The Soncino Bible ~ 1488-1494

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     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 beginning...."

SCN 1733

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