No. 26 (2023): Cromohs
The Destruction and Preservation of Hebrew Books

Surviving Hebrew Accounts From the European Genizah. The Earliest Ledger of a Jewish Pawnshop in Italy

Published 2023-12-20


  • Hebrew Manuscripts,
  • The Italian Genizah Project,
  • Hebrew Binding Fragments,
  • Hebrew Ledger,
  • European Genizah


This study presents an original manuscript of the European Genizah containing the earliest account book of a Jewish moneylender in Italy. This document, which dates back to the early fifteenth century, sheds new light on the economic history of the Jews, credit issues in north Italy, Jewish–Christian economic relations and material culture through references to pawned objects, as well as the history of accounting practices. Its paper leaves were dismembered and reused to bind a different book of Italian origin. As with thousands of other fragments found in bindings across Europe, the recycling of codices paradoxically assured their survival. The sheets of the ledger were discovered, detached and conserved when the manuscript was restored at the end of the nineteenth century.