In 1473 the first two
Hebrew presses were established in Calabria and Pieva da Sacra, Italy.
Israel Nathan founded the Hebrew printing house of Soncino in Soncino,
Italy, a village in northern Italy from which the family took their
name. The Soncinos were from Speyr in Alsatia, and had come to Italy
to escape persecution. He was unable to stay in Soncino, and
established presses in Salonika in 1527 and in Istanbul in 1530.
The first complete Hebrew Bible, based on the Ben Asher text,
was published by Joshua Solomon ben Israel Soncino in folio at the Soncino
press in 1488. Between 200 and 300 copies were printed. Johannes
Reuchlin purachased a copy in Rome in 1492 for 6 gold coins, a
year's salary from a government clerk.
The stamp issued in 1988 commemorates the 5th centenary
of the printing of the Soncino Bible. The word in Hebrew characters on
the stamp is the first word in the Hebrew Bible, bereshith, "In the