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Estellina’s progeny and the development of Jewish printing

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Rare Book Workshop: Wives, Widows, Typefaces, and Tiny Hands: Estellina’s progeny and the development of Jewish printing

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Rare Book Workshops: Themes and Variations in Jewish Printing and Book History.

The Jewish Public Library’s rare book workshop facilitators will share the research and stories that will telescope 500 years of Jewish books into 3-one hour sessions.

Presented by: Nicole Beaudry, Eddie Stone, and Eddie Paul

The Dr. Michael D. Paul Rare Books Initiative presents

Wives, Widows, Typefaces, and Tiny Hands: Estellina’s progeny and the development of Jewish printing

In 1477, the colophon of a Hebrew book Behinat Olam printed in Mantua declared, “I, Estellina, the wife of my worthy husband Abraham Conat, wrote this book Behinat Olam with the aid of Jacob Levi of Tarascon.” It is well known that the author of the book, an ethical work written in Hebrew in the first half of the fourteenth century, was Jedaiah Ben Abraham Bedersi (c. 1270–1340). But it was Estellina who arranged for the printing and was actually involved in the process. She used the word “wrote” because there was as yet no term in Hebrew for “printing.” According to her husband, who was the proprietor of the press, Estellina “wrote” the book “with many pens, without the aid of a miracle.” At least fifty-four other Jewish women printers whose names were on colophons or title-pages up to the 1920s and there have been many since.

As part of the ongoing Dr. Michael D. Paul Rare Books Initiative, the first in a series of themed Rare Books Workshop will feature some of the texts and the backstories you never knew about, implicating the integral role women played in the history of Jewish book culture.

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