Teshuvot She'elot (Answers and Questions). [Rome: Obadiah, Manasseh and Benjamin of Rome, ca. 1469–73]
Chancery(?) 4to, printed on half-sheets (8 x 6 in.; 205 x 150mm). Types 2:115 (sq.), 1:144 (sq.). 24 lines. collation: [1–1510 1612]: (160 of) 162 leaves; lacking only the first and final blanks, quires unsigned, marginal water stains on many leaves, but a good copy with very strong paper. Nineteenth-century embossed cloth, roan spine with green and red labels, purple mottled edges, marbled endleaves, red silk marker; worn.
First edition; probably the second printed hebrew book. A collection of 420 numbered responsa, listed in a table on fols. 2r–14v, and the only such collection printed in the fifteenth century. The responsa of ibn Adret (ca. 1235–1310), a rabbi of Barcelona who had been a pupil of Nahmanides, were addressed to him from all over the Jewish world. Additional responsa by or attributed to ibn Adret continued to be gathered and printed in editions of the sixteenth through early nineteenth centuries. None of the six Hebrew books now assigned to Rome, ca. 1469–1473, give Rome as the place of printing, and only one of them names the printers (see lot 54). They were all conventionally dated ca. 1480 until Moses Marx, in an influential study in the 1950 festschrift for his brother Alexander, argued that they seemed in various ways to reflect the influence of the early Christian printing shops in Rome, particularly that of the first Rome printers, Conrad Sweynheym and Arnold Pannartz. Subsequently, A. K. Offenberg has strongly reinforced Marx's view, especially on the basis of the paper stocks used by the press, and has suggested their probable sequence (BMC XIII, xliii–xlv). Moreover, Edwin Hall has pointed out that a passage in the preface to Sweynheym and Pannartz's Latin Bible of 1471, apologizing for the lack of Hebrew characters for printing Hebrew words, seems to refer to the existence of such characters among the Jews, implying, if obscurely, that there was a Hebrew press in Rome.
BMC XIII identifies the paper size as Chancery, but the thickness of the leaves suggests that they may have been the somewhat larger Median size, and that the leaves of an uncut copy would have had considerably larger outer and lower margins than either the British Library or the Delmonico copies.
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