Vinegia [Venice], 'Stampata ... per Nicolo d'Aristotile detto Zoppino', 1535.
Small octavo (approximately 145 x 90 mm),  pages, with an elaborate woodcut border to the title page.
Later (but not modern) vellum decorated in gilt on the spine, with a gilt-bordered leather title-label on the front cover; vellum a little marked and discoloured; title leaf lightly chipped and marked, with two tiny holes, and with an old paper repair to the hinge on the blank verso; some unobtrusive light tidemarks; trifling signs of use and age; overall, a very good copy.
First introduced to Europe in the fourteenth century by the Dominican friar and missionary Alfonso Buenhombre, who claimed to have translated it from an earlier Arabic original, this short treatise is now widely accepted to be his work. Part polemic, part apologetics, Rabbi Samuel's epistle expounds the sins of the Jewish race and argues the truth of the Christian religion, taking its sources chiefly from the Old Testament. Its survival in over three hundred manuscripts and at least thirteen incunable editions, in Latin and various vernaculars, attests to its popularity (Ora Limor: 'The Epistle of Rabbi Samuel of Morocco: A Best-Seller in the World of Polemics', in 'Contra Iudaeos: Ancient and Medieval Polemics between Christians and Jews', Limor and Stroumsa, editors, 1996). Nevertheless, this Italian edition, printed in italic type, appears to be quite scarce. The front flyleaf carries the ownership signature 'Nahum Barnet, Melbourne 1891'. Nahum Barnet (1855-1931), architect and journalist, was an active member of Melbourne's Jewish community; not least, he designed the extant Synagogue in Toorak Road, South Yarra (1928-30, 'his last major work'). Isaac Selby later claimed that Barnet 'had designed a building in every street in Melbourne proper' (Australian Dictionary of Biography. While you're at it, read the entry on Selby too!).