CONAT, ABRAHAM BEN SOLOMON:
Italian printer, Talmudist, and physician: flourished at Mantua in the second half of the fifteenth century. He obtained the title of "ḥaber" (associate of a rabbi) for his learning, but displayed it chiefly in the choice of works selected by him for printing, which art he and his wife Estellina expressly learned. He embarked upon the business of printing at Mantua in 1476, and became celebrated as one of the earliest printers of Hebrew books in Europe, producing the third to the tenth of Hebrew incunabula as recorded by De Rossi. In 1475 he established a printing-office at Mantua, from which he issued: "Ṭur Oraḥ Ḥayyim," by R. Jacob b. Asher (1476); "Ṭur Yoreh De'ah," by the same author, only one-third of which, however, was printed by him, the rest being executed at Ferrara; "Beḥinat Olam," by Jedaiah Bedersi, in which Conat was assisted by his wife Estellina and Jacob Levi of Tarascon; Levi b. Gershon's (Ralbag's) commentary on the Pentateuch; "Luḥot," astronomical tables giving the length of day at different times of the year, by Mordecai Finzi; "Yosippon," the pseudo-Josephus or Gorionides; "Eldad ha-Dani"; "Nofet Ẓufim," the rhetoric of Messer Leon (Judah).
All these books were printed between 1476 and 1480, when the business was suspended on account of the rivalry of Abraham ben Ḥayyim at Ferrara. Abraham Conat was proud of his work; he used to accompany his name in the colophons by the words "Who writes with many pens without the help of miracles, for the spread of the Torah in Israel." He was especially delighted that four pages could be printed at one time on a large sheet, and that he could produce two thousand pages every day. His type was of such a shape that his editions are often taken for manuscripts.
- De Rossi, Annals, pp. 8-11, 110-114, 177;
- Zunz, Z. G. pp. 249, 250;
- Steinschneider, Cat. Bodl. col. 2866, No. 7957;
- Steinschneider and Cassel, Jüdische Typographie, in Ersch and Gruber, Encyc. section ii., part 28, p. 34;
- Wolf,Bibl. Hebr. i. 67, No. 102;
- Fürst, Bibl. Jud. i. 185;
- D. Chwolson, in Sbornik, St. Petersburg, 1896, pp. 3, 6, 7;
- Chwolson Jubilee Volume, p. 68.