Babylonian Talmud, Amsterdam 1644-48 (50713)

תלמוד בבלי, אמשטרדם

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Listing Details

Lot Number: 50713
Title (English): Babylonian Talmud
Title (Hebrew): תלמוד בבלי, אמשטרדם
City: Amsterdam
Publisher: Immanuel (Emanuel de) Benveniste
Publication Date: 1644-48
Estimated Price: $10,000.00 USD - $20,000.00 USD
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Physical Description

17 volumes, small folio, set of Babylonian Talmud lacking only Tractate Beitza, title ff of Eruvin and Sanhedrin, and 3 ff of Zevahim which are provided in a beautiful old  ms on matching paper. Old hands on many ff. Most of the tractate are of the original size as published by Benveniste 280:200 mm., and bound in contemporary leather over wood boards, all spined are taped, various other older bindings.

Berakhot 92 ff.; Seder Zeraim 86 ff.; Shabbat 196 ff.;  Eruvin 2-135 ff.; 255:185 mm., Eruvin lacks title, trimmed margins, use, age and damp staining, bound in later boards, rubbed and taped.

Pesachim 139 ff.;  265:183 mm., use, age and damp staining, bound in later vellum over boards rubbed.

Rosh Hashanah 42 ff.;  Yuma 96 ff.; Sukkah 70ff.; Ta’anit 40 ff.; Shekalim 11 ff.; Megillah 40 ff.; 270:185 mm., initial 4 from smaller copy, corners rounded, wide margins, age and damp staining, bound in leather over wood boards, rubbed and spine taped.

Chagiga 27, [1 blank], [1 marked 29], [1] ff.; Moed Katan 48 ff.; 248:187 mm., age and damp staining, bound in later marbled paper over boards, rubbed, spine taped.

Yevamot 148 ff.275:205 mm., initial 4 from smaller copy; wide margins, light age and damp staining, bound in leather over wood boards, rubbed and spine taped.

Kidushin 98 ff.; Sotah 52 ff.;  Gittin 118 ff.;  265:200 mm., Kidushin final with loss of several lines; nice margins, age and damp staining, bound in later leather over boards, rubbed, spine partially taped.

Nazir 72 ff.; Nedarim 119 ff.; 265:191 mm., wide margins, light age and damp staining, bound in speckled leather over boards.

Ketubot 156 ff. heavy 260:184 mm., use, age and damp staining, loose in leather over wood boards, rubbed.

Bava Kamma 5-148 ff. 266:194 mm., lacks initial 4 ff,  145-148 from smaller copy; use, age and damp staining, not bound.

Bava Metzia 164 ff. 245:188 mm., use, age and damp staining, ff161-164 from a larger copy, old boards rubbed.

Bava Batra 222 ff.; 265:197 mm., wide margins, age and damp staining, bound in leather over wood boards, rubbed and spine taped.

Sanhedrin 2-131 ff., 260:195 mm. lacks title; nice margins, age and damp staining, bound in later half leather and marbled paper over boards, rubbed.

Makkot 26 ff.; Shevu’ot 62 ff.; Horayot; Eduyot 32 ff; 31 ff. Avot and small tractates; Avodah Zarah 96 ff.; 274:205 mm., wide margins, age and damp staining, bound in leather over wood boards, rubbed.

Zevahim 152 ff. ff 77-79 in fine old ms.; Chullin 180 ff.; 272:202 mm., wide margins, age and damp staining, bound in leather over wood boards, rubbed.

Menachot 112 ff.;  260:200 mm., nice margins, age and damp staining, loose in leather over wood boards, back panel only.

Bekhorot 68 ff.; Erchin 34 ff.;  Meilah; Tamid; Kinnim; Middot 72 ff.; Temurah 134 ff.; Keritot 100 ff.; 278:200 mm., wide margins, age and damp staining, loose  in leather over wood boards, rubbed and split.

Niddah 88 ff.; Tohorot 163 ff. 280:205 mm., wide margins, age and damp staining, bound in leather over wood boards, rubbed and spine taped.


Detail Description

Small folio edition of the Talmud, most notable for the restoration of some material expurgated from the Basle Talmud. The printer, Immanuel (Emanuel de) Benveniste, was the scion of a distinguished Sephardic family that was among the Jewish refugees from the Iberian Peninsula. Benveniste mastered the printer's craft in his birthplace, Venice, and later settled in Amsterdam.

Despite the assertion on the title page that this edition follows the Giustiniani printing, Rabbinovicz contends that it was in fact based on the Lublin edition, which, in turn, was based on the heavily censored Basle edition. He bases this on the appearance in this edition of numerous alterations made to the Basle and, subsequently, Lublin editions. However, Rabbinovicz does cite instances where Benveniste made use of other editions. For example, Bava Batra is printed with Hikor Dinnim and Avodah Zarah includes Kitzur Piskei ha-Rosh, both from the Giustiniani edition of the Talmud. Also, Maimonides' Mishnah commentary is, with the exception of Berakhot, printed after each tract ate in the same manner as in the Bomberg editions, that is, only with the first lines of the Mishnah.

Avraham Habermann writes that Benveniste was a distinguished printer, and that "the crowning glory of his work was his Talmud edition, printed in 1644-1648, which had many supplements not in previous editions." The Benveniste edition of the Talmud has been praised for restoring expurgated material. Indeed, when the Frankfurt-am-Oder Talmud (1697-1699) was printed, that Talmud's deficiencies were corrected based on this edition.

The title pages of tractates have the Benveniste printer's mark, an upright lion facing inward towards a tower; a star is above the lion and the tower. The lion is on the viewer's right, the tower on the left. This device appears within an ornamental shield with a helmet at the crest. In Benveniste's other books it appears at the apex of an architectural frame about the text of the title page. This device was sufficiently popular that printers often reused it in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, in such diverse locations as Amsterdam, Hamburg, Dessau, Halle, Kothen, Jessnitz, and Zolkiew. It was also used as the insignia of the Horev press in the twentieth century. In 1714, two rival editions of the Talmud were begun in Amsterdam, both with the Benveniste device on their title pages.

We are unusually well informed about the activities of the Benveniste press. Unlike earlier Talmud editions, where the press run can only be estimated, we know that Benveniste printed 3,000 copies, a single complete Talmud consisting of 5,940 folios. This is a significantly larger number of copies than were printed in the incunabula editions, at approximately 300 copies for a press run, and the early sixteenth century editions, estimated at 1,000-1,500 copies. At this time, editions of Hebrew titles varied from a low of 475 to a high of 10,000, with 3,000 copies being the average. Benveniste was also capable of much larger press runs. In 1643 he arranged with the Christian binders Magnus and Spanceerder to deliver within six weeks 8,000 bound prayerbooks that he had printed.


Hebrew Description


M. Heller, Printing the Talmud, YU Museum, p. 250 L. Fuks and R. G. Fuks-Mansfeld, Hebrew Typography in the Northern Netherlands 1585-1815, v. I (Leiden, 1984-1987), pp. 151, 160-169; A. M. Habermann, The History of the Hebrew Book. From Marks to Letters; From Scroll to Book (Jerusalem, 1968), p. 155; Raphael Nathan Nata Rabbinovicz, Maamar al Hadpasat ha- Talmud with Additions, ed. A. M. Habermann (Jerusalem, 1952), pp. 93-95. Marvin Heller, "The Printer's Mark of Immanuel Benveniste and the Printing Houses that made use of it: A Study in the Varied Usage of a Printer's Insignia," Studies in Bibliography and Booklore XIX (Cincinnati, 1994), pp. 3-20; Avraham Yaari, Hebrew Printers' Marks (Jerusalem, 1943), pp. 38, 145-146 nos. 60-61 [Hebrew]