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Lot 121: Large Collection of Books and Baghdad Printings - 19th and 20th Centuries - R. David Sassoon Collection

Auction 53 - Rare and Important Items

by Kedem Public Auction House Ltd

November 15, 2016

Jerusalem, Israel

Live Auction
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Description: Large diverse collection of books, booklets and various printed matter printed in Baghdad during 1866-1937. This unusually large collection contains more than 100 items: books, booklets, single leaves and calendars. The collection represents the history of the Baghdad Hebrew printing press, from its beginning in the first half of the 19th century until the 1930s. The collection originated in the library of the renowned R. David Sassoon and is one of the key sources for the bibliographic records of Baghdad printings listed by the researcher and bibliographer Avraham Ya'ari in his book Hebrew Printing in the East (Part 2, Jerusalem 1940, Baghdad). The collection contains many items which do not appear in the Ya'ari list. This collection is composed of 115 books and booklets and 36 printed calendars. 77 of the items are listed in the Ya'ari records and 19 books from this collection do not appear in the Ya'ari listing. The collection also contains 14 Baghdad books which were printed in Livorno, some with fake title pages (with Baghdad inscribed on them). A detailed list is available upon request. Although Baghdad was one of the most important ancient Jewish communities in the East, it did not have its own printing press until the mid-19th century. In the 18th century, Baghdad residents would send their books to Constantinople or to Livorno for printing. The first Hebrew printing press was established in 1866 by Rachamim ben Reuven ben Mordechai and the first book printed in letterpress printing was Shivchei Rabbi Chaim Vital (only a few lithographs were printed prior to that). After a respite of several years, Hebrew printing was reintroduced by R. Shlomo Bechor Chutzin, a Baghdad rabbi, Torah scholar and leader who later passed on the press to his son R. Yehoshua Bechor Chutzin. In 1904, a new printing press was established in Baghdad by R. Ezra Reuven Dangur who was rabbi and posek in Yangon (Rangoon) Burma and in 1923, he was appointed Chacham Bashi of Baghdad. During the British mandate, two more Hebrew printing presses were founded: the "al Wataniya Yisraeliya" and the printing press of Elisha Shochet. This collection aptly represents all the printing presses, from the first books printed in Baghdad including the very first book, Shivchei Rabbi Chaim Vital, until the printings during the British mandate. The collection also contains many calendars of various publishers. Some books have dedications or ownership inscriptions (most related to the Sassoon family) and some have title pages printed in gold ink or printed dedication leaves. 115 books and booklets, 36 calendars. Size and condition vary. Provenance: Sassoon family collection.

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