Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

History of the Early Printed Hebrew Book

Production and Circulation of the Hebrew Book

The following is a highly condensed summary of Terry Belanger’s “Descriptive Bibliography,” pp. 97-101 in, Book Collecting: A Modern Guide (New York and London: R. R. Bowker, 1977) Jean Peters, ed.
Van Pelt Library. Z987 .B68

This section of the research guide is concerned primarily with descriptive bibliography, especially with the terms one must master before he or she can use descriptive bibliographies intelligently. For this purpose, we need to sharpen the definition of such a common word as edition that has a precise bibliographical meaning. An edition of a book is all copies printed at one or later times from the same setting of type.  Within an edition, all copies printed at any one time are called an impression.  A number of impressions from the same setting of type may be produced over a period of many years, but they are all part of the same edition, because the type itself is identical in each of these impressions.  An issue is that part of an edition offered for sale at one time, or as a consciously planned unit, and an edition is occasionally sold by means of several different issues. Different issues within an edition will be largely the same, but they might, for example, have different title pages.  State refers to the minor differences in the printed text between one copy and another of the same book.  When an error in the text is discovered during the printing of the pages, for example, the press is stopped long enough to make the correction.  Sheets printed before the error was noticed constitute the uncorrected state; sheets printed after it was caught constitute the corrected state.
The word bibliography properly means the study of books.  Analytical bibliography is the study of books as physical objects; the details of their production, the effects of the method of manufacture on the text.  Descriptive bibliography is the close physical description of books. How is the book put together? What sort of type is used and what kind of paper? How are the illustrations incorporated into the book? How is it bound? The descriptive bibliographer must have a good working knowledge of the state of the technology of the period in order to describe a book’s physical appearance both accurately and economically.

Gradenwitz, Joseph
“The Early Hebrew Book,” pp. 165-184 in,  ברכתא דאליהו   The Blessing of Eliyahu.  A volume dedicated to the memory of Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu Munk (London : Golders Green Beth Hamedrash Congregation, 1982)
Van Pelt Library. BM42 .B57 1982

Heller, Marvin J.
“Observations on the Worker to Book Production Ratio in an Eighteenth Century Hebrew Printing House,” pp. 257-65 in, Studies in the Making of the Early Hebrew Book (Leiden, Boston:  Brill, 2008)
Katz Center - Stacks. Z228.H4 H46 2008
Van Pelt Library. Z228.H4 H46 2008

Heller, Marvin J.
“And the work, the work of heaven, was performed on Shabbat,” 266-77 in, Studies in the making of the early Hebrew Book (Leiden; Boston:  Brill, 2008)
Katz Center - Stacks. Z228.H4 H46 2008
Van Pelt Library. Z228.H4 H46 2008

Hill, Brad Sabin
Catalogue of Hebrew printers (ca. 1500-ca. 1900) : as represented in the holdings of the British Museum (now British Library) : reproduced from the unpublished manuscript held in the Hebrew Section, Oriental and India Office Collections, three volumes
London : British Library, 1995
Katz Center - Reference Folio. Z231 .B75 1995a

Hill, Brad Sabin
“A ‘Catalogue of Hebrew Printers’,” British Library Journal 21 (1995) 34-65
Van Pelt Library. Z921.B854 B73

Hurwitz, Phinehas Elijah
“Instructions to the printers,” [Hebrew] second introduction pp. 21-23 in, ספר הברית השלם  = The complete book of the covenant (Jerusalem:  S. Kroyz, 1989 or 1990)
Katz Center - Stacks. Q157 .H79 1989

Ruderman, David B.
A full translation of the preceding, “Appendix 2. Hurwitz’s Instructions on Printing His Book, from His Second Introduction,” pp. 130-134 in, A Best-Selling Hebrew Book of the Modern Era:  The Book of the Covenant of Pinhas Hurwitz and Its Remarkable Legacy (Seattle ; London : University of Washington Press, 2015)
Van Pelt Library. Q157.H79 R833 2014

Yaari, Abraham
“Copyeditors’ Complaints about Printing on the Sabbath by Gentiles,” [Hebrew] pp. 170-78 in,מחקרי ספר ; פרקים בתולדות הספר העברי = Studies in Hebrew booklore (Jerusalem: Mosad ha-Rav K?uk?, 1958)
Katz Center - Reference Room. Z228.H4 Y12 1958