Auction 92 Part 1 Rare and Important Items

Printed Aleph-Bet Chart – Venice, 18th Century – Only Known Copy

Opening: $2,000
Estimate: $6,000 - $8,000
Sold for: $6,250
Including buyer's premium

Printed Aleph-Bet chart, with an abridged Birkat HaMazon and other blessings, Shema and several other prayer texts. Venice, [ca. 18th century].
Folding chart for teaching reading, including various texts. The upper part of the leaf shows the letters of the Hebrew alphabet with various vowel points. The alphabet is flanked on the right by an abridged version of Birkat HaMazon and other blessings; and on the left by the first paragraph of Shema, kedushah and the morning blessings. The chart also features two Psalms and the bedtime service, with the Hashkivenu blessing printed in three different rites (Ashkenazi, Sephardi and Italian).
The center of the leaf is occupied by a fine illustration of a class of students. Several students are seen studying by a table, with a winged figure hovering over them and showering them with treats. Near them is a teacher brandishing a whip, ready to hit a disobedient student.

Approx. 47X35 cm. Good condition. Many stains. Folding marks. Part of illustration and letters slightly faded. Linen-backed (edged with green fabric). Placed in original card slipcase. Blemishes to slipcase.

Such charts were printed in Italy from the mid-17th century until the 19th century. Most of the charts were printed in a similar format, with the Aleph-Bet chart in the center and accompanying texts (with typographic variations). The illustration at the center of this leaf also appears in all other charts, with minor variations in details (in earlier charts the illustration is a woodcut, while in later ones it is engraved). The present chart is different from all other charts we have seen, and to the best of our knowledge it is the sole existing exemplar.
For details about other Aleph-Bet charts printed in Italy, and about the variations between the illustrations, see: Y. Yudlov, Italian Alphabet Charts, Kiryat Sefer, 62, 1988-1989, pp. 930-932.

Italian Jewry – Manuscripts and Printed Items