As we have mentioned time and again in the last seven months, we have been working hard in 2018 to gather data on the movements of Hebrew incunabula (that is, books produced from the invention of moveable type until the year 1501). As of today, we have 1226 records for books from this era, and the data continues to grow. We have already ingested data from the Jewish Theological Seminary’s extensive collection, the collection at Yeshiva University, the University of Pennsylvania, and many others. Still more are in process, and will be added soon to our corpus.
One of our in-process batches is based on Dr. Adri K. Offenberg’s list of Hebrew incunabula missing after World War II. Dr. Offenberg painstakingly scoured lists of pre-WWII European collections to find incunabula, and followed up with those that remained extant to find what was lost. Unfortunately, many libraries (and their caretakers) had been destroyed, and their collections scattered to the four winds. One of these collections was the library of Jewish Theological Seminary in Breslau (modern-day Wrocław, in Poland), and some of its items have been appearing in Footprints search results.
To my delight, one of these was an incunable, the commentary of Abraham ibn Ezra on the Bible (Naples, 1488), and one of the books listed as missing in Dr. Offenberg’s list! The book can be found today at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, and its Breslau provenance is duly cited in Iakerson’s catalog of incunabula at JTS, number 47a. Slowly but surely, our work on Footprints is (virtually) reuniting collections long thought lost to the world.
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