A Near-Complete run of The Oxford Jewish Kalendar in an Unusual Contemporary Binding

ALMANACS. Abendana, Isaac (c. 1640-1699)

An Almanack for the Year of Christ, 1693[-1699] [and] The Jewish Kalendar.. in the year 5453 [-5460] of The Creation…

Oxford: Printed at the Theater, 1693, 1694, 1695, 1696, 1696 (for 1697), 1698, 1699

$26,000.00

Duodecimo: 7 volumes bound as one. 13 x 8.2 cm.

FIRST EDITIONS OF ALL 7 BOOKS.

An exceptional volume comprising seven editions, for the years 1693 to 1699, of Isaac Abendana's "Almanack"/ "The Jewish Kalendar", printed at Oxford. Only the edition of 1692 is absent.

Bound in an unusual contemporary vellum and marbled paper over boards, worn, with much of the marbled paper of the upper board perished, vellum missing from top compartment of the spine. (For a discussion of this binding, see the foot of this description.) With the exception of one edition (1694) that is browned, the contents are in excellent, bright condition, many of the leaves with more than one edge untrimmed. The 1693 edition is shorter than the others and is bound first. Early annotations to the blank rectos of the titles of the 1693 and 1699 editions. One edition interleaved with blanks.

Abendana (c. 1640-1699), Hebraist and bookseller, "had a virtual monopoly on Hebrew studies at the two universities' over a forty-year academic career" (ODNB). His almanacs, which were published from 1692 to 1699, innovatively included the dates of the Jewish festivals alongside those of the university terms. Each edition also contained a different essay on Jewish culture. All editions are rare. (See individual entries below for North American holdings.)

The brothers Isaac (d. 1699) and Jacob (c.1630-85) Abendana were born in Spain, taken while young to Hamburg and educated at Leiden. Both came to England in the early 1660s, where Jacob became leader of the Sephardic community in London. From 1663 to 1679 Isaac was in Cambridge, first at Trinity College, then as an employee of the University, and from 1681 he was at Oxford. “From 1689 Isaac served as lecturer in Hebrew at Magdalen College, Oxford, a position he held until his death ten years later. During his Oxford years [he] became known as a resident authority on all matters Jewish and as the chief purveyor of Hebrew books, a situation he consolidated by inventing the Oxford diary, which in his original form included not only information relevant to university men but also a yearly essay on some aspect of Jewish religion and culture. These essays made the almanacs widely sought after even when their immediate practical use had passed.” (ODNB)

Abendana’s "Oxford Almanack", usually known by its secondary title "The Jewish Kalendar", was published annually between 1692 and his death in 1699. It was, as his prefatory address “To the Two Most Famous and Celebrated Universities of England” shows, intended primarily for an academic Christian audience - as confirmed by the annotations of an Oxford student in this copy. It probably also circulated amongst the Sephardic community in London (of which his brother Jacob had been leader) and where the calendar would have been of practical use, but those copies have not survived. 

The contents of "The Jewish Kalendar" evolved over its eight- year existence, but each year contained the standard English and Hebrew calendars (and the Ancient Roman) and each year a new section was added explaining some element of Jewish religion, history, faith, or culture, as follows: an explanation of the Jewish calendar (1692), schools and universities (1693), feasts and fasts (1694), public liturgy (1695), laws concerning tithes (1696),the institution of the priesthood (1697), the judiciary system (1698), and fasts again (1699). Most editions also included a "Chronological Summary of several remarkable things relating to the People of the Jews."

 

1. [1693] An almanack for the year of Christ, 1693. Being the first after bissextile or leap-year. To which is added the ancient Roman Kalendar. [2ndtitle page:] The Jewish Kalendar: Containing An Account of their Fasts and Festivals, whether observ'd at present, or out of use; with their Sabbaths and Proper Lessons: Beginning at the 4thof the Moon Sebat, in the Year 5453 of the Creation and continuing to the 13thof Tebet 5454 inclusive. To which are Added a Brief equation of the Jewish Coins, Weights, and Measures. As also, an Account of the Schools, among the Hebrews, from their Original, to this present time. With a Chronological Summary of several remarkable things relating to the People of the Jews.

Oxford, printed at the Theater, [1693]

12mo: [48],36 p. Collation: A8, B-G6 (A1-2 blank, lacking). One sig. interleaved with blanks. (ESTC erroneously gives [86] for 48. Our copy agrees with the Yale copies)

ESTC R15268. 3 North American copies: Hebrew Union, Yale (2)

 

2. [1694] An almanack for the year of Christ, 1694. Being the second after bissextile or leap-year. [2ndtitle page:] The Jewish Kalendar: Containing An Account of their Fasts and Festivals, whether observ'd at present, or out of use; with their Sabbaths and Proper Lessons: Beginning at the 14.of the Moon Tebeth, in the Year 5454 of the Creation and continuing to the 23.of Tebeth 5455 inclusive. To which is Added a larger Account of our Feasts and Fasts; as also of the Talmud, and the Teachers of It in their respective Ages. With a Chronological Summary of several remarkable things relating to the People of the Jews.

Oxford: printed at the Theater, in the year 1694

12mo: [36], 60 p. Collation: A-H6. Browned. Most leaves untrimmed at lower margin.

ESTC R200784. Folger only in North America

 

3. [1695] An almanack for the year of Christ, 1695. Being the third after bissextile or leap-year. [2ndtitle page:] The Jewish Kalendar: Containing An Account of their Feasts and Fasts, whether observ'd at present, or out of use; with their Sabbaths and Proper Lessons: Beginning at the 14..of the Moon Tebeth, in the Year 5455 of the Creation and continuing to the 23..of Tebeth 5456. inclusively. To which is Added an Account of our Publick Liturgy as at this day established amongst us. With a Chronological Summary of several remarkable things relating to the People of the Jews.

Oxford: printed at the Theater, in the year 1695

12mo:  [36], 44, [4] p.Collation: A-G6

ESTC R23827. 3 North American copies:Folger, Hebrew Union, Yale

 

4. [1696] An almanack for the year of Christ, 1696. Being bissextile, or leap-year. [2ndtitle page:] The Jewish Kalendar: Containing An Account of their Feasts and Fasts, whether observ'd at present, or out of use; with their Sabbaths and Proper Lessons: Beginning at the 7thof the Moon Sebat, in the Year of the Creation 5456 and continuing to the 27. of Tabeth 5457 inclusively. To which is added an Account of the Antiquity, Nature, and design of Tithes, particularly as established by the Law of Moses; as also of the other allowances made for the maintenance of the Priests by virtue of the said Law.

Oxford: printed at the Theater, in the year 1696

12mo:  [36], 44, [4] p.Collation: A-G6 (ESTC erroneously gives A-G12)

ESTC R23827. Only Hebrew Union in North America

 

5. [1697] An almanack for the year of Christ, 1697. Being the first after bissextile, or leap-year. To which is added the ancient Roman Kalendar. [2ndtitle page:] The Jewish Kalendar: Containing An Account of their Feasts and Fasts, whether observ'd at present, or out of use; with their Sabbaths and Proper Lessons: Beginning at the 18th.of the Moon Tebeth, in the Year of the Creation 5457 and continuing to the 27..of Tebeth 5458. inclusively. To which is Added an Account of the Institution of the Priest-hood, and the Exercise of the same among the Jewish People. With a Chronological Summary of several remarkable things relating to the People of the Jews.

Oxford: printed at the Theater, [1696]

12mo:  [48],36 p. Collation: A-G6 (ESTC erroneously gives [50] for [48])

ESTC R200789. Yale only in North America

 

6. [1698] An almanack for the year of Christ, 1698. Being the second after bissextile or leap-year. [2ndtitle page:] The Jewish Kalendar: Containing An Account of their Feasts and Fasts, whether observ'd at present, or out of use; with their Sabbaths and Proper Lessons: Beginning at the 28th.of the Moon Tebeth, in the Year of the Creation, 5458 and continuing to the 10..of Sebbat 5459. inclusively. To which is Added a Short Account of the Courts of Judicature among the Jews. With a Chronological Summary of several remarkable things relating to the People of the Jews.

Oxford: printed at the Theater, [1698]

12mo:  [36], 48 p. Collation: A-G6 

ESTC R9284. 3 North American copies:Folger, Harvard, Hebrew Union

 

7. [1699] An almanack for the year of Christ, 1699. Being the third after bissextile or leap-year. [2ndtitle page:] The Jewish Kalendar: Containing An Account of their Feasts and Fasts, whether observ'd at present, or out of use; with their Sabbaths and Proper Lessons: Beginning at the 11th.of the Moon Sebatt, in the Year of the Creation, 5459 and continuing to the 19..of Tebeth 5460. inclusively. To which is Added a Discourse concerning the Jewish Fasts, wherein is a brief account of the great day of Expiation. With a Chronological Summary of several remarkable things relating to the People of the Jews.

Oxford: printed at the Theater, [1699]

12mo: [36], 52 p. Collation: A-G6, H2

ESTC R36724. 4 North American copies: Hebrew Union, Huntington, UCLA, Yale

"One of the most striking features of the first decades of open Jewish resettlement in England is the speed with which Jews managed to integrate themselves into so many different spheres of English life. From the first appointment of a Jew as a broker on the Exchange in 1657 to the first Jewish knighthood in 1700, the story is one of a dramatic rise in the acquisition of rights, privileges and special consideration. So, too, had Jews long been a part of English intellectual and academic life, but before Cromwell's tacit permission of Jewish residence in 1656 only Jewish converts to Christianity dared to make their appearance at English universities. This pattern was broken with the Abendana brothers, Jacob (d. 1685) and Isaac (d. 1699), Hebrew scholars and bibliophiles who came to London from Holland after the Restoration. Jacob Abendana, in the last four years of his life, was rabbi of the Sephardic community in London; Isaac, from at least 1663, taught Hebrew at Oxford and Cambridge. Both men were very much in demand by English scholars, who turned to them to solve Hebraic problems of various kinds and to procure Hebrew books for themselves and for university libraries. Both brothers worked on the first translations of the Mishnah into European languages and thus helped make available to Christian scholars this central core of the Talmud, the Jewish ‘oral’ law. Finally, it was Isaac Abendana who invented the Oxford diary and thereby made a permanent mark on the social habits of the university in which he laboured."(Katz, The Abendana Brothers and the Christian Hebraists of Seventeenth-Century England, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Vol. 40, Issue 1 (1989), p. 28-52)

 

About the binding:

The binding is not exemplary of any known traditional style or design. It is an example of an early “amateur” binding, which was probably made by the person who assembled the sammelband. That person may have had knowledge of bookbinding procedures and techniques (perhaps from working in a bindery or as an apprentice) but was forced to use scrap material to bind this volume- probably for himself.  Vellum being an extremely durable material, it was also an expensive commodity. So these scrap strips were salvaged and used. The paper simply covered the open portion left in the boards.  As for a date - based on the marble pattern it is probably no later than 1720. –Sean Richards, Byzantium Studios.