8 Not Wanderers but Faithful Companions
A Brief Overview on the Hebrew Incunabula Held in Italian Libraries
The late 15th century became a time of dramatic changes in the Hebrew book-making as well. The Hebraica team of the 15cBOOKTRADE project prepared a thorough description of the extant copies of the Hebrew incunabula kept in the libraries of Europe and Israel. Notes of ownership, deeds of sale, personal remarks, institutional stamps, signatures of censors – all of them provide a rich picture of the distribution and use of Hebrew printed books throughout Europe (and also their ways from Europe to North Africa and the Middle East). Among a few hundreds of the checked volumes some were printed in Italy and remained there all the centuries since then, others were printed in Portugal and soon made their way to the Ottoman lands and from there to Yemen or Persia. Although the survey is not complete yet, since some important collections such as Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana still need to be included in the MEI database, the main results can enrich our knowledge on certain rabbis and scholars or provide interesting evidence of communal life, literacy, trade, the role of women and of the books in private possession.