The Katz Center library is pleased to announce the acquisition in July of 2011 of a rare Passover Haggadah: Hagadah shel pesah’ im ha-pitaron be-lashon sefaradi printed in Livorno in 1837 by Jacob Tubiana.
This lavishly illustrated Seder hagadah was printed in Livorno, a port city on the western coast of Tuscany, by Jacob Tubiana in 1837. What marks this edition as special is not only its scarcity but the fact that it bears witness to the emerging position and leading role Livorno would play during the 19th and early 20th centuries as the chief supplier of Hebrew, Ladino and Judeo-Arabic printings to the Jewish communities of the Ottoman Empire. By the middle of the 19th century, Livorno had risen to become the fifth largest center of Hebrew printing in the world and one of the largest exporters of Ladino editions. While the Livornese Hebrew printers developed their own formats, they freely borrowed from earlier imprints both in terms of typography and illustrations. The Hebrew type used by Tubiana, for example, is said to have been produced in the style of “Amsterdam [Hebrew] letters,” renowned for their beauty and distinctiveness. The illustrations are reproduced from the Judeo-Spanish (Ladino) version printed in Venice 1629. Among the borrowed illustrations are the thirteen-panel stages of the Seder, the ten-panel depiction of the ten plagues, and one of Pharaoh bathing in the blood of Israelite infants to cure himself of leprosy--all originally in Venetian editions. In this way a 19th century Livornese Hebrew printer gave new life to a Sephardic printing tradition begun in 17th century Venice that had for all intents and purposes ceased to exist by the end of the 18th century.
Purchased from London rare books dealer Samuel Gedge with the generous support of Gilbert Matthews, W,'70.
Image: Seen here are panels depicting the search for and burning of hametz.