The seed that grew into Facsimile Editions was sown one Sunday afternoon in the late 1970's. Michael Falter, the third generation of a family that had worked in the printing industry since the late 1800's, was strolling in the King's Library in London. He thought how he would love to be able to reproduce one of the manuscript treasures on display so that he could study it in its entirety, and at his leisure, rather than just peruse the two open pages behind glass in the Museum’s showcase.
He made enquiries and was fortunate to receive help, guidance and inspiration from the late Professor David Patterson, President of the Oxford Centre for Postgraduate Hebrew Studies. A short while later he met Linda, and on their second date Michael and Linda went to Oxford to see Ron May, Assistant Curator of Hebrew manuscripts at the Bodleian Library.
There they were shown and overwhelmed by the famous Kennicott Bible. Shortly after, in 1980, they formed Facsimile Editions, to rescue from obscurity some of the world’s finest and most important illuminated manuscripts by reproducing them to a standard hitherto unseen in the history of publishing. They would strive to recreate not only the appearance but also the overall aura of the original manuscripts.
It took them more than five years to produce the Kennicott Bible, their first facsimile. On completion the Bodleian Library was moved to write: “We know of no way in which [Facsimile Editions] could have done more to seek out all that is finest in contemporary craftsmanship in order to reproduce as nearly exactly as possible the colours of the miniatures in the original manuscript and the quality and texture of all the materials used therein.” - view the full letter
The Librarian at Trinity College, Dublin on receipt of their copy of the Kennicott Bible facsimile commented, “I write to let you know how honoured we are to acquire such a magnificent work, which must indeed rank with the finest facsimiles in publishing history... It will form part of our permanent collection which is renowned throughout the world of scholarship.”
Since then Facsimile Editions has acted as consultants to the United States Library of Congress among others. In 1991 Facsimile Editions won the prestigious contract to produce a facsimile edition of the Alba Bible. On the 31st March 1992 Sr. Mauricio Hatchwell Toledano honoured Michael and Linda Falter by inviting them to the presentation of the facsimile of the Alba Bible to His Majesty King Juan Carlos I of Spain and President Chaim Herzog of Israel at a special ceremony at the Pardo Palace in Madrid.
Every original manuscript poses its own unique problems which are solved one by one in order to produce a faithful copy that never compromises the quality of the original in any way. The finest materials and craftsmen are sought and used for every copy of each limited edition. Paper is specially milled for each edition to replicate and capture the ‘feel’ of the original manuscript. For some editions real vellum is used which is still made today in the same way that it was made in the Middle Ages. Gold and silver metal leaf is applied by hand to raised and flat surfaces. Every detail of the original, no matter how small, is faithfully reproduced by craftsmen who are prepared to collaborate with the Falters in their quest for the highest quality.
Facsimile Editions set out to make reproductions that would be worthy of the original, exquisite, illuminated manuscripts and remain as true as ever to their guiding principles. Since the publication of our first facsimile, enthusiasm for our work from the world's leading collecting libraries and private collectors remains undiminished. Each new publication is awaited with anticipation and greeted with praise. We hope that our facsimiles will be used and enjoyed for many generations to come and help to preserve the rich cultural heritage of times gone by.
" ... our first duty is to save Hebrew literature. There are thousands of Hebrew manuscripts lying idle in various libraries ... many of them have vanished in the darkness of the past or have been destroyed by the wrath of oppressors ...
I do not think that it will be possible to acquire ... the original manuscripts, but their reproductions ... will have the same practical value as the manuscripts themselves ..."
David Ben Gurion
Prime Minister of Israel
5th March, 1950