From the first printing press in the Arab world

Menou, (Abdallah) Jacques-François de Boussay de. Ordre du jour, du 29 nivôse an 9.

Cairo, Imprimerie nationale, [19 January 1801 CE =] 29 nivôse an IX.

Small folio (215 x 308 mm). Broadsheet, 2 pp. Printed in French and Arabic in two columns.


A rare broadsheet from the first printing press in the Arab world, announcing the peace concluded between Napoleon and the rulers of Algiers and Tunis: "Je vous annonce qu'il nous est parvenu récemment des lettres de la part du Gouvernement de la République Française, et de son premier Consul, l'illustre guerrier Bonaparte. Elles nous donnent avis que la paix a été conclue définitivement entre la République Française et les royaumes d'Alger et de Tunis. Que Dieu en soit loué! [...] Habitans de l'Égypte! Dieu favorise toutes les entreprises des Français et du premier consul Bonaparte, qui ne veulent que justice: la tranquillité, la sécurité et le bonheur des peuples [...]". Napoleon's peace treaty was intended to send a strong signal to the Muslim world and pave the way for more ready acceptance of French power in Egypt.

"The expedition of Napoleon Bonaparte to Egypt from 1798 until 1801 was a prelude to modernity. It was to change permanently the traditional Arab world [...] The French brought Arabic typography to Egypt, where it was practised under the supervision [...] of Jean Joseph Marcel [...]. Only a few days after the French troops landed [...] they set up the Imprimerie Orientale et Française there. It was an extraordinarily important turning point. For, leaving aside the Hebrew printing presses in Egypt of the 16th to the 18th centuries, until this date announcements and news adressed to Arabs there, as well as in other parts of the Arab-Islamic world, had been spread only in hand-writing or orally, by criers, preachers or storytellers" (Glass/Roper).

The productions of the Imprimerie included rare scientific and practical brochures, periodicals, but above all broadsheets and notices in French, Arabic and Turkish, intended for authorities, soldiers and the literate general population. The Imprimerie employed more than 30 men, including several Egyptians hired and trained on the spot, among them Yousef Msabky, later head of the royal printing press in Egypt. For the printing of Arabic and Turkish texts the Imprimerie had extensive typographical material at its disposal, including the entire set of oriental types that Monge had seized in Rome from the Congregatio Fide press. Jean-Joseph Marcel, himself a very competent Arabist, enlisted the services of the Turkish interpreter Elia Fatalla and of two scholars from Acre, Yakoub and Mikhaïl, who had fled the persecutions of Jazzar Pasha.

Folded horizontally. Untrimmed an in excellent state of preservation.

Cf. D. Glass/G. Roper, The Printing of Arabic Books in the Arab World, in: Middle Eastern Languages and the Print Revolution (Gutenberg Museum Mainz 2002), p. 177-225, at 182.

Stock Code: BN#56542 Tags: , , , ,