This text was prepared by William Gross:
Part of the extensive series of tractates for the Babylonian Talmud printed in Amsterdam in the first years of printing activity for that city in the decade of the 1640's. Title “Masechet Chagigah” in decorative, individually-framed, letters. Benveniste printer's emblem at bottom.
Immanuel Benveniste (also known as Manuel Benveniste) (Venice 1608 - Amsterdam c.1660) was one of a number of notable Portuguese Jewish printers at Amsterdam in the seventeenth century (the others being Manasseh ben Israel, David de Castro Tartas, and Joseph and Immanuel Athias). Little is known of his antecedents, although the Benviniste family is believed to have been among the Jewish refugees from Spain or Portugal. He came to Amsterdam via Venice (which explains why he signed his name in the Italian form), apparently already an accomplished printer. Benveniste printed many Hebrew works, including this edition of the Talmud from 1644-48.
Benveniste’s printer’s device (which may have been the family escutcheon), seen at the bottom of this book's title page, shows an upright lion facing a tower with a star above. Apparently, later printers often “borrowed” this mark for various reasons. The first to do so were Ben Judah ben Mordecai of Posen and Samuel ben Moses ha-Levi, Ashkenazic printers who had previously worked for Benveniste. In their case, Benveniste presumably allowed them to use the mark, perhaps as a show of support for his former employees.