Moritz Spitzer


Jewish. Born 8 July 1900 in Boskowitz, Moravia. Studied Humanities at universities of Vienna and Kiel, specializing in old Indian languages. From 1932: Martin Buber’s assistant in translating the Hebrew Bible into German, and in Buber’s public and scientific work. Later, reader, editor and manager at the Berlin publisher Schocken where he learned high standards of composition and production. Early 1939: emigrated to Palestine; founder of Tarshish Press in Jerusalem, 1939, where from 1940-65 he designed and published books. His productions, notably a collection of mediaeval Hebrew love poetry, brought him to the attention of Oliver Simon of the Curwen Press, London, via the interest of Harry Carter, of the Oxford University Press, then stationed in Jerusalem. 1945-6: in charge of the publications department of the Jewish Agency. Founded the Hadassah printing school and was later instrumental in bringing Henri Friedlaender from Holland to head the school. Established a short-lived foundry for Hebrew type, where he designed the typeface Hatzevi, and was founder of Tarshish Books, and publisher for the Bialik Institute. Designed and supervised the production of the first publications about the Dead Sea Scrolls. 1969: served on the international jury at the Sao Paulo Biennale; consultant to government agencies. Translated Beatrice Warde’s The Crystal Goblet into Hebrew. 1972: awarded the Freedom of Jerusalem. Died 16 November 1982.

Writings by

  • The Bird’s Head Haggada of the Bezalel National Art Museum in Jerusalem (ed.), Jerusalem: Tarshish, 1967
  • The Development of Hebrew Lettering (tr. S. Shpira), Ariel 37, Jerusalem, 1974, pp. 4-28
  • ‘Das Werden der hebräischen Schrift im Überblick’, Philobiblon, June 1977, pp. 94-120
  • contribution in G. Silberberg, Principles of Printing, Tel Aviv, 1968
  • ( editor ) A Letter is Forever: A Collection of Papers on the Design of the Hebrew Letter, Jerusalem: Israel Ministry of Education and Culture, c. 1989
  • ‘Die Entwicklung der hebräischen Schrift’, Typographische (or Typografische) Monatsblätter (journal), St Gallen: 1952-93, Zurich: 1994-present., Nov. 1977, pp. 622-39. Rechenschaft über vierzig Jahre Verlagsarbeit, 1925-65, Heidelberg, 1965

Writings about

  • Lambert Schneider, Rechenschaft über vierzig Jahre Verlagsarbeit, 1925-65, Heidelberg, 1965, pp. 39-40
  • L. Schneider, ‘Salman Schocken’, Imprimatur, Band VI, 1969, pp. 192-202 plus 2-page inset
  • Israel Soifer, ‘The pioneer work of Maurice Spitzer’, Penrose Annual, 1970, pp. 126-42
  • Israel Soifer, ‘Moritz Spitzer, ein Pionier hebräischer Schrift- und Buchgestaltung’, Imprimatur, Band VII, 1972, pp. 215-22 (translation of Penrose Annual article, 1970)
  • Y. Yudlov (editor), An Exhibition of Hebrew Bibliophilic Books (exh. cat.), Jerusalem: Jewish National and University Library, 1972
  • H.J. Katzentein (editor), Dr Moshe Spitzer. Books, Typography, Design (exh. cat.), Jerusalem: Israel Bibliophiles, 1981
  • Printing World, 1 Dec. 1982, p. 25 (obituary)
  • W.C. Fontaine, ‘The Hadassah type at Dartmouth’s Graphic Arts Workshop in Baker Library’, Dartmouth College Library Bulletin, 32(1), 1991
  • Ronny Reich and Ayala Sussman, ‘The Hebrew Episode in the Typography of Eric Gill’, Gutenberg Jahrbuch, 1992, pp. 305-8
  • Ernst Fischer and others, Buchgestaltung im Exil 1933-1950. Eine Ausstellung des Deutschen Exilarchivs 1933-1945 Der Deutschen Bibliothek. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2003. Very comprehensive. , 2003, p. 97, and biog. pp. 199-200.