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SCHMID, ANTON VON:

Christian publisher of Hebrew books; born at Zwettl, Lower Austria, Jan. 23, 1765; died at Vienna June 27, 1855. His father, an employee of the convent, destined him for the clerical career, and with this view Anton received a collegiate education at the convent. He continued his studies at the Zwettl seminary in Vienna to prepare himself for the university, but, declining to become a clergyman, he had to leave the institution. In 1785 he entered as an apprentice the establishment of the court printer Kurzbeck. Schmid attended the Oriental academy, and in consequence was assigned to Hebrew typesetting, for which he had a great predilection. Having become acquainted with Jewish scholars and booksellers and with the wants of the Hebrew reading public, he bought from Kurzbeck his Hebrew types in order to establish himself as a printer and publisher; but through the intrigues of the Vienna printers he was unable to obtain from the government the requisite permission to pursue that calling. Thereupon he presented a petition to Emperor Francis II., who granted him the privilege on the condition that he would present a copy of each book printed by him to the imperial library.

Schmid's great success soon enabled him to buy Kurzbeck's entire printing establishment. In 1800 the government prohibited the import of Hebrew books, to the great advantage of Schmid, who without hindrance reprinted the works issued by Wolf Heidenheim in Rödelheim. The printing was under the supervision of Joseph della Torre and afterward of his son Adalbert, and Schmid became more and more prosperous. By the year 1816 he had presented to the imperial library eighty-six works comprising 200 volumes; and his great merit was acknowledged by a gold medal from the emperor. He then enlarged his establishment, printing Arabic, Persian, and Syriac books also, and upon the donation of 17 new Oriental works in 44 volumes to the court library he received a title of nobility. A few years later he made a third donation of 148 works in 347 volumes, presenting a similar gift to the Jewish religious school of Vienna. His son Franz Schmid took charge of the establishment in 1839, and sold it to Adalbert della Torre in 1849. Among the principal works published by Schmid were the Hebrew Bible with German translation and the commentary of the Biurists, the Talmud, the Hebrew periodical "Bikkure ha-'Ittim," the works of Maimonides and of Judah Löb Ben-Zeeb, and Jewish prayer-books and catechisms.

Bibliography:
  • Wurzbach, Biographisches Lexikon. xxx. 209-212;
  • Letteris, Wiener Mittheilungen, 1855, Nos. 28-31.
J. S. Man.
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