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Fez Lithographs Collection

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  • Title page detail from Abu Isa al-Tirmidhi, Kitab Shamail al-Mustafa (Fez, Morocco, 1865)
    Title page detail from Abu Isa al-Tirmidhi, Kitab Shamail al-Mustafa (Fez, Morocco, 1865)

This collection of over 170 titles documents the earliest printing in Morocco. The bulk of the collection dates from 1865 to 1936, covering most of the span of Moroccan lithographic printing from its beginning in the city of Fez to its end during the French Protectorate. The collection includes the first five books printed in Fez as well as dozens from the years following. Islamic law and mysticism are the most common subjects; other subjects include Islamic doctrine, religious life, philosophy, Arabic grammar and rhetoric.

The Fez Lithographs Collection includes works by over 101 scholars and editors whose work represents significant Muslim scholarship in North Africa during the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries.

Collection overview and information for researchers

Printed books in Morocco

In initiating their printing industry, the Moroccans chose the lithographic method over moveable type, because they felt it preserved a link to their country’s rich heritage of manuscript production. At first, the royal court was the driving force in the printing of the new lithographic books, but soon private firms appeared. The collection includes works made by all of the various printers in Fez. In addition, there are also a number of moveable type style books, printed in Morocco under the French Protectorate.

The collection was assembled by Dr. Fawzi Abdulrazak, the leading scholar of the history of printing in Morocco, and was acquired by the Penn Libraries in 2013.

All titles in the collection are described in the online catalog, Franklin, and may be consulted in the Kislak Center reading room.

Manuscript holdings

In addition to the lithographs, the collection includes a number of Arabic manuscripts from Morocco. There are 41 titles in 23 separate items on diverse subjects, ranging in date from the 17th century to the early 20th.

Digital facsimiles

Both the printed and manuscript portions of the Fez Lithographs Collection have been fully digitized and are available to researchers through several Penn Libraries digital platforms.

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