Zutot 2002 pp 164-169 | Cite as

A Hidden Treasure in the Athias Cabinet or Quid Novum in Armariolo Athii

  • Adri K. Offenberg
Part of the Zutot: Perspectives on Jewish Culture book series (ZUTO, volume 2)


On 26 March 2001, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Tetterode firm, the Amsterdam University Library received the Athias cabinet on permanent loan from this graphic company. The extensive Typographic Library of the firm found its way to the University already in 1971.1 During the summer of 2001 the jubilee of Tetterode was celebrated with an exhibition in the University Library; the cabinet and an additional selection of original Hebrew and Yiddish books and broadsheets were on show.2 It was decided to give the cabinet a place in the reading room of the Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana amidst the famous Rosenthaliana collection of Amsterdam Hebrew and Yiddish printing from the seventeenth century onwards.3 The material, secured in thirty-five drawers, comprises around 583 steel punches (fifteen series) and 3086 copper matrices (fifty series, representing perhaps thirty-five different types) for square (merubba) semi-cursive (rashi) Yiddish (waybertaytsh) and current Hebrew script, and further old lines of type. Some punches and matrices may date back to the seventeenth century.4


Copper Matrice Reading Room Printing Office Steel Punch Graphic Company 
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  1. 1.
    See Quaerendo. A Quarterly Journal from the Low Countries Devoted to Manuscripts and Printed Books 2 (1972) 79-80. On the cabinet: ‘This is a unique collection which may eventually find a new destination, if not in its city of origin then somewhere else. Its sale, if such an event should take place, will provide one of the few possible occasions on which sets of pre-nineteenth-century punches and matrices are likely to come onto the market.’Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    J.A. Lane, ‘Het Athiaskastje’, in Een punt voor typografie. De Typografiscbe Bihliotheek in de Universiteitsbibliotbeek Amsterdam (Amsterdam 2001) 20–21; compiled by the Department Early Printed Collections of the University Library.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    A.K. Offenberg, ‘The Athias cabinet’, Studia Rosenthaliana 35 (2001) 100–102.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    J.A. Lane, ‘The types of Nicolas Kis’, Journal of the Printing Historical Society 18 (1983/84) 61–65.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Little is known about Abraham Athias, but see I.H. van Eeghen, De Amsterdamse hoekhandel 1680-1725 vol. 4 (Amsterdam 1967) 108, 275; vol. 5 (1978) 341.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    On Joseph and Immanuel Athias see L. Fuks and R.G. Fuks-Mansfeld, Hebrew Typography in the Northern Netherlands 1585-1815 vol. 2 (Leiden 1987) 286–339.Google Scholar
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    J. Meijer, ‘Het joodse boek in vooroorlogs Mokum. Nalezing. Herinneringen met een bijsmaak’, in Uitgelezen boeken 8 (1999) 14–22.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    L. Levisson, ‘lets over een merkwaardige Hebreeuwse letter’, Maandblad voor de geschiedenis der joden in Nederland 1 (5708/1948) 109–114. Cf. the cover illustration of the first issue of volume 35 (2001) of Studia Rosenthaliana. Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    A. van der Heide, ‘An Ambitious Publication of the Quid Novum Press’, in Treasures of Jewish Booklore. Marking the 200th Anniversary of the Birth of Leeser Rosenthal. Edited by A.K. Offenberg, E.G.L. Schrijver and F.J. Hoogewoud, with the collaboration of L. Kruyer-Poesiat; colour photographs by I. Heystek (Amsterdam 1994,21996) 118–119, 129.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    F. Baudin, ‘Jacques-François Rosart. Graveur et fondeur typographique belge’, Cahiers bruxellois 2 (1957) 192–212.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    The type specimen of Jacques-François Rosart, Brussels 1768. A facsimile with an introduction and notes by F. Baudin and N. Hoeflake (Amsterdam etc. 1973) 19–25. Cf. also Ch. Enschedé, Typefoundries in the Netherlands from the Fifteenth to the Nineteenth Century. A History Based Mainly on Material in the Collection of Joh. Enschedé en Zonen at Haarlem. First published in French in 1908. An English translation with revisions and notes by H. Carter with the assistance of N. Hoeflake. Edited by L. Hellinga (Haarlem 1978) 245-280.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    The type specimen, 45, 49, 54 and leaf M3.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Ph. Gaskell, A New Introduction to Bibliography (Oxford 1972; and many reprints) 15.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    M. Steinschneider, Catalogus lihrorum hebraeorum in Bibliotheca Bodleiana, 2 vols, Berolini 1852–1860, (reprints: Berlin 1931; Hildesheim 1964; New York 1999), nr. 1416.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    M.J. Heller, Printing the Talmud. A History of the Individual Treatises Printed from 1700 to 1750 (Leiden etc. 1999) 282.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adri K. Offenberg
    • 1
  1. 1.Bibliotheca RosenthaltanaAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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