19 November 2003
CARDOSO, Isaac Fernando (1604-1681). Las excelencias de los Hebreos. Amsterdam: David de Castro Tartas, 1679.
4° (218 x 167mm). Half-title inserted after title, woodcut devices on title and half-title. (Browned, some staining.) Contemporary goatskin, small stamp at corners (a little worn at spine and corners). Provenance: Aron, son of Abraham Haim Pegna (see below; 18th-century inscription in Italian) -- 19th-century inscriptions -- A.L. Shane (sale Christie's East, 24 June 1998, lot 131).
FIRST EDITION of an important work of Jewish apologetics. Written by the former converso, the physician Fernando Cardoso, the work describes ten virtues of the Jewish people and refutes ten common calumnies, or anti-Jewish stereotypic accusations. It contains information on the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisition and has been considered 'a masterpiece of Jewish anti-defamation, perhaps the most striking since Josephus's Contra Apionem' (cf. Enc. Judaica and Treasures of Jewish Booklore, Bib. Rosenthaliana, Amsterdam, 1995, p.21). The 18th-century owner may be the son of Abraham Haim Penha, one of the '30 Governors' of the Sephardi congregation of Livorno in 1693 (see R. Toaff, La nazione ebrea a Livorno e a Pisa, 1591-1700, Florence: 1990, p.175). Wolf I, 1265; Rib. Santos 313; Palau 44099; De Boer, Spanish and Portuguese Printing, 315.
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