in Antwerp, Bomberg settled in Venice where he established his printing press.

Bomberg was the first to publish Mikraot Gedolot, the Bible with the rabbinic commentaries that served as a model for many future editions. As a result of the success of this publication, he printed two complete editions of the Talmud. Bomberg's pagination of the Talmud has become standard. His placement of commentaries surrounding the text, following the work of Joshua Solomon Soncino, has also become canonical. This format has influenced the appearance of many other types of Jewish literature as well. Although Bomberg's fortunes appear to have declined as a result of competition, his successors, nevertheless, lauded him for his distinctive style.   

Paulus Fagius (1504-1549)

 Fagius is one of the prime examples of the important role played by Christians interested in Hebrew and Judaica for the spread of Hebrew printing. Born in the Palatinate, Fagius was a professor of Hebrew at Strasbourg and later at Cambridge. More importantly, he established a Hebrew press in Isny, Bavaria, where he appointed his former Hebrew teacher, Elijah Levita, as supervisor.

The inscription on Fagius's printer's mark declares, "Every good tree gives forth good fruit."

The Fagius printing press spread Hebrew books throughout the Rhineland. In addition to the publication of various Hebrew books, the major contribution of Fagius's press was the publication of numerous Hebrew texts with a Latin translation and commentary. Fagius began the republication of Me'ir Nativ, a Biblical concordance, which was completed after his departure for England by the well-known Christian Hebraist, Johannes Reuchlin (1455-1522).

This project is ongoing. Please feel free to join and help add information, profiles and sources.

RESOURCES: JEWISH PRINTERS AND PUBLISHERS

RESOURCES: JEWISH BOOK DEALERS

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

  • Steinschneider, Cat Bod, 2842 (7818); 2984 (8761);
  • Ḥ.D. Friedberg, Toledot ha-Defus ha-Ivri be-Italyah (19562), 69ff.;
  • A.M. Habermann, in: Aresheth, 1 (1959), 61–90;
  • A. Yaari, Diglei ha-Madpisim ha-Ivriyyim (1944), nos. 14, 35, 36;
  • Posner, Raphael and Israel Ta-Shema, eds. The Hebrew Book: An Historical Survey. Jerusalem: Keter, 1975.
  • Yaari, Abraham. Hebrew Printers' Marks: From the Beginnings of Hebrew University Press Association, 1943.
  • idem, in: KS, 30 (1955), 113–7; D.W. Amram, Makers of Hebrew Books in Italy (1909), index.