London, British Library, Add. Ms. 14761

Barcelona Haggadah Facsimile Edition

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The Barcelona Haggadah is justly considered one of the most significant illuminated Hebrew codices, housed in the manuscript collection of the British Library. Created around mid-14th century, it is named after the coat of arms it features, which echoes Barcelona’s one.

An Iconographic Apparatus Intended for Children

At the time Barcelona represented a thriving centre of manuscript illumination while being home to one of the largest Jewish communities in Europe. Although Jewish religion makes use of several types of prayer books, the Passover Haggadah seems to be the most ornamented and elaborated.

Interestingly, the fact that the story was intended to be narrated to children results in the use of a vivid iconographic apparatus. The illustrations, distributed throughout the codex, are part of a superbly decorated extensive cycle which exhibits exquisite insights into Jewish life of mid-14th century Spain. Furthermore, almost half of its leaves bear exquisite ornamental elements.

Key-role Played by Musical Instruments

Given its relatively imposing size, the manuscript was intended be used at the table in occasion of the family gathering known as the Seder.

It is worth noticing the significant role played by music both in the manuscript and in the community as it was used as means to draw closer Jews and Christians. The importance of and interest in music is reflected in the several illustrations depicting musical instruments throughout the manuscripts, in total 28.

The script used in the Barcelona Haggadah – written on 8 lines per page – is large and neat, possibly to make it more accessible to children.

The Barcelona Haggadah: a Long Life

The life of the manuscript was certainly long and interesting, for we know from some inscriptions lefts on its pages that it belonged to Shalom Latif of Jerusalem, who sold it to Rabbi Moses ben Abraham of Bologna in 1459 for 50 ducats.

The Barcelona Haggadah seems to have been owned by an ecclesiastical figure in 1599, it was in the possession of Jehiel Nahman Foà in the 17th century and it was passed on to Mordecai and Raphael Hayyim, two members of the Ottolenghi family. Finally, British Museum bought it in 1844.

We have 1 facsimile edition of the manuscript "Barcelona Haggadah": The Barcelona Haggadah facsimile edition, published by Facsimile Editions Ltd., 1992

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Manuscript book description compiled by Facsimile Finder Staff.
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The Barcelona Haggadah

London: Facsimile Editions Ltd., 1992

  • Commentary (English) by Schonfield, Jeremy; Beit-Arié, Malachi; Avrin, Leila; Roland Smith, Diana; Schmelzer, Menachem; Loewe, Raphael; Snir, Jaakov; Cohen, Evelyn M.
  • Limited Edition: 550 copies
  • Full-size color reproduction of the entire original document, Barcelona Haggadah: the facsimile attempts to replicate the look-and-feel and physical features of the original document; pages are trimmed according to the original format; the binding might not be consistent with the current document binding.

The paper used in this facsimile edition, made by a small Alpine paper mill, has been widely recognised as the closest likeness to vellum ever achieved, since it exactly reproduces the opacity, texture and thickness of the vellum on which the manuscript was written. The facsimile is printed by offset lithography in up to twelve inks. Facsimile and commentary are presented in an elegant hand-marbled slipcase.


The blind-tooled binding is in fine brown calfskin over boards with rounded corners. The book block is sewn by Italian craftsmen over handmade head and tail bands. Commentary volume bound in a full calfskin binding.

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