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Illustrated catalogue and price list of publications of the American Mission Press, Beirut, Syria. Founded at Malta, 1822, and at Beirut, 1834.

950.00

 

A historically important catalogue of 721 books on science, religion and other subjects, published in English and Arabic languages by the American Mission Press in Beirut.

 

8°, 38 pp. in English, [3 pp.] blank, 51 pp. in Arabic, with illustrations in text, original wrappers with lettering (somehow brittle, with loss of paper in the corners, but without loss of text, renewed spine, otherwise in a good condition).

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Description

The American Mission Press moved from Malta (founded in 1822) in 1834 to Beirut, where the conditions were more favourable. At the time only four other mission presses existed for the Near East: the London Missionary Society and the Church Missionary Society, both on Malta, the American Episcopalians in Athens and the ABCFM in Smyrna.

The person in charge of the American Press was Eli Smith, who arrived to Malta in 1826. In the following years he explored large areas east of the Jordan for the purpose of the mission.

Eli Smith’s important contribution for the press was choosing the right type of the Arabic letters. In the first decade the American Press on Malta and later in Beirut was using types, imported from England, which were not suitable for the Arabic readers, by the time used of the Ottoman naskh style.

Based on his detailed researches of the fonts and possibilities and collecting books from various Ottoman and Middle Eastern presses Smith decided for an elegant, clear font with distinctive ligatures. The types were designed and punch-typed by Homan Hallock (1803-1894) in Istanbul and casted in Leipzig by the Tauschnitz foundry in 1841. The type soon became known as al-Amerikani type.

It appears, that only two institutions house this edition of the catalogue (Orient-Institut Beirut, Yale University Library), as sporadic other editions, all of which are rare, are held in various other Western libraries.

References: OCLC 54219734.

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