Wednesday, June 1, 2011

New book: Treasures of the Valmadonna Trust Library

Flyer received via e-mail:



Treasures of the Valmadonna Trust Library provides a complete checklist of the Trust’s nearly 250 incunables and deluxe Hebrew books printed on vellum and coloured paper, the first published record of Valmadonna holdings in these most prized areas of Hebrew printing. The volume also includes original bibliographic studies by Isaac Yudlov of the National Library of Israel, Jerusalem, Dr A. K. Offenberg of the Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana, Amsterdam, and Brad Sabin Hill of the I. Edward Kiev Judaica Collection at George Washington University, Washington, DC.

The catalogue and studies are accompanied by over 60 colour plates, detailed indexes, and a bibliography of specialist literature on early and deluxe Hebrew books.

Treasures of the Valmadonna Trust Library: A Catalogue of 15th-Century Books and Five Centuries of
Deluxe Hebrew Printing.
Edited by David Sclar.
Hardcover, 168 p., illustrated.
$ 60.00 (US)

For information, write to the Librarian at
Valmadonna Trust Library
Fairport, 7 Turner Drive
London NW 11 (U.K)


Two Prague Haggadahs. Facsimile of the 1556 edition on vellum and the 1590-1606 [?] edition on paper. Introduction by C. Abramsky. 1978.

Grace After Meals (Birhat Ha’Mazon). Facsimile of the 1514 Prague edition. Introductions by C. Abramsky and B. Nosek. 1984
The Pesahim Codex (Babylonian Talmud). Facsimile of the Provence c.1447 manuscript. Palaeographic description by M. Beit-Arié; introduction by E. S. Rosenthal. 1984.

The only dated medieval Hebrew manuscript written in England (1189 CE) and the problem of pre-expulsion Anglo-Hebrew manuscripts. By M. Beit-Arié; appendices by M. Banitt and Z. Entin Rokéah. 1985.

Seder keriat shema al hamitah: Matteo Zanetti and Comino Presigno, Venice 1593. 1986.

Hebraica (saec. X ad saec. XVI): Manuscripts and early printed books from the Library of the Valmadonna Trust. An Exhibition at the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York. By B. S. Hill. 1989.

The Alphabet of Ben Sira. Facsimile of the Constantinople 1519 edition. Intros by J. Hacker and A. M. Haberman; foreword by J. Dan. 1997

The Hebrew Manuscripts in the Valmadonna Trust Library. Edited by B. Richler. 1998.

Birkat Ha-Mazon (Grace After Meals). Facsimile of the N. Italy, ca. 1476 edition. 2004.

THE VALMADONNA TRUST LIBRARY, based in London, is the most valuable private collection of early, rare and deluxe Hebrew printing in the world.

Among the greatest treasures of the Library are the incunables, books produced in the 15th century, just after Gutenberg’s invention of movable type. The Trust holds over 70 volumes - or excessively rare fragments - printed in Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ottoman Turkey before 1500. Among these are some of the very first Hebrew books; books printed by the fabled Soncino family in their native town; and leaves of the Arba‘ah Turim printed by Iberian refugees at Istanbul in 1493, the first book in any language printed in the Islamic world.

The earliest printers issued special copies of their books on vellum (parchment), a convention of fine printing maintained by their successors over the centuries. The Trust holds some 27 Hebrew books printed on vellum from the 15th and 16th centuries, the oldest from before the expulsions of Spanish and Portuguese Jewry, more than 20 volumes from Italy, and others from Ottoman Greece and Turkey, Bohemia, the German lands and Holland. Some of them are the only deluxe copy of the book in existence.

Following the lead of Renaissance master-printer Aldus, the Christian publisher Bomberg produced deluxe Hebrew books on blue paper early in the 16th century. From Venice the elegant vogue spread to other presses in northern Italy. The Trust holds the world’s largest collection of deluxe Hebrew printing on coloured papers, especially of the 16th century, including the first edition of the Zohar on blue (Mantua, 1558).

The collection holds books on coloured paper, or in red ink, from the bibliophilic revival in Amsterdam and Central Europe in the late 17th and 18th centuries, as well as fine exempla of books on blue or ‘bluish’ paper from Eastern Europe in the early 19th century, and books and serials on coloured paper issued later in India and Baghdad.

In the annals of Hebrew booklore only one other collector - Rabbi David Oppenheim of Prague (1664-1736), whose library is preserved at Oxford - was known to cultivate this specialty of deluxe Hebrew printing. Among the Valmadonna copies on vellum and coloured paper are rare and unique liturgies of diverse European and oriental rites, editions of the Passover Haggadah, and ‘occasional poetry’ for weddings and in honour of royalty.

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